Plant of the Week: October 27, 2016
Botanically it’s Tagetes lucida, so that puts it into the true marigold camp. It’s called Mexican mint marigold, and people from Mexico recognize it instantly. It’s also called French tarragon, and better chefs than I say it can be used as a substitute for the more finicky, heat-hating tarragon.
Mexican mint marigold doesn’t look like the marigolds you buy in the springtime. Nor does it act like them. Here are a few of the differences.
Mexican mint marigold is…
• Perennial (at least in the southern half of Texas);
• Pleasantly fragrant (the aroma of licorice/anise when you brush against it);
• Unaffected by spider mites (which riddle the common annual African and French marigolds);
• Rather upright (to 18 inches tall, spreading more by clumping than by branching); and
• Magnetic to butterflies, including migrating Monarchs.
Tips to growing it…
• Full sun;
• Highly organic, well-draining soil;
• Toward back of perennial plantings;
• Plant alongside fall asters or Mexican bush sage for contrast of colors;
• Some modest means of enclosure such as metal or rubber edging inserted fully into the soil or perhaps large nursery pot with bottom cut out – the plant can be a tiny bit invasive;
• Trim near ground after first hard freeze;
• Dig and divide in late winter, just as new growth is beginning.