Get to know: Marigold
The birth month flower for October is the Marigold. Known for its cheery yellow gold color, it symbolizes winning grace, protection, comfort and healing. Rich in symbolism, it’s also associated with the sun – resplendent yellow and head-turning gold in color, it grabs your attention. Thus, it is also called the ‘herb of the sun’, and stands for passion and creativity.
The Marigold in History
The flower was first discovered by the Portuguese in the 1600s in Central America. They were then introduced to India and Europe. In Aztec culture, the marigold was prized for its mystical and medicinal properties, dating back to 1552 with herbal records that show they were used to cure hiccups – and those who were struck by lightning! Spanish explorers took the seeds of the flowers back to Spain, growing them in monastery gardens.
Photo by Angela Altomare
Marigold around the world
It was also used as a protective talisman for sailors who traveled over large bodies of water. In ancient South Asia, they were also prized for its golden hue, and were used as decoration in ceremonial rooms and pavilions. They are also used as decoration in present day Mexico, especially during All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day.
Today in India, the marigold is a common sight and is often seen as a decorative plant. They also play a role in Hindu religious ceremonies, as well as other ceremonies ranging from weddings to funerals. They are also offered to the gods, and when dried and ground into a powder, are rubbed onto the exterior of village homes.
Caring for the Marigold
Marigold is a hardy flower and is a common sight in many American gardens. Belonging to the calendula family, it is happy during the fall and can also make it through dry weather with no problems.
Care info from the Farmer’s Almanac:
- Germination from large, easily handled seeds is rapid, and blooms should appear within a few weeks of sowing.
- If the spent blossoms are deadheaded, the plants will continue to bloom profusely.
- When you water marigolds, allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering, then water well, then repeat the process.
- Do not water marigolds from overhead. Water at the base of the plant.
- Do not fertilize marigolds. Too rich a diet stimulates lush foliage at the expense of flowers. Marigolds bloom better and more profusely in poor soil.
- The densely double flowerheads of the African marigolds tend to rot in wet weather.