Marigolds are easy to grow, and this year we are enjoying them in the planter boxes on our back deck. An added bonus is that they attract bees and repel mosquitoes.
We usually plant purslane in the boxes. (Yes, I know that purslane is an invasive plant in many places, but here in the South we deliberately purchase it in the spring.) However, purslane was impossible to find this spring, and I think I like the marigolds even better.
For centuries marigold has been grown in kitchen gardens for its herbal properties. “Herb of the sun” is how it was described by Nicholas Culpeper, English botanist and herbalist who published his Complete Herbal in 1653. The leaves apparently can be eaten as a salad. The flowers have been used to cure fevers and the pain and swelling from bee stings, to heal warts, to cure smallpox and measles in times past, and when snuffed up the nose to expel mucus. In addition, the flowers are a source of yellow dye.
The repelling of mosquitoes is what I like best about marigolds. I had been skeptical of this, but we have had no mosquitoes on our deck this summer. With the Zika-virus-carrying mosquitoes now in every corner of our state, it’s nice to know we can sit outside in the evenings and not have to be concerned about being bitten.