Are Marigolds Edible? How To Grow Edible Marigold Flowers

Bright, perky marigolds are, indeed, edible. The flowers of the marigold plant are among the most popular edible flowers.

Hailing from Mexico, it has been cultivated and included in the human diet for its delightful flavor and striking health benefits for more than 2000 years.

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In this article, we discuss the use of edible marigolds and provide information on how to grow them. Read on to learn more. 

How To Grow Edible Marigold Flowers?

It is extremely easy to grow marigolds for any purpose. They need full sun, consistently warm temperatures, and fertile, well-draining soil. 

In hot areas that have a long growing season, you can simply do the following:

  • Sow the seed directly on the ground.
  • Keep it watered and watch it grow.
  • To ensure a good spacing and provide the seed with a bit of cover, mix it in with some potting soil before you sprinkle it on the surface of the soil. 

In cooler settings, do the following:

  • Plant your marigold seed in small pots or a tray indoors 6 or 8 weeks before the predicted date of the last frost of the winter.
  • Place the pots or tray in an area that stays consistently warm and receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. 
  • Keep the soil slightly moist indoors or landscape until your seedlings are well established.

Once established, marigolds like soak and dry watering. Water deeply and then allow the soil to become nearly dry before watering again. 

Once your seedlings have emerged and grown a couple of true leaves, you can move them into an area that receives some direct sunlight.

If you have planted in a tray rather than individually, you may wish to thin your seedlings or transplant them into individual pots at this time. 

Once planted in the landscape, you should allow space between seedlings that equals the expected height of the mature plant. 

If you live in an area that does not receive hard freezes, your marigolds will reseed themselves and return year after year with little or no help from you.

Regular harvesting will keep your plants producing fresh flowers all season.

If you do not harvest the flowers for use regularly, you should deadhead faded blooms promptly. 

What Kinds Of Marigolds Are Edible? 

Many different types of marigolds can be grown for use in the kitchen.

These are Tagetes hybrids or members of the Calendula family (Pot Marigold). 

Calendula officinalis are not actually marigolds but are close enough in appearance and used to be included in this discussion.

When planning your edible marigold garden, look for: 

  • Tangerine Gem makes a beautiful, bright orange, citrus-flavored edible garnish. The plant produces multiple small, single-layer blooms that are attractive to pollinators in the garden and diners at the table. 
  • Flagstaff is also called Aztec or African Marigold. These exceptionally tall plants (3′) produce large numbers of enormous (6″ inches) blooms in shades of yellow and orange throughout the summer. 
  • Bonanza Mix is a small Tagetes variety that grows about 10″ inches high with double-crested blooms in striking mixed shades of burgundy, gold, red, orange, and yellow. 
  • Spanish Tarragon is a towering variety that reaches a height of 3 feet tall. It is mainly used for the leaves, which are a good substitute for tarragon. 
  • Inca II is a foot-high hybrid that produces huge, showy, double blooms in shades of yellow, orange, gold, primrose, and mixed colors.
  • Zenith grows about 2′ feet high and produces 2″ inches blooms in shades of yellow, gold, orange, and deep red.
  • Lemon Gem grows to about 8″ inches and produces clouds of tiny, bright yellow blooms. 
  • Vanilla Improved is a hybrid that produces exceptionally large (3′ feet) creamy white flowers. 
  • Red Gem is similar to Tangerine Gem, but the flowers are deep red or red/orange. 

These are just a few of the many different types of marigolds that can be eaten.

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) is a similar edible plant that blooms very early in the season.

It makes a nice addition to an herb garden and can be used in recipes in many of the same ways as true marigolds.

Look for:

  • Flashback Mix produces large (2″ to 3″ inches) semi-double, tangy-tasting blooms in shades of cream, yellow, and gold with burgundy-colored undersides. 
  • Bon Bon has flowers similar to those of Flashback but in bright, straightforward shades of yellow and orange.

How Do You Use Marigolds In the Kitchen?

Marigold petals are a colorful, tasty addition to stir fry, salads, deviled eggs, and soup.

The leaves and petals can also be dried to make tea. The leaves are spicy, and the flowers are sweet.

The petals can also be used as a fresh, decorative garnish on baked goods. In addition, whole flowers make a pretty garnish on a plate or in a drink. 

Here are five easy ways to use marigolds in the kitchen. 

1. When making potato salad, replace a third of the amount of parsley you would normally use with whole marigold leaves. 

2. Dry marigold or calendula petals to make tea. Mix with other herbs and flowers, such as mint, lemongrass, or chamomile, for variety and flavor. 

3. Sprinkle fresh marigold petals over and around slices of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. They make a pretty and tasty addition!

4. When making a cream sauce or roux for pork or chicken, add a handful of dried marigold petals when you sauté your onions, garlic, and spices in melted butter or oil. This will add depth, sweetness, and color to your sauce. 

5. Pour four cups of tequila over a cup of marigold petals and a couple of cinnamon sticks in a glass jar or bottle.

Close the container tightly and let the mixture steep in a dark, cool place for a week. Then, strain and serve a tasty toddy with a kick!

TIP: To prepare the petals for use, pull them from the flower and then trim the “heel” of each petal. This is the part of the petal where it attaches to the base. This part is bitter. 

In India and Pakistan, these blooms became known as “poor man’s saffron” and were used to create dyes for cloth and to add color and a delightful citrus flavor to foods.

The flavor may also be sharp and spicy depending on the type of marigold used. 

Popular Marigolds Have Many Uses

There is evidence that marigolds have been used as food since ancient Greece. They also have an important place in folk medicine.

In early Aztec times, anti-inflammatory marigolds were grown for use in medicines for maladies ranging from stomach cramps to skin conditions, and they were also used when performing religious rituals. 

When the Portuguese and Spanish explorers encountered the Aztec people, they saw the importance and beauty of these flowers and dubbed them “Mary’s Gold.”

The name stuck, and the flowers were carried back to Spain and Portugal, from whence they spread throughout the world. 

Today, marigolds are very common annual flowers because they are easy to grow, grow in all sorts of settings and provide color in the garden throughout the summer months.

Aside from their beauty, marigolds are useful in several ways.

They are great for planting amongst the veggies because they repel garden pests and root-knot nematodes, and their pretty blooms can be harvested and served up on your own dinner table. 


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