Marigolds

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Marigolds

Marigold

Close-up of an orange marigold.

Angela Altomare

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No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than marigolds. These flowers are the spendthrifts among annuals, showing a wealth of gold, copper, and brass into our summer and autumn gardens. The flower’s popularity probably derives in part from its ability to bloom brightly all summer long.

Marigolds have daisy-like or double, carnation-like flowerheads and are produced singly or in clusters. Although there are some 50 species, most marigolds we know come from just three:

  • Tagetes erecta are the tallest and most upright, at three to five feet. They are sometimes known as African, or American, marigolds. They thrive under hot, dry conditions.
  • Bushy T. patula, or French marigolds, are somewhat smaller and more compact. They are often wider than they are tall. Elegant and eye-catching, they have relatively demure flowers and usually grow from 6 inches to 2 feet tall.
  • The dainty T. tenuifolia are the signet, or rock-garden, marigolds that like hot, dry sites and make a wonderful edging. Their flowers are edible.

Marigolds have been sterotyped, but they offer tremendous variety. Both the African and French marigolds are generally aromatic, too.

French and signet types can be planted anytime through midsummer, but the tall American marigolds are best planted right away in the spring (after danger of frost is past) because they are slower to mature.

Planting

  • Marigolds thrive in full sunshine and can often withstand very hot summers.
  • Though they grow in almost any soil, marigolds thrive in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Prepare the soil by digging down about 6 inches to loosen it. Remove stones. 
  • Optional: Add some granular fertilizer in the planting hole. A 5-10-5 works fine.
  • Sow them directly into the garden once the soil is warm. You can start seeds indoors but they germinate so easily outside that there’s really no advantage. Marigolds sprout within days in warm weather and plants bloom in about 8 weeks.
  • Sow seed 1-inch apart. While still small, thin the seedlings. Space French and Signet types 8 to 10 inches apart. Larger American varieties should be at least 10 to 12 inches apart.
  • After planting, thoroughly water each plant.
  • Separate seedlings when they are about 2 inches tall. Plant them in flats of loose soil, or transplant them into the garden.
  • If planting in containers, use a soil-based potting mix. Either mix in slow-acting granular fertilizer at planting time or plan to water in diluted liquid fertilizer periodically. Take care to space properly; marigolds grown in containers can become crowded.

Care

  • Germination from large, easily handled seeds is rapid, and blooms should appear within a few weeks of sowing.
  • Marigolds don’t require deadheading, but if the spent blossoms of the American type are clipped, the plants will continue to bloom profusely.
  • When you water marigolds, allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings, then water well and repeat the process. Water in high heat. 
  • Do not water marigolds from overhead. Water at the base of the plant. 
  • Do not fertilize marigolds during growth. Too rich a diet stimulates lush foliage at the expense of flowers. 
  • The densely double flowerheads of the African marigolds tend to rot in wet weather.
  • Add a layer of mulch between plants to suppress weeds and keep soil moist, especially when plants are young.

Pests/Diseases

Farmers and gardeners have long known that marigolds make important companion plants all over the garden. The underground workings of the marigold will repel nematodes (microscopic worms) and other pests for up to 3 years.

Marigolds have few pests or problems. Mites and aphids sometimes infest marigolds. Usually a spray of water or an insecticidal soap, repeated every other day for a week or two, will solve the problem

Occasionally marigolds will get a fungal infection if it’s often wet. Avoid watering on the leaves, keep weeds down, and plant in well-drained soil. 

Harvest/Storage

  • In flower arrangements, strip off any leaves that might be under water in the vase; this will discourage the overly pungent odor.
  • Marigolds can be dried for long-lasting floral arrangements. Strip foliage from perfect blossoms and hang them upside down.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

  • In the late 1960s, Burpee president David Burpee launched an energetic campaign to have marigolds named the national flower, but in the end, roses won out.
  • For years, farmers have included the open-pollinated African marigold ‘Crackerjack’ in chicken feed to make egg yolks a darker yellow.
  • Marigolds are one of the October birth flowers.

Cooking Notes

  • The bright petals of signet marigolds add color and a spicy tang to salads and other summer dishes.
  • The flower petals are sometimes cooked with rice to impart the color (but, unfortunately, not the flavor) of saffron.
  • ‘Mexican Mint’ (sometimes called Texas tarragon) is a sturdy little herb that can be substituted for French tarragon in cooking. This species has been long used in Latin America for tea as well as seasoning.

Reader Comments

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Somethings messing with them

I live in Fargo ND and have planted merigolds for years, but this year something is taking the flowers off the plant. They are all over the ground. No sign of anything eating them..What is it?

If the flowers are on the

If the flowers are on the ground: probably birds! We've heard of starlings (blackbirds) and robins tearing off marigold petals. Otherwise, if your marigolds were just being eaten, we'd say slugs. Of course, the birds may be looking for slugs! Try sprinkling red pepper to deter the birds.

seeds not germinating.

we planted marigold seeds in our front yard in Early June. It's about 4 weeks almost, but there are no leaves or any sign of it. We planted them 10-12 inches apart as directed on the packet. What could have possibly grown wrong? These are french marigolds. I watered them regularly. I am doing this the first time and I have no experience of growing plants in past. Please help.

For marigolds, the juvenile

For marigolds, the juvenile stage often lasts a few weeks. During this stage--until maturity--the plants will not bloom. Otherwise, the usual reason for lack of bloom is temperature problems due to high summer heat. If this is the case, add some organic mulch to lower the soil temperature and wait for temps to moderate.

Marigold plants with no flowers

I just commented on my own NO FLOWER BUDS. Healthy, green foliage, but no flowers in sight! I AM an avid gardener and have a "green-thumb"...but this is the first time this has occured and I DON'T SEEM to be th only one!!! Could it be the seeds maybe too old & sold anyway? I have no idea....does anyone?

not flowering

I planted directly outside in late May and have large beautiful plants but no flowers??? They are in a sunny, well-drained area. Some that I had planted last year actually came back (to my suprise) and are flowering beautifully. Since I just spread the seeds not knowing how much would come up ~ is it possible I have them too close together? They do look like one row of bushes not separate plants. Thanks for any help you can offer =)

If the plant is receiving

If the plant is receiving plenty of sun and a good routine of water, it may just take a little more patience!

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

As long as you planted by the

As long as you planted by the package directions, the usual reason for lack of bloom is temperature problems due to high summer heat. If this is the case, add some organic mulch to lower the soil temperature and wait for temps to moderate.

something is eating them

I've always used marigolds around tomatoe pants with good success but this year its as if something has totally defoliated most of my marigolds. I have mostly sticks and few flowers on some. I see no sign of bugs or animals any ideas?

We aren't sure. There are not

We aren't sure. There are not many critters that will eat a marigold plant, so it could be a grasshopper or the spider mite..

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

wide vs high

How to force marigold to grow more wide?
Mine are growing well but very tall.

Make sure the marigolds are

Make sure the marigolds are planted in a sunny area.

As far as size goes, it could just depend on the species of marigold plant that you have. For example, you may have the Bushy T. patula species, which is smaller and more compact while the Tagetes erecta species is often taller.

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

types of marigolds

hi,
I'm looking for the short stem veriety with orange flowers, can you please help

The main type is the C.

The main type is the C. officinalis (the Common Pot Marigold). It has short stems bearing orange, yellow, cream, or white flowers that are 2-3 inches across.

merigold

The sun burned my merigold how do i revive it

Marigolds grow best in full

Marigolds grow best in full sun and usually don’t mind hot summer weather. Just make sure to water the plants. Check for spent or dead blossoms and cut them off with a pair of scissors. This promotes new blooms and helps prevent the plant from looking sun damaged or dried up.

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

Do Marigolds deter squash beetles

I am trying to get marigolds to grow with my squash, Melons and cucumbers in hopes that they may deter squash bugs. Do any of you have any experiance with this? I did have trouble with small ants eating the flower buds on my eggplants. I planted chives with the eggplants and the ants disapeared.

For squash: Borage deters

We'd pick nasturtium to deter squash bugs (and beetles). And dill may repel squash bugs that kill the vines. Scatter dill leaves generously on your squash plants. Marigolds do deter beetles. Borage deters the worms. See more on our Companion Plant pages:
www.almanac.com/content/compan...
www.almanac.com/content/plant-...

Limp Marigold Leaves

I've always planted marigolds with taller plants in the back of them. I'm prone to the yellow smaller varieties. So far mine are doing great, except I just noticed one of them is limp looking. The blooms are still fine and pretty, but what in the world happened to that one plant out of six. Could a dog have urinated on it? Is there anything I can possibly do to save it. It's a little late to replant one in that spot and also I'd be stuck with others I have no need for. Please help! Bewildered!!

It could be any number of

It could be any number of things from a poor transplant (it happens) to bugs to fungus. Check for bugs and, if you see them, insecticidal soap over and under leaves.

Marigolds and Deer

We live in an area where there are a lot of deer. We've been told that marigolds will repell deer and other wild animals. Is that true? We've plated other "deer-proof" plants only to have them eaten. We really don't want to provide the deer with yet another tasty salad.

Deer-proof plants

There's no such thing as a "deer-proof" plant but they are more likely to stay away from poisonous plants, strongly flavored plants, and plants with hairy or furry leaves. Put strong-smelling plants that deer don't like on the outside of your garden and smaller plants that need more protection on inside.
Deer steer clear of ageratum, begonias, chrysanthemums, columbines, coreopsis, cosmos, foxglove, iris, lavender, monarda, purple coneflower, rudbeckia, salvia, Shasta daisies, verbena, vinca, yarrow, zinnias. See a list with more deer-resistant plants here: http://www.almanac.com/content...
And see more about ways to deter deer on our Pest Pages here: http://www.almanac.com/content...

margiold and deer

I planted marigolds as well, hoping deer would not eat them, however, I see them starting to disappear. I have planted spike plants and dianthus flowers and they have been left untouched and are thriving.

they keep dying

i planted some marigolds and they came up but now they just keep withering and dying and i keep watering them so i no its not that and there in full sun like there supposed to be so what am i doing wrong- im growing them indoors first

We can only say that

We can only say that marigolds don't like to be wet or cold at all. We're not sure where you live. If you're from northern areas, you don't want to put in the ground until mid to late May to be on the safe side. Also, they don't like a lot of watering nor do they need fertilizer. Just use mulch and compost. Then, don't water marigolds until the soil dries out. Hope this helps.

Marigold Advise

Marigolds are easy to grow, but from indoors to out they do need to harden off in in a bright spot outside before planted in the sun, for only a few days will work, I plant about 300 by seed indoors every year and have learned by mistakes! Back off on the water and them them dry out, the roots may have become water logged, they like to dry out before a good watering, hope this helps! Good Luck and Happy Flower Season!

Marigolds

I live on Vancouver Island. Every year when I plant my vegetables and flowers I put a ring of crushed egg shells around them. slugs hate them,they also hate coffee grounds try this you might be suprised how it works.

Planted marigolds too early

I guess I planted my marigolds too early. (I'm here in Canada on Vancouver Island) I noticed they were being eaten by slugs, so go slug pellets. But they still seem like they are not thriving as they usually do. Is there something I can give them to make them healthy again.

They should recover. Just try

They should recover. Just try pinching them back to keep them healthy.

Marigold Seeds

Can the seeds from the spent Marigold flowers be germinated to use the same season or do they have to dry for a year before planting?

marigold seeds

If the marigold seeds are mature enough and the seeds are completely dried out, I don't see why it wouldn't work. We've never tried to replant within the same year. Let us know how it goes!

Marigold Seeds

I planted the seeds from this year's dead-headed flowers, and it worked! It took 8 days for them to germinate, and another week for them to form true leaves.

Marigolds

I have been able to sprinkle the deadheads around & have them grow in the same season.

marigolds

do you think it's possible to use other liquids besides water an for them to survive

watering marigolds

Not sure. We've only used water! Tap or distilled water (which is purified) is recommended for marigolds. They don't need much. If you are trying to conserve water, see our article on a water-wise garden: http://www.almanac.com/content...

Marigolds

For some reason I've never been able to grow marigolds because the one pest that LOVES them are earwigs. They start munching on them right after they've been planted.

marigold

I want to know when to water the plant for it won't die out as soon as possible.I want it to live on for a long time.

watering marigolds

Water marigold plants thoroughly when they are first planted and then during period of high heat and drought. Spread 1 to 2 inches of any organic material over the soil between marigold plants to help retain moisture.

Marigolds and earwigs

Earwigs love marigolds. Some thoughts: 1. Spread diatomaceous earth where they crawl in late spring about a week apart. 2. Mix a quart of insecticide soap with 1 tablespoon (isopropyl) alcohol and spray the areas every 2 to 3 weeks. 3. Put out rolled up newspaper to trap them, then check daily and submerge into soapy water.

Marigold seeds

For the last 5 years I have kept many seeds from the marigold plants I grow. I have 3 tall kinds but don't remember the varity, two of the types are luminacent, one an orange and the other a yellow. I have picked and dried them and get enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of dried seeds. What I do is take and toss them about in my gardens and come up what may. I just thin them out whre I want to plant crops. This the second year now I have had NO aphids and other bad bugs in the garden. I roto-till the plants into the soil in the fall so it seems to be working. They are very beautiful still. This year I kept more seeds than in the past.

Marigold seeds

Each summer dropped Marigold seeds sprout in my flower bed and the leaves do not look like Marigold plants and the blooms are horrible looking. What is wrong with them?

Your original marigolds may

Your original marigolds may have been hybrids. Their seed does not always grow true to the original plant.

Companion Plants

This Spring for the first time ever, I followed your advice and put Marigolds among my tomato plants. Guess what ! I suppose this worked because in years past we have been over run with tomato worms that ate our plants vigorously and this year we have had NONE at all (worms that is) but have had a bountiful crop of tomatos. Thanks for all the tips. I will pay more attention in future to what you tell us and will use your wisdom for my own good.

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Botanical Name: 

Tagetes

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Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Flower Color: 

Bloom Time: 

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