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Call on marsh marigold (aka cowslip) when you are faced with a boggy spot because this perennial loves moist soil. And well it should, seeing as it is native to marshes, swamps, stream margins, and wet meadows in Newfoundland and Alaska south to Nebraska, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Plant it in rain gardens, at the edge of ponds, and in slow-draining areas. It will cheerfully illuminate those spots with foot-tall mounds of sunny yellow blossoms—which attract butterflies and hummingbirds—from midspring through early summer. Marsh marigold’s flower buds and young leaves may be eaten only after being cooked. Raw it is poisonous. As for the marigold part of its name, ignore it. This plant belongs to the buttercup family.
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garden plans for Marsh marigold
Planting Marsh Marigold
Pair marsh marigold with other moist soil-loving perennials for a colorful garden that is also low-maintenance. Showy hardy hibiscus sports dinner-plate size flowers that are red, pink, or white for weeks in late summer. Queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra), a North American native that reaches a lofty 3- to 4- feet tall, bears clusters of frothy pink or white blooms in summer. Leopard plant (Ligularia 'The Rocket'), which grows best in wet soil and shade, bears yellow candlelike flowers that light up dark garden spots. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) sets blooms midsummer through fall atop 18 to 24 inch tall plants.
Marsh Marigold Care
An easy-to-grow perennial, marsh marigold grows best in full sun or part shade. In Zones 6 and above this plant likes shade during afternoon. Protection from extreme heat encourages the plant to continue blooming into summer and keeps the foliage vibrant. In areas with hot summers and little sun protection, marsh marigold often goes dormant after blooming. The foliage will wither and die, but the plant will return the following spring.
Key to a lovely floral display is consistently moist or boggy soil. When planting it in rain gardens, site it near the center of lowest spot of the plot.
Start marsh marigold in spring from seed, transplants purchased at the garden center, or plant divisions. Divide plants in spring as soon as the foliage emerges. Replant the divisions immediately and water plants well to encourage strong root growth. When growing this plant from seed, be patient. It will take a few years for plants to reach maturity and begin blooming.