Growing Marigolds: A Blooming Guide


Emma DowneyByEmma Downey
Updated on 8/13/2022

There is hardly any annual that is cheery or simpler to cultivate than the marigold. These flowers are the most lavish spenders among annuals; they bring a treasure trove of gold, copper, and brass into our gardens over the summer and fall. The flower's appeal is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that it can maintain its brilliant blooms throughout summer. Remove spent flowers to encourage new growth and continued blooming.

Regarding Marigolds

Marigolds generate flowerheads resembling either daisies or carnations, which can appear alone or in groups. Even though there are over 50 different species, the majority of marigolds that we find in gardens are one of the following:

french marigolds

  • Tagetes erecta, often known as African marigolds, American marigolds, or Mexican marigolds, is the species of marigolds that grow to be the tallest and most upright. It may reach a height of three to four feet and produces enormous and full blooms. They are native to Mexico and Central America and can survive and even thrive in conditions similar to drought.
  • Tagetes patula, sometimes known as French marigolds, differ from T. erecta in that they are typically more compact, bushier, and smaller overall. They often have a broader width than they do height. They usually grow from 6 inches to 2 feet tall and feature blooms that are not too showy despite their elegant and captivating appearance. They are the Tagetes species most suited to living in wetter environments than others.
  • Tagetes tenuifolia, often known as signet marigolds, are dainty marigolds that thrive in hot, dry environments and make excellent border plants. Their scientific name, Tagetes tenuifolia, is also known to them. They hardly grow to be more than a foot tall at the most.
  • Calendula officinalis, sometimes known as pot marigolds or English marigolds, is a plant native to southern Europe. Although it is commonly referred to as marigold, this "marigold" is not natural; it is a lovely companion plant. Because its brilliant blossoms may be eaten and have a flavor reminiscent of pepper and tang, it is frequently cultivated in kitchen gardens with other herbs.


Marigolds require enough sunlight to develop, although they can often tolerate hot summers. Marigolds can withstand dry circumstances well, mainly African and signet varieties, although French marigolds are better used to damp environments. Marigolds are susceptible to powdery mildew and won't bloom as well if they are planted in regions that are shady, chilly, and wet. Marigolds may be grown in practically any type of soil, although they thrive on the ground that is only moderately rich and has good drainage. Digging down approximately a foot and a half to loosen the dirt is the first step in preparing the ground for planting; next, incorporate compost into the soil to increase its fertility and consistency.

When Should Marigolds Be Planted?


It is possible to plant young French and signet marigolds from spring through the middle of summer; however, it is recommended that tall African marigolds be planted as soon as possible in the spring (after the threat of frost has passed) due to the fact that they take longer to mature and produce flowers. Find the dates of the first local frost here.

Once the earth in the garden has warmed up in the spring, sow the seeds straight into the ground there. You can start seeds indoors, but they germinate so much more quickly and readily outside that there is really no benefit to doing so. The exception to this rule is African marigolds, which should either be purchased as young plants or planted indoors approximately four to six weeks before the average date of the last frost in your region. In warm conditions, it takes roughly a week for marigold seeds to germinate, and it takes the plants around eight weeks to produce flowers.

How To Get Marigolds Started


Marigolds from France are quickly grown from seed. However, African marigolds should be obtained as young plants for the best results (when started from seed, they can take a long time to flower).
Optional: In the event that the soil is deficient in nutrients, incorporate some slow-release fertilizer (granular form) into the planting hole. It is sufficient to use a 5-10-5.

After moistening the ground, plant seeds at a distance of one inch apart and no more than one inch deep. When the seedlings are still relatively young, you should trim them out. Leave a gap of between 8 and 10 inches between French and signet kinds. A minimum of 10 to 12 inches of space should be left between the bigger African marigolds. If you are using transplants, make sure to give each plant plenty of water after placing it in the garden. If you are planting in pots, you should use a potting mix that contains dirt. Either include a slow-acting granular fertilizer during the planting process or make plans to water the plant frequently with diluted liquid fertilizer. Take care to properly space the marigolds since they may quickly get overcrowded if planted in containers.

A Guide To Cultivating Marigolds


When the marigolds have become well-established in their environment, pinch off the tips of the plants to stimulate bushier growth in the plants. This will prevent the plants from growing leggy and will result in an increase in the number of flowers produced.
Marigolds do not require deadheading; nevertheless, removing spent blossoms on a regular basis will encourage the plant to continue producing an abundance of flowers even after the deadheading process has been completed. When you water marigolds, you should let some time pass in between waterings to enable the soil to dry up; then, you should moisturize well and repeat the procedure. When the temperature is really high, drink more water.

It is essential to avoid watering marigolds from above. Put some water in the plant's root zone. (Powdered mildew can develop on leaves if there is an excess of water.)

African marigolds

Marigolds should not be fertilized while they are growing. A diet that contains an excessive amount of nitrogen encourages the growth of luxuriant foliage at the expense of blossoms. In damp conditions, the thick double flowerheads that are characteristic of African marigolds are prone to rotting. When the plants are young, it is imperative to apply a layer of mulch in order to prevent weeds from growing and to keep the soil moist.

How To Remove The Marigold's Dead Heads

french marigolds

During the process of deadheading, fading blooms are removed from the plant by pinching off the flower head. When it comes to some plants, such as marigolds, pinching off the dead flower heads encourages the plant to generate additional blooms rather than spending its energy on developing seeds. This allows the flowering season to last for a more extended period of time. Marigolds are another plant that benefits significantly from having their spent flowers removed.

The process of deadheading marigolds is relatively easy. When you notice that a flower has begun to wilt, pinch the stem of the blossom back until you reach the nearest set of leaves.

Remember to fertilize your annuals whether or not you plan on removing the spent flowers from them. Annuals are really heavy feeders and will do very well with this treatment.


Marigolds are available in a variety of sizes and hues, ranging from a milky white to an orange-golden shade. The American and African forms of marigold are often much larger than the French types.

  • Marigolds from France (T. patula)


The 'Little Hero' Series consists of plants that grow to a height of 7 inches and bear huge, double carnation blooms in seven different color combinations that include maroon, orange, and yellow.

  • The 'Hero' Series consists of plants that grow to a height of 10 inches and have enormous, double carnation blooms that are 2 inches across and come in seven distinct color combinations of yellow, orange, and burgundy. 

  • 'Bonanza' Series has double carnation blooms that are 2 inches wide and come in 5 various color combinations of yellow, orange, and maroon. The plants are bushy and compact and stand 8 inches tall.
    The 'Aurora' Series consists of plants that grow to a height of one foot and have blooms that resemble anemones, and have wide-petaled, maroon, yellow, and orange petals.
  • 'Janie' Series: Early blossoming. Plants that are 8 inches tall are the ideal height for growing in containers. Flowers that resemble double carnations come in six various color combinations, including yellow, orange, and burgundy.
  • The 'Boy O' Boy' Series consists of plants that grow to a height of 6 inches and bloom prolifically. Their blooms are various colors of red, yellow, and orange.
  • Marigolds from the Americas and Africa (T. erecta)
    The 'Jubilee' Series consists of plants that grow to a height of two feet and have thick, double blossoms in various colors of yellow and orange.
  • The 'Gold Coin' Series consists of plants that grow between 112 and 2 feet tall and have enormous (5 inches wide) double flowers in gold, yellow, and orange.
    The 'Safari' Series consists of plants that grow to a height of one foot and have enormous, flat-topped blooms in colors of red, yellow, and orange.
  • 'French Vanilla' has blossoms that are three inches across and a pure, creamy white color—minimal smell. Plants may grow up to a height of 1.5 feet.



It is best to remove any leaves from flower arrangements that will be submerged in water in the vase. Doing so will help to reduce the overpoweringly fragrant odor.
Marigolds, once dried, may be used to create flower arrangements that will survive for a very long time. Remove the leaves off flawless flowers and suspend them in an inverted position.
It is possible that you will see "marigolds" described as an edible flowers. In point of fact, the calendula flowers, not the Tagetes leaves or stems, are what make beautiful accents to a summer dinner. Because the flowers of Tagetes marigolds have the potential to cause skin irritation, we do not advise consuming them in any form.

Wisdom And Creativity

David Burpee, president of Burpee, began a vigorous campaign in the late 1960s in the hopes of having marigolds recognized as the nation's official flower. However, roses were ultimately selected for this honor.
Crackerjack is an open-pollinated variety of the African marigold that has been used for decades by farmers as an ingredient in chicken feed to get a deeper yellow color in egg yolks.
One of the flowers associated with the month of October is the marigold.



Although spider mites and aphids aren't often an issue for marigolds, these two pests can occasionally make their way onto the plants. The problem may frequently be remedied by using an insecticidal soap or spraying the area with water every other day for a week or two. In extreme cases, the issue may require professional assistance. If the circumstances are excessively damp, marigolds may become infected with fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. This can happen on occasion. Avoid getting water on the leaves of the marigolds, keep weeds under control, and plant in soil that drains well to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Marigolds are often recommended as companion plants.

It has been common knowledge for a long time among farmers and gardeners that marigolds make excellent companion plants throughout the garden.

Nematodes are tiny worms that feed on the roots of garden crops. In particular, root-knot and lesion nematodes are known to be repelled by the subterranean workings of the French marigold plant. Tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, snap beans, squash, onions, and garlic are some of the crops that are most negatively damaged.


Avoid planting marigolds in close proximity to vegetable gardens if you want to take advantage of this impact. Instead of doing that, produce a large number of marigolds in the spring in the region where you expect to raise a crop in the fall. Please take out the marigolds in the middle to late part of the summer and replace them with veggies and greens for a harvest in the fall.

Cooking Notes

It is not possible to eat the blooms of Tagetes marigolds, but you may consume those of Calendula. Salads and other summertime meals get a splash of color and a kick of spiciness from the addition of calendula petals.

When the flower petals are boiled with rice, the color of saffron is transferred to the rice; regrettably, the flavor is not transferred.