The Q&A Archives: white marigolds

Question: Hi! My mom says that when she was young, her father told her that the Burpee company offered a big money prize ($10,000?) If someone could develop a white marigold.<br>They're available from you now, so someone must have done it. Is that true about the prize, and if so, when did the white marigold become available?

Answer: In 1954 David Burpee turned an experimental project into a promotion. He offered $10,000 to the first gardener who could provide seed for a white marigold, something that did not exist at the time. A pale lemon was the closest. During the next 20 years, more than 80,000 people sent in seeds, some received $100 for "good tries". In 1975 the $10,000 prize was finally awarded to Alice Vonk, the widow of an Iowa farmer. By that time Burpee had come the closest to white with 'Snowbird' but, a panel of six horticultural professors reviewed the six top submissions and decided that Mrs. Vonk's deserved the prize.

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