About Desert Marigold: This beauty thrives in the deserts of the Southwest, throwing a carpet of color over stony, dry, and sandy areas that usually discourage growth. The fine hairs on the foliage serve the important purpose of reflecting heat and the brightest rays of the sun, controlling the temperature of the leaves. Though the foliage is attractive enough to stand on its own, the brilliant yellow flowers bloom practically all season long. This plant’s drought tolerance and long lasting blossoms have made it valuable in desert landscaping, though its toxic foliage makes it unsuitable for pastures. The name “marigold” is derived from “Mary’s Gold,” a tribute to the virgin Mary. The Latin genus name “Baileya” refers to 19th century botanist and chemist Jacob Whitman Bailey, honored for his work in microscopic organisms.
Desert Marigold Germination: In late fall, direct sow the seed ¼” deep and lightly water once. For spring planting, stratify the seed by mixing it with moist sand and storing it in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks before planting. Since germination will be naturally low, sow the seed rather thickly. Thin or transplant seedlings to 6-9” apart. This plant prefers poor, dry soils and high heat, and does not tolerate shade.
Growing Desert Marigold Seeds: Since this plant prefers dry soil, do not overwater. Too much moisture and humidity will cause disease and damage. Remove faded blossoms for increased blooming; the later blossoms will be somewhat smaller. Though this plant does not last long, it will abundantly reseed itself if the flowerheads are left intact. The desert-marigold moth tends to frequent this plant, making round cocoons over the flower heads. Desert Marigold also attracts bees and butterflies.
Harvesting Desert Marigold: For fresh flowers, cut the stems long and place them in water immediately.
Saving Desert Marigold Seeds: Since small birds love to eat the seeds, harvest promptly to avoid loss. The seed heads will form in a characteristic button shape; as soon as they turn tan and begin to dry, remove them and spread them out to finish drying out of direct sunlight. Thresh them to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Desert Marigold Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Desert Baileya, Wild Marigold, Paper Daisy Duration: Annual/Perennial Bloom Time: Spring-Fall Height: 18-24 inches Spacing: 6-9 inches Light: Full Sun to Partial Shade Soil Moisture: Dry USDA Zone: 3a-9b Seeds Per Oz: 63,000 Produces a mound of downy, silvery gray foliage, and tall stems with 2” flowers with layers of yellow petals.