Super Hero Marigolds

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All the Super Heros, like ‘Super Hero Orange’, have very dense flower heads

We remember French Marigolds from our childhood as short plants with balls of yellow either lining the garden in the front or mixed in with the vegetables. Today, however, some of the biggest consumers of Marigolds are landscapers and public works departments, for equally professional reasons: big beds with heavy color; results that appear in a few short weeks; a long blooming window that just doesn’t care about the season, and durability suitable for public areas. Marigolds are also non-toxic so they are safe around pets and small children.

For a classic French Marigold with modern genetics we recommend the Super Hero series from the German firm, Benary. The original Hero series has its roots in California as far back as the 1930s, but we are more interested in Benary’s 2017 refresh of the line. Their goals are the reasons why professionals want these French Marigolds.

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As true annuals, Marigolds use their energy to produce a heavy coverage of blooms


French Marigolds are audaciously effective in mass public plantings because they use their energy to create a super abundance of large double flowers. It’s unnecessary for them to invest any of that precious energy into the plants themselves since, as true annuals, the next year doesn’t exist for Marigolds. All that matters to them is getting those flowers out as often as possible and as reliably as possible.

Time doesn’t stand still, however, not even for perfectly good plants. Our industry has changed over the decades so a long-standing series like Hero needs to change along with it to remain relevant. For example, breeders today pay more attention to container performance and landscape beds than they have in the past.

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Super Hero Marigolds lay down a consistent bed of uniform height across all colors


Uniformity and consistency in a series wasn’t that common in the 90s. Back in the day a good series might be a loose collection of similar colors. However, a good series today is defined as more team and less mob—colors bloom at the same time, at the same height, and with the same enthusiasm. When you see a series go through an improvement like this it’s a sign of good stewardship of the underlying genetics.

A few years ago, Benary updated the Hero series into the Super Hero series to reflect the realities of today's market. For example, the height was tightened so the Super Heroes form a more unified line. Branching was adjusted to create a neater plant around the edges for a more regular habit overall. When planted en masse the updated version makes a bed more level and less lumpy. Colors can be swapped in and out with greater ease when creating a pattern.

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Classic double blooms of Marigold ‘Super Hero Yellow’


In the pollinator garden the Super Hero Marigold attracts mostly bees because of the short petals of the flower. It is a good member of the supporting cast because those flowers will always be there, from planting until frost, and a wide range of bees can access the pollen and nectar. We like to plant our Marigolds about 8 inches apart from the centers. They don’t necessarily require deadheading, but they do benefit from a trim now and then to clean off any debris.

Super Hero Marigolds grow about 10 inches tall with 2-inch flowers. The leaves are fern-like, built in mounds that are often wider than taller. Flowers then pop up over the top and around the sides like balls of color. Marigolds have a high metabolism so good garden soil or a regular feed/slow-release fertilizer helps improve mid and late season performance. They tend to prefer high pH soil but they are fine when the soil is neutral.

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Super Hero Mix has two solids and two bicolors


Before Marigolds were sold as ornamental bedding plants they were a feed crop. In fact the older Hero series got its start in California producing petals and extracts that were added to chicken feed to make the egg yolks more golden and the chickens’ skin turn yellow. After World War II the market changed dramatically but the Hero was such a nice plant it was easily adopted into gardens of the baby boomer generation.

We sell Marigold ‘Super Hero Yellow’ and ‘Super Hero Orange Flame’ in the 8-inch pot. Super Hero Mix contains two solid colors and two bicolors—it comes in the 1203 flat.

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Marigold ‘Super Hero Red’ paired up with a Graffiti Pentas