Plant of the Week – Mexican Mint Marigold: October 26, 2017

Photo: If you grow Mexican mint marigolds you’re likely to see Monarch butterflies fluttering around them!

Steve Huddleston from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden featured it last Sunday on my radio program. 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 80 percent 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.

Continued Below


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;
Trim near ground after first hard freeze;
Dig and divide in late winter, just as new growth is beginning.

Photo: Mexican mint marigold has been flowering reliably for the past 20 autumns in this spot in the Sperry home garden. We love it!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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