The tree marigold (Tagetes lemmonii) is also known as mountain marigold, Mexican bush marigold and tangarine marigold. It is a delightful, vigorous, tough plant that grows as a sprawling large bush or small tree to 1.5m with narrow, segemented light green leaves that smell like lemon, mint and tangarine combined. Flowers are bright golden yellow and appear in autumn and winter providing bright splashes of colour for many months.
Grow new plants from seed planted in spring or by taking cuttings in spring or autumn. Tree marigold will grow in most soils as long as they are well drained and it likes a sunny but sheltered position. I’ve found that it needs very little water so it’s a great candidate for that hard to reach spot where it won’t get much attention and where you might regularly forget to water. Cut it back every now and then to promote flower growth and keep the bush from becoming too straggly.
Tree marigolds are grown for their beautifully scented leaves and I really love their scent. But as with so many things scent is in the nose of the sniffer, and I equally know people who hate it and one at least who has a severe hay fever attack if she ever goes near it. That said, for most people it is a beautiful and useful plant in the garden and in the home. Dry leave and flowers and add them to potpourri and scented sachets, just for their scent and colour but also for their pest repellent qualities. In the garden the roots will help to repel soil nematodes while the leaves repel and confuse a range of air-borne pests. Plant it in several spots around the garden and when you prune it dig the prunings into the soil to keep nematodes away.