Each month of the year has a birth flower, but for Harvest Month or the tenth month of the Gregorian Calendar, two beautiful blossoms represent it. Marigold and Cosmos are October’s birth flowers and they’re extremely fitting for the autumn month and those born in this month of the year.
Both blooms have a rich historical presence and are loved for their vivid fall colours and their easy-to-grow and low-maintenance nature. And just like October-borns, both the marigold and cosmos flower have a tough and strong character. They’re two blooms that you just can’t miss, too, much like someone born in October.
Let’s get to know the marvelous marigold and the cheerful cosmos more with these eight interesting facts.
Marigold and cosmos are cousins. These blossoms belong to the daisy family Asteraceae. Marigolds or Tagetes is a genus with 56 species of flowering plants. The genus Cosmos has 20 known species but only two annual species are popular with home gardeners.
Marigolds naturally repel rabbits and deer. The leaf of this ornamental plant has a distinct odour and a textured profile that’s unappetizing for deers and rabbits.
The African Marigold did not originate in Africa. There are three types of marigolds – the French, Signet, and Africa. French marigolds are popular in French gardens and feature double and single flower varieties. Signet marigolds are small and edible and have a single row of petals. African marigolds are the biggest as they produce large double flowers. They were first imported to Europe from Mexico via a Northwest Africa trade route.
Add marigolds to laying hens’ diet for bright orange egg yolks. African marigolds, in particular, are a rich source of carotenoids that improve hens’ immune system and reduce the cholesterol in their eggs. Adding dried petals of French marigold, on the other hand, to your chickens’ diet will boost the colour of the egg yolks due to the pigment xanthophyll that accumulates in the yolks of laying hens.
You can use marigold extracts as a natural dye. Yes, to colour fabric. Simply bring marigolds’ petals to a gentle simmer (about 60 minutes) until the water turns yellow to golden yellow. Use more marigolds for a more saturated colour. Strain the water, then soak the fabric for about 30 minutes; then dry the dyed fabric in the shade (avoid bright sunlight for it can make the colour fade).
There’s a brown cosmos that smells like chocolates. Known as the “Chocolate Cosmos” or Cosmos atrosanguineus, this rare flower has a deep brown to maroon colour and has a scent resembling vanilla-chocolate. The Chocolate Cosmos has been extinct in the wild for over a century.
There are colour-changing cosmos varieties. The dwarf Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Xsenia’ has rosy pink flowers under full sun but its peach-coral tones show when the light fades (cloudy skies and evenings). The Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Antiquity,’ on the other hand, has a rich burgundy flower that matures to antique salmon-bronze hue, giving that two-toned effect.
Sulfur cosmos is a dye flower. Plant Cosmos sulphureus and have a natural dye in your garden. Simply pour fresh or dried sulfur cosmos flowers into a pot of simmering water and let the colours infuse for about 20-30 minutes.
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