Canary yellow blooms and shiny, heart-shaped, dark green leaves make marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) a spring flower to remember. This wildflower, which blooms in April and May, thrives in boggy areas and even shallow standing water (hence the common name). It spreads by rhizome to form large patches that decorate the marsh in spring, when most other marsh plants are just emerging. By midsummer, the whole plant goes dormant. If you have a spot in your yard that never quite dries out, plant marsh marigold to introduce the season, and a few ferns, primroses, or other moisture lovers to carry on after it bows out.
Common name: Marsh marigold, kingcup
Botanical name: Caltha palustris
Plant type: Perennial
Zones: 3 to 7
Height: 4 to 18 inches
• Sun: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Rich, boggy
• Moisture: Moist to wet
• Mulch: None needed.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed or division.
Pests and diseases
• May be vulnerable to rust and powdery mildew.
• Marsh marigold prefers to be in shallow water, such as at the edge of a pond, or in a boggy site, such as a marsh or swamp. Use it in a water garden or a bog garden.
• Good neighbors for marsh marigold include cardinal flower, skunk cabbage, ferns, pickerelweed, and primroses. These will fill in as the marsh marigold foliage fades away in midsummer.
• Plant large patches of marsh marigold (or plant a few and let them spread) to get the most from their brilliant spring bloom.
All in the family
• Marsh marigold is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It isn’t related to the marigold (Tagetes spp.), which is in the aster family (Asteraceae).
• Some well-known garden plants that are also in Ranunculaceae include columbine, clematis, delphinium, hellebore, meadow rue, and of course the buttercup.
Where to buy
• Forestfarm, Williams, OR, 541-846-7269, www.forestfarm.com
• Fry Road Nursery, Albany, OR, 541-928-7038, www.fryroadnursery.com
• Romence Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI, 888-907-5268, www.romencegardens.com
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Caltha palustris by Tracy Walsh)