Among the dye plants I’ve grown this year are marigolds. Marigolds are fun, easy to grow, smell great, help keep the bugs away and give a great gold/yellow color that’s wash and light fast. What’s not to love?

When my kids asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day this past spring I told them marigolds. They really came through for me with several flats of hardy young plants. I filled up two of my 7’ garden bins with them. They all grew nicely and I started collecting the flowers. I dried the flowers in the oven on very low heat.   Now I have enough for a nice sized dye pot that will be part of our fall natural dye workshop.

One morning in July I found one garden bin had been denuded. All the buds and leaves were gone. I have no idea what ate them. While we have lots of deer in the area, we rarely see them on our property and besides, they wouldn’t have been able to reach the plants in the center of the garden bins without jumping into the bins and there were no footprints. None of the other bins were eaten so I’m stumped. Fortunately, the second garden bin of marigolds was fine and has continued to give me flowers.

Another interesting fact about my marigolds…they don’t smell like marigolds. Have people clamored for a new cultivar with no fragrance? Have the greenhouses answered this call? Again, I don’t know. I like the way marigolds smell or the way they used to smell. The lack of fragrance does make it easier to cook them up, though. The smell of cooking marigolds can be really strong, strong enough to drive even those with strong stomachs from the dye shed.

Marigolds are a fun dye plant and I’ll plant them again next spring. I’ll just try to find some that smell the way I remember them smelling.