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Diarmuid Gavin: Marigolds pack a colourful punch - here's how to make the most of them

They're petite in stature, but marigolds always pack a colourful punch and can be used in a myriad of different ways

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Marigolds - tonnes of colourful flowers

Marigolds - tonnes of colourful flowers

Getty Images/Westend61

Marigolds

Marigolds

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Marigolds - tonnes of colourful flowers

Marigolds are plants that deserve a spot in the limelight. With us for centuries, they're one of the easiest annuals to grow and reward with tonnes of colourful flowers throughout the summer. Given its petite stature, it will find a place in the smallest of gardens, balconies or windowbox.

There are two types of marigold - the pot or common marigold, Calendula officinalis, which is a short-lived perennial and can be sown directly outside from March onwards where you would like it to flower. It's not fussy about soil but prefers full sunshine and is very quick to flower from sowing - around two months. The other type are the French and African marigolds (tagetes) - these hail from Mexico and are half-hardy annuals so can only go outdoors after risk of frost is gone. To cultivate these you can sow seed from March onwards indoors. Plant seeds into single, small modules or pots. They like a temperature of 21°C to germinate - a warm kitchen windowsill is ideal. Gently acclimatise seedlings to the outdoors and transplant into a final position in May.

If you're not keen on sowing, there will be plenty of ready-to-go plants in the garden centres but just make sure if you are buying them now that you don't put them outdoors yet - while temperatures have improved hugely, we may get another blast of frost before April is out and this would destroy these tender bedding plants.