Popular with gardeners coast to coast, Marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are one of the easiest — and most beautiful — annuals to grow. These dense, compact flowers can range in color from pale yellow to deep orange to mahogany, making a spectacular addition to pots, baskets and borders or simply scattered throughout the garden. This quick germinator has a distinct spicy aroma and makes the perfect companion plant. Marigolds add a splash of color all summer long and even look great as dried floral arrangements in a vase too!
Marigolds are not fussy and tolerate a wide range of soil and climate conditions, but they love the heat most of all. Many varieties are available of this cheerful garden favorite, from miniature to giant. Try growing marigolds in and around your vegetable garden to repel insect pests. Hardy annual, 10-18 inches tall.
Fun Fact: In Macer’s Herbal, a 10th century manuscript on the healing properties of plants, marigolds were said to draw evil out of the head and strengthen the eyesight.
One of the simplest – and most beautiful – annuals to grow in the garden.View all
Heirloom marigolds are one of the most uncomplicated – and most beautiful – annuals to grow.
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Marigolds
- Bright yellow is the most common petal color, but some varieties are pale yellow to deep orange.
- Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost or plant seedlings outdoors after the last frost.
- Choose a site with full sun and soil amended with compost.
- Water regularly; protect from danger of frost (excess water on leaves can lead to powdery mildew)
- An annual that blooms all season long
- Do not fertilize marigolds during growth. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers stimulate foliage at the expense of flowers.
- Granular fertilizer can be added during planting time if your soil needs nutrients. Alternately, you may water with diluted liquid fertilizer. Note fertilizers can create lush foliage at the expense of blossoms.
- Marigolds will begin to bloom in about 8 weeks.
Sunlight: Full sun. Marigolds won’t bloom well if planted in the shade.
Maturity: 50-80 days from seed to flower
Height: 6 to 18 inches
Spacing: 8 to 18 inches apart in all directions
Zones: 2 to 11 (USDA)
Marigolds are not finicky and will tolerate most conditions. Marigolds likely won’t need supplemental fertilizer and will usually thrive with rich, well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. Generous amounts of organic compost or well-aged manure mixed into the garden before planting will greatly improve the health of flowers (see Springtime Garden Soil Preparation). Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
How to Plant Marigolds
Sow seed directly in the ground and cover with a thin layer of soil (about 1/8 inch deep). Water thoroughly. Thin to 8-18 inches apart after seedlings have sprouted. The marigold plant can also be started early indoors under grow lights for transplanting outdoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Read our article Starting Annual Flowers Indoors to learn more.
Once established and healthy, marigolds will continue growing easily, even if left unattended.
Water to keep the soil moist.
Do not water Marigolds from overhead. It is best to water at the base of the plant.
Provide nutrients monthly with a bud and bloom booster once plants have started flowering. Pinch off the spent blossoms to extend the flowering season. Mulch to prevent weeds, conserve moisture and improve aesthetics. Marigolds will not survive a hard frost or freeze.
Marigold’s Insect & Disease Problems
Marigolds have few problems with insect pests. In fact, the flowers can be planted around cabbage and broccoli plants to help deter and repel cabbage moths. Read our Companion Planting Guide to learn how some plants perform better when grown together.
Spray soft-bodied pests, like aphids and spider mites, with a strong stream of water to reduce pest numbers or spot treat heavily infested areas with Safer’s® Soap for immediate control.
Seed Saving Instructions for Marigolds
Marigolds will produce lots of seed in a similar fashion to zinnia or calendula. When the blooms dry out, cut them off and hang upside down in bundles. The seeds are contained in the heads and, once dry and crisp, can be hand-crushed and winnowed from the seed chaff.
Different Varieties of Marigold Flowers
African Marigolds (Tagetes erecta), also known as American Marigolds or Mexican Merigolds, grow stunning full flowers upwards to 4 feet tall. Since they can grow so tall, light staking for support is often seen in the event of strong winds. This variety should also be planted in early spring and will usually have bright orange or yellow petals with double flowers.
French Marigolds (Tagetes patula) are smaller yet bushier than the African Marigolds. This variety grows from 6 inches to 2 feet tall. French Marigolds are better suited for rainy weather and are considered more tolerant to wet conditions. ‘Durango’ varieties have a range of yellow, red or orange hues. ‘Naughty Marietta’ has single yellow petals adorned with patches of mahogany.
Signet Marigolds(Tagetes tenuifolia) are smaller marigolds that do well in dry and hot climates. Unlike the African merigolds, the signet marigolds rarely reach 12 inches in height.
Pot Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) aka English marigolds are natives of southern Europe. This variety is actually not even a true marigold but is in the same Asteraceae family. Pot marigolds are herbs often grown for medicinal reasons. You’ll recognize these plants because they adore bright edible blooms that are tangy and mildly spicy.
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