Day 28 of the perennial plant challenge. Two of my favorite marigolds, Tagetes lemmonii and Tagetes lucida, Copper Canyon Daisy and Mexican tarragon, respectively, which are terrific fall bloomers in the garden. Although these two daisies are relatives, they are very different plants in size, fragrance and use.
Tagetes lemmonii is a large growing semi evergreen perennial, growing 4 to 6 ft tall and at least as wide. The finely divided leaves have a sweet, pungent smell – most people love it but some people like me think it smells like old, sweaty, stinky sweat socks that have been stuck in a plastic bag for a month in the sun. Obviously, not my favorite fragrance, but I grow this plant anyway because I love this plant’s fall bloom. Massive flowering of bright orange yellow blooms from mid fall throughout the winter. Deer and rabbits steer clear of this plant, but bees seem to enjoy the winter blooms. It is native to southern Arizona and northern Mexico, growing at elevations of 4 to 8000 feet in elevation. It prefers full sun. Copper Canyon Daisy is hardy to at least 18 degrees F. In frost free zones it will bloom all winter long, and if it freezes back to the ground it is almost certain to grow back form the roots. It is considered a medicinal plant, with the leaves used in teas to alleviate stress headaches. The smell is …well, either pleasant lemon mint or hold your nose stinky.
Tagetes lucida, also called Mexican tarragon, is a deliciously sweet substitute for French tarragon. The plant grows to 2 feet tall and as wide, with deep green leaves that have a very sweet anise flavor and fragrance. It is native to Mexico and Guatemala, and has sweet orange yellow blooms in the fall, winter and early spring that smell and taste like anise. The lovely thing about this plant is that it is a great substitute during the winter for French tarragon, which will be completely dormant from November to March. Plant in sun to part shade in well drained soil. They are not fussy plants, but if they are pruned lightly they will grow to be thick and full of flowers. This species of Tagetes is also used as medicine, generally as a tea for stomach issues.