Pot Marigold

The flowers of pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), in shades of lemon yellow, creamy white, and deep orange, flourish in cool, temperate climates. They bring glowing accents to gardens or containers and provide long-lasting cut flowers. While pot marigold is native to the Mediterranean, it’s been grown in European gardens since the 1100s, when it was a popular herb used for medicinal and culinary purposes. You’ll notice the aromatic scent of its deep green foliage if you brush past it. Don’t confuse this annual with the garden marigold (Tagetes species), which also has bright orange and yellow flowers.

Common name: Pot marigold, English marigold

Botanical name: Calendula officinalis
Plant type: Annual
Height: 12 to 30 inches
Family: Asteraceae

Growing conditions

Sun: Sun to part shade
Soil: Moderately fertile
Moisture: Average

Care

Mulch: Apply 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch around plants to deter weeds.
Fertiliser: Usually none is required. If necessary, apply balanced organic or slow-release plant food in spring.
Pruning: Deadhead to encourage more flowering.

Cultivars

‘Art Shades’ has a mix of apricot, orange, and cream blooms. Grows 24 inches tall.
Dwarf Double Gem Mixed Colours has double, 3-inch flowers in a blend of lemon yellow, apricot, gold, and orange. Grows 12 inches tall.
‘Orange King’ has double, orange flowers. Grows 18 inches tall.

Garden notes

Plant seedlings or plants after the last frost date.
Combine with other cool-season flowers such as blue bachelor buttons, purple larkspur, and red poppies.
A cool-weather performer, pot marigold’s flower production diminishes in the hot summer temperatures in Zones 7 to 9. Cut back to promote fall flowering.
Plant in the fall when its rich orange and yellow hues complement other fall-flowering plants.
Some may reseed in the garden.

Pests and diseases

Aster yellows, powdery mildew, and fungal leaf spots occur.
Slugs, snails, and whiteflies may attack the plants.

Propagation

Indoors, start seeds six to eight weeks before the last frost in a soil-less mix.
Direct-sow in spring just before the last frost date or in fall. Protect fall-started seedlings from cold where not reliably hardy.

All in the family

This family is still sometimes called by its older name, Compositae. The flowers have a unique arrangement not seen in other families. They typically have one or both of two kinds of florets. The outer perimeter of a flower head (like the sunflower) is composed of florets possessing a long strap-like petal, called ray florets. The inner portion of the flower head is composed of small flowers with tubular corollas, called disc florets. The Asteraceae family is one of the largest, and includes heliopsis, asters, African and French marigolds, coneflowers, and thousands of other perennials and annuals, plus a few shrubs and trees.

Healthy Gardening

After working on your garden beds all day, do you crawl into your own bed feeling sore, stiff, and bent out of shape? Unlike other activities—sports, for example—in which you learn and master specific techniques, most gardeners simply get out there and “dig in” without thinking about the way they move. Therein lies the problem.

Misusing your body while you garden places stress on your muscular and skeletal systems, which can cause discomfort or injury. And when your movements are awkward and inefficient, you waste effort and energy. Below are some basic rules for moving carefully, correctly, and comfortably while you work at your garden chores.

Lifting: When lifting something heavy, we tend to anticipate the weight of the object and tense our bodies in preparation, which causes unnecessary tightening of muscles. Instead, let your body determine how much support is needed during the process. To effectively lift a heavy load, place one foot slightly in front of the other. Place your body weight over the forward leg for better balance—that way, your entire body can participate in the lift, with the powerful thigh muscles (quads) playing a major role.

When lifting anything heavy, always centre yourself directly in front of the object. Hold the load close to your midline for better balance and back protection. When exerting effort, do not hold your breath. Exhale through your mouth at the peak of the effort. Avoid lifting heavy objects overhead or lifting anything heavy if your footing
is insecure.

Bending: All bending movements should originate by inclining your torso forward from the hip joints while bending the knees. Over-rounding your back stresses your spinal disks. Your feet should be a comfortable distance apart; if they’re too close together, you won’t have a stable base. If you prefer, place one foot slightly in front of the other, which helps you lift yourself from a lowered position.

5 Habits to Avoid

• Dropping your head too far backward
• Tensing and hunching your shoulders
• Bending over from the waist with knees locked
• Overarching the lower back
• Clutching with hands and fingers

Carrying: Your arms, not your hands and fingers, should be the predominant source of power when carrying objects. Avoid clutching heavy objects with your hands or fingertips. Carry heavy loads close to your midline to protect your back, arms, and shoulders. When carrying a heavy or bulky object such as a large flowerpot, rest it on your forearms and against your body, close to your midline. Whenever possible, avoid carrying a heavy load, such as a filled watering can, in one hand. This causes the body to sag or displaces one hip to the side, stressing your hip and lower back. A rule of thumb, green or otherwise: Make several trips carrying light loads rather than one back-stressing effort.

Pushing: When pushing a heavy load in a cart or wheelbarrow, use your leg strength to assist your arms and shoulders. When your knees are bent, your quads can support the push. When pushing a heavy load uphill, accompany the effort with deep, fluid breaths. Also try to keep your abdominal muscles pulled in for back protection. If you find the load too heavy to handle, let someone else take the handles.

Dragging and pulling: When moving backward and dragging something in front of you, such as a tarp filled with soil, keep your knees flexed and your back just slightly rounded. When moving forward and pulling something behind you, such as a wheelbarrow or hose, avoid twisting your upper torso. Face directly forward (shoulders squared) as you move, whether you’re pulling the load with one or both hands.

Reaching overhead: When working with your arms raised overhead (pulling at a vine or pruning a shrub), avoid locking your elbows or hunching your shoulders. For better stability and range of motion, place one foot slightly in front of the other. When reaching overhead, avoid arching your lower back. To keep neck strain at bay, avoid dropping your head too far backward. The higher you lift your chin, the more stress you’re placing on the cervical spine.

Turning: Make turning movements slowly and smoothly, whether you’re working on the ground or standing up. Abrupt, rapid twists and turns stress the spinal disks, especially if you twist from the waist only without moving your lower body. When moving soil or compost with a spade or pitchfork, swivel your entire body moving your feet in the direction you are moving the load.

After Gardening Relaxing

After working long hours in the garden, you need more than a warm bath or hot shower to look and feel fresh as a daisy. Cleaning off the inevitable accumulation of garden grime is only part of the solution. To avoid muscular fatigue and discomfort due to overexertion, it’s worth the effort to do some muscle-relaxing stretches once your chores are completed.

Weary back, leg, and neck muscles will benefit from a mere few minutes (and that’s all it takes) of soothing, after-gardening moves. Because moist heat and humidity make tight muscles and stiff joints more receptive to relaxing, it’s most therapeutic to do the following stretches after you shower or bathe. Or, if you prefer, you can practice only the stretches that suit your needs. To enhance the relaxation response, always inhale before you stretch and exhale as you slowly move into the stretch. Keep your breathing smooth and fluid while maintaining it for the suggested counts.

For Your Back

Lie down on the floor and place your lower legs up on a raised and comfortable surface so that your legs are fully supported. (You need a chair, bed, or sofa that is as high as your thighs are long.) The surface must allow you to place your thighs closer than a right angle (i.e., nearer your chest). Relax your arms out to your sides at shoulder level, palms up. Rest in this position for one or two minutes, or for as long as it takes for your back muscles to relax.

Lie on your back with knees bent, both feet flat on the floor. Place your left leg over your right. Lower left leg toward the floor to your left, until you feel a stretch in the right hip and lower back. Keep upper back, shoulders, and head on the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to centre and repeat on the other side.

Lie on your back with your knees bent toward your chest. Place your hands below the knees. Pull your thighs toward your chest, keeping your neck relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.

For Your Legs

Sit on the floor with your back against a wall and extend your legs in front, ankles together. Reach forward and hook a tie/belt around the balls of your feet. Keeping your knees straight, pull back firmly on the tie/belt until you feel tension in the back of your lower legs. Hold for 20 seconds, then release. (Relaxes calves/Achilles tendon.)

Lie on your back and extend your right leg forward. Extend your left leg up and loop a tie/belt around the back of your calf. Pull the leg gently toward you, keeping it as straight as possible, foot flexed. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 counts. Lower the leg and repeat on the other side. If this stretch is too strenuous, bend the opposite extended leg and place the foot on the floor. (Relaxes calf and hamstring.)

For Your Neck

Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, your knees shoulder-width apart, and your hands hanging loosely at your sides. Tuck your chin toward your chest and slowly roll down, bringing your shoulders toward your knees. Hold for eight counts, allowing any tension in your neck to release. Return to the starting position by slowly unrolling your lower back, then your shoulders, and lastly your head. (Relaxes back of the neck.)

Sit in a chair and place your right hand on the top of your head, above your left ear. Gently pull your head toward your right shoulder. Hold the position for 30 seconds, keeping your left arm loose and relaxed. Repeat on the left side. (Relaxes side of the neck.)

Lady in Red

‘Lady in Red’ is a terrific cultivar of Texas Sage, a wildflower whose native range includes the southern United States. This showy beauty is a bit more compact than the species, growing about 12 to18 inches tall with deep green foliage. Blooming from early summer until frost, ‘Lady in Red’ produces dozens of long, airy spikes packed with bright red flowers. Those brilliant flowers make ‘Lady in Red’ a sure hummingbird magnet, whether planted in the garden or in patio containers.

Plant Facts

Common name: Lady in Red Texas Sage
Botanical name: Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’
Plant type: Annual or perennial, depending on climate
Zones: All zones as an annual; perennial in Zones 8-10
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Family: Lamiaceae (also known as Labiatae), mint family

Growing conditions

Sun: A real heat lover, ‘Lady in Red’ will thrive where more delicate annuals would wilt away. Plant in full sun.
Soil: Will grow in most soils as long as they are well drained.
Moisture: Moderately drought tolerant, but will benefit from water during dry spells.

Care

Mulch: A layer of mulch in the summer will help conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures from rising too much.
Pruning: Snap off faded flower spikes to keep the plant tidy.
Fertiliser: In gardens, either no fertiliser or one light fertilisation in mid-summer. In containers, use a dilute fertiliser solution once or twice per month.

Propagation

Seeds: If you let ‘Lady in Red’ set seeds, expect to have a bumper crop of seedlings the next year. The seedlings look very much like the cultivar but may be slightly taller and more open.

Pests and diseases

The plant is amazingly free of disease or insect problems.

Garden notes

‘Lady in Red’ was an All America Selections winner in 1992
When grown as a perennial in mild Southern and Western zones, good soil drainage is critical. Soggy soil over winter can kill the plant.
For a stylish combination, grow ‘Lady in Red’ with light pink snapdragons, white petunias, and silver-foliaged dusty miller or licorice plant (Helichrysum).
For a bold look, combine ‘Lady in Red’ with orange cosmos, deep purple petunias, and chartreuse-foliaged ornamental sweet potato vine.

Additional cultivars

‘Coral Nymph’ – bicolored coral and white flowers, 2 feet tall
‘Forest Fire’ – dramatic red and near-black flowers, 18 to 24 inches tall
‘Snow Nymph’ – white flowers, 2 feet tall

All in the family

Some relatives of the Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’ are the blue (Salvia farinacea) and red salvia (Salvia splendens) typically used in annual flower beds, the hardy perennial salvia (Salvia x sylvestris), and the herb sage (Salvia officinalis) that’s used in cooking.
Plants in the Salvia (sage) genus usually have square stems like members of the mint family, are often aromatic, and sometimes have hairy leaves. Depending on the species, they are hardy in Zones 4 to 10. They have a wide range of colours and forms, and are found in wildflower meadows, borders plantings, or other sunny sites.