December 5, 2019

The French-Mexican Companion

Tagetes patula 'Safari' - French marigold

Janine Pineo Photo | Tagetes patula ‘Safari’ – French marigold

You’ve got to wonder sometimes how a plant gets its name. Tagetes patula is one of those. Oh, not the botanical taxonomy; that’s usually a maze. This is the French marigold, which just happens to be a native of Mexico. Whatever its murky moniker, this particular marigold is called ‘Safari,’ a mix of warm colors in red, orange and yellow. It will reach about a foot in height, and if you keep it deadheaded, the flowers should keep producing all season long. Interestingly, the florets of T. patula are a source of color. They are added to poultry feed to give the yolks are deeper yellow hue and they also are used to color human food. And that pungent smell you get from a marigold? Turns out that the essential oil in T. patula are used in perfumery, in this case, mixed with sandalwood oil to produce ‘attar genda.’ Or you can just plant them near your tomatoes to ward off bad bugs. That’s why it’s the French-Mexican companion.