Mites, aphids and slugs can occasionally be a problem, but the
vigorous growth of marigolds typically overcomes insect
problems. Keep the soil around them free of debris and clip off
affected leaves at the first sign of damage. More severe
infestations can be controlled with a spray of water or
Marigolds come in four major categories:
- Tall, up to 3 feet and may require staking. They produce large
orange and yellow flowers.
- Range from 5 to 18 inches tall. Topped with 2-inch flowers
with copper, orange and yellow flowers.
- Feature lacy foliage and small, edible red, orange and yellow
Triploid or mule
- Sterile hybrids of African and French marigolds.
Hybridizers have also bred "white" marigolds, closer to a cream
or pale yellow. They fit well into planting schemes that feature
a cool color palette.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
are another old-fashioned charmer. They are easy to sow and grow
and are relatively pest- and disease-free. Nasturtium flowers
and leaves are edible and are the perfect plant to introduce
into an edible landscape. The Latin translation of nasturtium is
"nose twist," referencing its pungent smell and taste.
Nasturtium is grown as an annual, although a few seeds always
escape the fall harvest. They poke their tender green shoots up
every spring in places of their own choosing. Nasturtium's
growing habit is to scamper along the ground or flow down a
planter in cascades of vermillion, peach, tangerine, mahogany,
rose, butter or cherry. Their leaves look like tiny water lily
pads, typically a rich shade of deep green or blue-green. Newer
variegated and speckled leaf varieties add panache to this plant
that is already full of charm.
They come in trailing and compact varieties. Trailing
nasturtiums add a beautiful touch to window boxes and hanging
baskets. They are prolific, and respond well to cutting if they
begin to encroach upon neighboring plants. Compact varieties are
suited for creating drifts of color along the front of the
Growing the best Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums grow best sown directly into the soil. Space them
10-12 inches apart, in full sun, after the threat of a frost has
passed. If planted in very rich soil, they may produce foliage
at the expense of flowers, so amend the soil lightly.
One sure fire way to impress your summer garden guests is to add
peppery-flavored nasturtium blossoms and leaves to a salad. The
flowers make beautiful garnishes on cakes or soups. The leaves
can be chopped and added to dips. The flavor of both flowers and
leaves become spicier as summer's heat intensifies.
Nasturtiums hail from sunny South America. Native people used
the leaves medicinally as teas for several ailments, including
as an antiseptic. Nutritionally, they are high in Vitamins A, D