When I was in my late teens a friend who lived in another city sent me a care package, which included some marigold seeds. I was still living at home and my mum was an avid gardener. We planted those seeds, which produced beautiful sweet-scented blooms. For many years afterward, I grew marigolds wherever I had a garden.
The marigolds that we buy as seeds or bedding plants from garden centres belong to a large variety of flowering annuals in the genus Tagete (Aster family). They range from tiny to towering at 3’ tall with flowers that cover the spectrum of yellows and oranges. Don’t confuse them with Pot Marigolds, which are also in the aster family, but in the genus Calendula.
Marigolds originated in Egypt and are grown in many countries around the world as ornamentals and for use in medicinals. Their flower petals or essential oils are considered anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant immune boosters with applications for tissue repair, burn and wound care, eye and respiratory issues.
If you’re familiar with the concept of companion planting – the close placement of different species to aid in pest control, pollination, provide habitat for beneficial insects, or to increase crop productivity – you’ll know that marigolds are a go-to for gardeners. When you plant them around vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes or beans they act to deter insect pests that can damage those crops.
Uses For Chickens
- Yolk Colour: Marigolds contain carotenoids (including lutein) which influence the darker yellow colour in both egg yolks and chicken skin. Offer 3 grams/day of dried petals in their feed.
- Egg Shell Quality: If you have issues with thin egg shells you can add marigolds to their feed to increase egg shell strength.
- Insect-Repellent: In addition to smelling good, the flowers contain pyrethrum, a chemical used in insecticides. Dry petals and add them to your bedding in your nest boxes to freshen up your coop and to repel insects.
Credits: Science Direct. Featured photo: Janet Pesaturo, One Acre Farm