The Q&A Archives: Triploid Marigolds

Question: I am writing an article for Butterfly Gardeners' Quarterly, and would like to ask if triploid marigolds produce nectar. One of my sources says that Red Seven Star attracts butterflies, although it does not set seed. I would also appreciate any information on new or heirloom varieties that are especially attractive to butterflies.

Answer: Triploid cultivars are crosses between Tagetes erecta and Tagetes patula (African and French hybrids). These are sterile plants, producing neither seeds nor nectar. Butterflies may be attracted to these cultivars because of the color and form of the flower, but won't be rewarded with nectar if they visit. (Of course, they won't know that and will visit if they're in the vicinity!) There are extensive lists of plants attractive to butterflies, and to their larvae, including nasturtium, money plant, stonecrop, strawberry, mints, lupine, wild pea, vetch, gooseberry, currant, thistle, rosemary, columbine, Buddleia, lilac, rose, lemon balm, lavender, salvia, and Rudbeckia.

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