You Can Grow Marsh Marigolds

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Great for wet areas!

You probably have seen masses of yellow blossoms in swampy places alongside the road about now. These are marsh marigolds, also called cow slips (Caltha palustris). These are lovely harbingers of spring, and if you have a wet or damp location, you can grow some. Start by stopping to admire them, and then go ask the landowner if you can dig some up.

Marsh marigolds aren't marigolds at all!

You will need high rubber boots. The taller the better. Marsh marigolds grow in nature in mucky soil and standing water. Their roots are white and 3 to 4 inches long.

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Digging up marsh marigolds is not easy – but not because the roots are so long and tough, but because they are found growing, generally, in wet, mucky soil. Push a shovel into the soil near a clump and tip back the shovel. Go around the plant from all angles, loosening the soil. Finally, reach down and lift out the clump and put it into your waiting bucket or plastic trug.

Roots of marsh marigold

Most often I have seen marsh marigolds growing in full sun. But I have some I moved to a wet place 15 years ago and by now willows have grown up all around them, so they are blooming in dappled shade. I’ve read they will even grow in full shade.

Last year I bought a “double” marsh marigold at EC Brown Nursery in Thetford, VT. I planted it near my stream, and this year it is 2 to 3 times the size that it was when I bought it. Botanists use the word double to indicate that a plant has more petals than the standard form, but in this case the yellow “petals” are not petals at all. They are sepals. Sepals are generally green and leaf-like, enclosing the petals.

Double marsh marigolds have extra sepals

I recently called EC Brown’s nursery, and they do not have the double marsh marigolds this year, but do have plenty of the standard variety – so you don’t have to dig in a swamp if you don’t want to!


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