Are marigolds a perennial?

French Marigold

French Marigold

French marigolds have been grown for ages. We love them, because they are easy to grow and care for. The brightly-colored blooms last the entire growing season, from frost to frost, making this plant is popular pick for gardeners everywhere. Along with their ornamental attributes, French marigolds can also be used in cooking and perfumery.

genus name
  • Tagetes patula
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual
height
  • 6 to 12 inches
width
  • 6 t0 10 inches wide
flower color
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant,
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Fragrance,
  • Good for Containers
propagation
  • Seed

Garden Plans For French Marigold

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Colorful Combinations

French marigolds add a bold pop of color. Flowers are typically found in warm shades of oranges, yellows, reds. Some flower with single rows of petals, while others have fluffy double blooms. If you have yet to find your favorite French marigold, don’t worry. It seems like there is a new marigold shade or petal type introduced each year.

French Marigold Care Must-Knows

Did we mention how easy they are to grow? French marigolds are often one of the first plants a child will grow—they’re that easy! The best soil for growing any type of marigolds is well-drained soil that won’t stay wet for long periods. Because they produce so many blooms in a season, they benefit from a regular application of fertilizer.

Learn about the different types of fertilizer.

Marigolds perform best in full sun, which will help the plant grow tall and sturdy and form large, dense blooms and foliage. When planted in part shade the marigold is susceptible to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. Marigolds are also prone to spider mites in the dry heat of the summer, so watch for fine webbing and treat with insecticidal soap as needed.

As a marigold’s bloom dies back, pick off the spent blooms. Deadheading will focus the plant’s energy on flower production rather than seed production. At the end of the year, if you want to collect seeds for the next spring, leave a few spent blooms and allow them to fully ripen and dry. Note that the seeds will produce plants that are genetically different from the parents, so there may be some variability in flower color and overall plant growth.

See more on thinning and deadheading your plants at the end of the season.

New Innovations

Hybridizers are always looking for ways to make this plant do just a little more. Recently, there was a color breakthrough—the first pink marigold, found at online seed retailers. They are also finding ways to make varieties that are more disease-resistant, longer-blooming, and have bigger, tougher blooms.

More Varieties of French Marigold

Disco Queen marigold

Tagetes patula ‘Disco Queen’ bears orange-red flowers ringed in yellow on long-blooming plants that grow 1 foot tall and wide.

Durango Red marigold

Tagetes patula ‘Durango Red’ produces orange-red flowers all summer long on plants that grow 1 foot tall and wide.

Little Devil Fire marigold

Tagetes patula ‘Little Devil Fire’ bears double red-and-yellow flowers on compact plants that grow only 8 inches tall and wide.

Striped Marvel marigold

Tagetes patula ‘Striped Marvel’ offers bold burgundy-and-gold striped blossoms on 2-foot mounded plants.

Yellow Gate marigold

Tagetes patula ‘Yellow Gate’ bears 3-inch-wide blooms atop rounded, 10- to 12-inch-tall plants.

Plant French Marigold With:

Bidens is a perfect container plant. It spills down the edges of windowboxes, large pots, and planters with starry, yellow flowers and ferny, green foliage. Some varieties are fragrant so plant them where you can enjoy their sweet scent. Bidens likes rich, well-drained but moist soil. While it’s a perennial in Zones 8-10, it’s usually grown as an annual.

Moss rose is the gardener’s choice for the hottest, driest, most problematic spots in the garden — even a clay strawberry pot in full sun. This succulent plant thrives in heat, drought, and lousy soil, rewarding gardeners with nonstop color. Coming in sunny warm reds, oranges, magentas, and yellows, moss rose looks at home in a sun-drenched area. There’s also a whole pastel color palette for moss rose — creamy white, pink, and peach varieties. It often happily reseeds, coming back every year with gusto.

Want fast color for just pennies? Plant zinnias! A packet of seeds will fill an area with gorgeous flowers in an amazing array of shapes and colors — even green! And it will happen in just weeks. There are dwarf types of zinnias, tall types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, multicolor, special seed blends for cutting, special blends for attracting butterflies, and more.Zinnias are so highly attractive to butterflies that you can count on having these fluttering guests dining in your garden every afternoon. But to attract the most, plant lots of tall, red or hot pink zinnias in a large patch. ‘Big Red’ is especially nice for this, and the flowers are outstanding, excellent for cutting. Zinnias grow quickly from seed sown right in the ground and do best in full sun with dry to well-drained soil.

Tagetes

Common Name

marigold

Traits

  • Sun
  • Coastal
  • Container

Flowering Season

Summer, Autum, Spring

Genus

Although the commonly grown plants are often known as French marigolds or African marigolds, in fact, all but one of the 50-odd species of this genus originate in the American tropics and subtropics. Mostly upright annuals and perennials, they are members of the daisy (Asteraceae) family, and many species feature the typical daisy-like flower structure in striking golden shades, and often ferny, aromatic, deep green foliage. The genus name comes from Tages, an Etruscan deity, grandson of Jupiter, who sprang from the plowed earth – a reference to the marigolds habit of just popping up from seed. Marigolds are edible and the flowers yield a yellow dye that is sometimes used as a saffron substitute.

Appearance

Typically, marigolds are upright annuals or perennials with sturdy stems and dark green, sometimes aromatic, mostly pinnate leaves that have toothed edges. Their flowers are often typically daisy-like with obvious ray and disc florets, but in most cultivars the disc florets are largely hidden. Yellow, orange, and brownish red are the usual colours.

Cultivation

Tagetes plants prefer a warm sunny position with light well-drained soil. Water well and feed if the foliage is at all yellow. Deadhead frequently to ensure continuous blooming. Marigolds are often used as companion plants, as they are reputed to deter pests. Numerous cultivars have been raised, and these are ideal for cut flowers. Those with pompon-like flowerheads are particularly long lasting when cut. Propagate from seed, which is usually started indoors in early spring.

Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.

© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards

Tagetes

Before we get too far into this, I have a confession:

I love marigolds, everything about them.

So, if you were expecting an article about these annual flowers that’s written with journalistic detachment, you’re out of luck. This is my tribute to the peerless marigold, recognizing its great virtues and its hangups as well, with unabashed affection.

While preparing for this article, I learned quite a few interesting things about these flowers. They are a surprisingly far-flung flower that has traveled across the Atlantic on multiple occasions. One variety of the flower is even fed to chickens so that egg yolks have a more perfect yellow color.

They might be a familiar sight, but marigolds have a few tricks available to them that can surprise even the most educated gardener. Grab your coffee or your tea, because we’re headed to marigold town!

(That sounded a lot better in my head…)

History and Cultivation

I read a nice apocryphal tale about the origin of the flower’s name.

The version of the story I read indicated that Mother Mary of the Christian tradition was robbed by bandits, but when they cut open her purse all that fell out were yellow flowers, something that would one day by named “marigold” (Mary’s gold) in her honor.

But there’s a little hole in that story – and I’m not just talking about the one in the purse.

The varieties we’re discussing today are botanically known as Tagetes and are indigenous to the Americas. Discovered in the 1500s in Central and South America, these flowers had great religious and social importance to the native peoples of the Americas, and they eventually crossed the Atlantic to Europe.

A tried and true combination with dusty miller.

Here, the story of Tagetes takes both directions at a fork in the road.

Tagetes erecta, commonly known as the African marigold, made its way to France and North Africa. After a considerable length of time, the flowers naturalized to the environment of North Africa so that when European settlers visited the region, they assumed the flowers were African in origin.

The French marigold, or Tagetes patula, had a similar journey. Their seeds crossed the ocean from the Americas with European explorers who were returning home. T. patula made its home in France and became a popular flower in the region, earning its common name.

Both species then made another journey across the Atlantic and returned home to the Americas before becoming a popular and standard choice for North American gardeners.

So what about that whole Mother Mary story? How could these flowers be something referenced in biblical tales if the Americas weren’t even discovered yet? Don’t worry, I did some digging on that, too.

It seems that the European-originated species Calendula was likely the flower referenced here. Some species, such as Calendula officinalis, share similarities with our friend Tagetes, and even have a common nickname of marigold. In this case it is the pot marigold more specifically, and they were likely the flowers referenced in this tale.

Calendula officinalis

That was a fun line of questioning that led me down the marigold rabbit hole, but you’re probably ready to learn about generalized care for these classic flowers. Shall we?

Growing Tips

There’s a reason people have used these flowers as a garden staple for a very long time. Tolerant of heat, drought, and pests, the marigold is about as easy to care for as they come.

They take off easily from seed, either grown indoors during the winter months or sown directly into the soil when it’s warmer out.

Tagetes are at their best in the full sun.

You can plant them in almost any area that receives sufficient sun, and are an ideal choice when you’re planting with style. Marigolds are one of the best choices to use when you’re a free-spirited gardener who wants their plants to be happy.

Better yet, Tagetes offers a slew of benefits for the rest of your garden. From deterring pests to attracting pollinators and desirable insects, and improving the soil quality, marigolds should find their way into your garden every year.

Water Requirements

In my book, the sign of a good flower is one that doesn’t require attentive watering. Tagetes fits this requirement pretty darn well.

When first planting these guys, it’s best soak the soil thoroughly. This is standard practice with most plantings. Not only does it give the plant a nice drink to get started growing in its new home, it also helps to settle the freshly disturbed soil.

It’s vital to protect the water-sensitive flower heads and only wet the ground.

Established plants don’t need much in the way of watering. In fact, unless the weather is unusually dry and hot, they don’t need anything besides a good soaking once a week. Rainfall is often enough for these tough flowers.

Plants grown in containers are similarly tolerant of drought and only need to be watered when the top few inches of soil become dry to the touch. If the leaves start drooping, they’re in need of a drink sooner than later!

Be mindful not to water marigolds from the top. If their blooms get too wet, they will often turn into a mushy brown mess. Marigolds can be susceptible to root rot as well, if they are over watered.

Sun Requirements

Native to sunny and warm climates, Tagetes prefer brightly sunny areas with moderately-rich soil. They can withstand full sun exposure with impressive grace and only begin to show signs of stress when the weather is relentlessly hot, be it humid or dry.

This makes the marigold a perfect accompaniment to coreopsis, and pretty much every herb you can think of.

Although capable of growing in a part-sun environment, marigolds will never shine in these conditions. In addition to developing weaker and less prolific blooms, when grown in the shade, they become susceptible to powdery mildew and a host of rots that affect buds and stems.

The gardener who put this container together recognized the habit of the marigold.

If you’ve got marigolds in a container, consider moving the pots to provide a few hours of cover from the sun during the hottest periods of the summer. It isn’t necessary, but they’ll be happier for it.

Keep a diligent eye out for spider mites when the weather is hot and dry, and look for little weblike buildups on plants to indicate their presence.

Like many plants, marigolds are also susceptible to yellow aster. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if you find this nasty ailment in your garden except to dispose of infected plants.

Planting Tips

Planting marigolds is as easy as it gets.

If you purchase your Tagetes from a retail store you’ll find a few options in plant size, but the process is always the same.

Whether it’s a six-pack of marigolds, plants in four-inch containers, or a big bowl of half a dozen plants, you’ve got basically the same project on your hands.

Keep in mind that most flowers sold in retail stores have been produced and grown under perfect conditions, so they likely have extensive root systems that are beginning to girdle the plant.

Girdling is bad news! This is when a plant’s roots grow horizontally in a circle, and can result in dead plants. In both annual and perennial plants, girdled roots prevent the plant from ever grabbing a firm hold in the soil; they’re far more likely to die and “heave” out of the soil in this condition.

With the roots growing out of the pot, this marigold is root-bound and girdled. Photo by Matt Suwak.

In trees, girdling roots can be a major problem years down the road, as the roots practically strangle the tree. We’ll cover dealing with this much larger issue (for much larger plants) in another article.

But for marigolds, what’s the solution?

Rip those root balls apart when you’re planting! Yes, it’s stressful for the plant, but it will respond by establishing new roots and grabbing a firm foothold in its new home. Watering becomes easier, and after a brief breaking-in period, you’ll find the plants happier and healthier.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

This applies to marigolds, because they’re often grown in plastic containers that roots can’t break through. I find the best solution when planting almost any herbaceous plant, annual or perennial, is to simply rip of the bottom of the root ball.

Lightly ripping up the bound roots promote future vigor. Photo by Matt Suwak.

If the remaining roots are densely matted, you can scrape this up as well.

Once the root ball is broken up a little bit, you can get to planting.

To avoid additional undue stress, you can try planting on an overcast day. But I’ve found that a quick potting up with some adjustment to the roots can usually be done quickly enough that it won’t cause too much in the way of transplant shock. Marigolds are fairly resilient.

Starting From Seed?

No problem! I’d recommend purchasing your marigold seeds from a retailer, online or in person, rather than collecting your own. Many of the better performing and prettier cultivars are hybrids and they don’t grow as well in the 2nd generation.

In my own case, the seedlings often crash shortly after germination, or when they grow they are a stunted and weak version of the parent plant. That being said, you can buy open open pollinated heirloom varieties where seed collecting is a viable option.

Seed Starter Peat Pot Kit via Amazon

If you want to have your marigolds at their prime size in time for mid-spring planting, start them indoors about fifty days before the last frost date. Sow the seeds in biodegradable seed starting trays and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite, perlite, or potting mix. The marigold seeds do not need sunlight to germinate, but they do benefit from a clear plastic lid acting as a greenhouse lid.

The seedlings should germinate about a few days, at which point they should start receiving about six hours of light a day. Keep an eye on them and thin the seedlings once they start producing a second set of leaves.

After you’ve thinned the marigold seedlings you can transplant each soon-to-be flower into its own pot and keep them waiting inside until your last frost date!

After thinning, individual plants can be added to their own pots to await the last frost before planting.

If you’re sowing directly outdoors, bear in mind that you’ll likely see the marigolds choked out by other, faster growing weeds, and understand that your flowers will likely not reach their peak before the end of summer.

Lay Out Your Plants

I’m terrible with this aspect of planting, but it’s mighty important to the long-term appeal and composition of your flowers.

Take the time to get the best spacing and planting pattern set before you dig. Photo by Matt Suwak.

Plop individual plants where you want them to go,preferably while they’re still in their nursery pots, to avoid prolonged root exposure. Space them according to the information on their tags, and step back to look at the setup.

It’s a lot easier to make changes at this stage, instead of when the plants are already in the ground.

Consider the height the plants will reach at maturity, their spread, and their proximity to bedlines and other potential dangers, like a stray mower wheel or a string trimmer on weed patrol.

Dig the Holes

If your soil isn’t too dense, the planting hole only needs to be about 10% larger than the root ball, just enough to backfill some soil.

Soil knives or hori horis make quick work of digging small holes for planting. Photo by Matt Suwak.

On the other hand, if your soil is dense and heavy (think clay), you’ll want to dig a hole that’s wider and deeper than the root ball by about 50%.

Plop ‘Em In

Break the soil up and backfill around the marigold, being careful not to damage too many leaves around the plant.

Leave a little bit of the root ball above the surface of the surrounding soil to help the roots from becoming waterlogged. Photo by Matt Suwak.

I’ve always planted with the root ball just sticking above the soil grade, maybe half an inch higher than the rest of the surrounding soil. This prevents wet feet, but it also accounts for the eventual settling of the soil that will occur.

Cover and Conceal

Settling and finishing the planting area is my favorite part of planting, except for the part when I finish the job and get to sit back and appreciate my work with a beer in hand.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

The greatest advice I ever heard regarding design and composition in the garden is, “make it look like it’s always been there,” and that’s our goal when planting marigolds.

Smooth out the soil surrounding the plants, round out rough edges, and “tilt” the plants a little in their holes.

Half a dozen arrow-straight marigolds sure look nice, but freshly planted flowers are almost always so obvious.That’s not bad in and of itself, and many gardeners love that fresh, manicured look.

Photo by Matt Suwak.

But if you want something more flowing and natural, consider the following:

You can tilt the root balls once they’re planted and before patting down the soil to avoid a repetitive unnatural grouping of plants that are standing straight up like soldiers.

With shorter French varieties, I’ll tilt the plants about 20 degrees so they’re facing forward, or whatever direction I want them to face.

African marigolds don’t require so much tilting, but a slight lean forward makes the planting appear less rigid.

Green Bamboo Stakes via Amazon

These taller flowers may require staking to prevent the stems from bending and breaking under the weight of the flowers. Use dyed green bamboo stakes and some green jute twine https://www.amazon.com/Cordage-Source-1006G-Twine-140-Feet/dp/B000FP8HIM to offer your taller marigolds whatever support they need.

Green Jute Twine via Amazon

I like using my trusty pruners to cut the top portions of the bamboo stakes away to just below the height of the top flower of a marigold, effectively hiding the presence of these stakes in the garden.

Layer In Some Mulch and Water

A light dressing of mulch will help the marigolds conserve water and makes for a neater planting area. You will only need a light application of mulch “for color” for this, not the inches of mulch used in vacant planting beds.

When you’re finished planting, give your new transplants a nice drink of water, then check on them in the next day or two to see if they need more. It only takes 1-2 weeks for the marigolds to start setting roots and becoming established, eliminating the need for watering except during droughts.

Companion Planting

It’s difficult to find places where Tagetes is unwelcome.

The flower’s scent seems to deter nasty bugs and pests that would otherwise be ready to start munching down on your other tasty plants that are growing in the garden. Additionally, the roots have been shown to deter nematodes for up to a year.

I’ve seen other gardeners plant them when rotating their crops, to ensure healthier soil.

Ideal as a companion plant, the marigold often is planted as a border or buffer around a garden, since the pungent scent is so offensive to pests. From yours truly over here, I think marigolds smell like summer, but to each their own.

A ring of dusty miller surrounds a stunning patch of T. erecta.

I’ve specifically planted marigolds with petunias, alyssum, dahlias, and another favorite of mine, chamomile.

Tomatoes get along especially well with them. Try combining marigolds, tomatoes, basil, and alyssum in a planting. It looks nice and the plants seem to enjoy teaming up together. There’s enough variety in these choices to make some pretty stunning and edible combinations.

Just make sure you refer to it as “Mad Man Matt’s Plantastic Arrangement” when your family and friends ask about it.

Cultivar Selection

Because they have rightly earned their place as a garden favorite, we are able to choose from a great variety of marigolds to fit your needs. We’ll look at a few favorites for you to pick through here:

African (or American)

Reaching heights of up to 4 or 5 feet and topped with massive pom-pom flower heads, Tagetes erecta can be a bit of a bully in some plantings. It wants to grow wildly and will knock over other plants to achieve this. T. erecta can be especially demanding of space in containers.

Still, it’s my favorite variant. The giant blooms are a sampling of delightful and cheery yellows and oranges that look like they’re straight from a big ol’ box of Crayola crayons. They might require staking if they get too tall, but that’s alright. You can always spot my home by the wall of marigolds I’ve got growing in the front yard.

Moonsong Deep Orange has a deeply saturated color to its bloom that borders on the profuse.

Moonsong Deep Orange Seeds, available from True Leaf Market

I like this variety because it exhibits a restrained and rich color that nicely accents the other brighter shades of different cultivars. This type will grow to be about a foot high and about a foot wide.

Vanilla is my go-to choice when I want a white colored flower that pairs well with zinnias. I’ve got a major soft spot for white and yellow flowers, and the delightfully creamy texture of this one finds me ordering seeds on a regular basis.

Vanilla Marigold Seeds, available on True Leaf Market

This variety will grow to reach about eighteen inches in height and sheds water from its flowerheads more easily than other African marigolds.

Antigua is a must in any discussion of this flower. Easy-to-grow and providing a nice range of colors, the Antigua series is probably what comes to mind when people imagine these blooms.

Antigua Series Flower Seeds, available from True Leaf Market

Expect tons of flowers and a height reaching between one and two feet.

French

With a daintier and more compact flower, Tagetes patula has the added benefit of possessing multicolored flowerheads that its taller cousin cannot produce. The French variety tends to be a bit more tame and comes in at a shorter stature.

I like to plant the French types with my vegetables because they don’t get as pushy as T. erecta, and offer a nice combination of color that matches my tomatoes and cucumbers. If purchased from a garden center they tend to be sold in eight-packs, my choice for best-bang-for-your-buck when buying live plants.

Durango offers intense colors with a warm orangish-red center outlined in a softer orange.

Durango Series, available from True Leaf Market

They’ll grow to be about a foot in height, so I don’t use them as often as other T. patula species, but their color really is something else.

Bonanza is a good choice to use for edging your vegetable garden or for other borders.

Bonanza Series Seeds, available from True Leaf Market

Although it could potentially reach a height of six to twelve inches, it is best utilized for its spread of one to two feet. That’s a lotta flowers!

Disco is a “look at me, look at me!” kind of marigold, and I can dig that.

Disco Series Seeds, available from True Leaf Market

Reaching about a foot in height, this is a carefree flower that wants to be left alone so it can spread out and put on one hell of a show.

Petite would be my marigold of choice when used as a companion plant. It maintains good-sized flowerheads but rarely stretches to a height of more than six inches.

Petite Mixture Marigold Seeds, available from True Leaf Market

You get all of the benefits that you’re looking for with this type of flower, with little of the vigorous competitiveness found in some other varieties.

Signet (Tagetes tenuifolia)

T. tenuifolia is not commonly planted because it tends to grow obnoxiously. It will reach places you never intended and fight like a scrappy junkyard dog to hold onto its territory.

For that reason, I don’t use them often in my plantings. But if you’ve got the room for it, we have a reasonably tame variety to introduce to your home and garden:

The Gem series offers a relatively compact habit and is an edible flower, so that’s pretty cool.

Signata Gem Series, available on Trueleafmarket.com

A coworker plants the Gem series with nasturtium and sits back to enjoy the competition each plant offers.

Ready, Set, Grow!

They’re everywhere and are among the most recognizable flowers in the garden, but marigolds have to cheat to earn this reputation. They’re vigorous growers that require little care and are happy to deter pests and improve soil health, all while putting on a great show of color through the entire summer.

They’re also easily grown from seed! You can direct sow them into the ground, or start them indoors a few weeks before the end of winter. Planting these seeds is a great project for young and inexperienced gardeners, especially children, to get started on their green thumb early.

For the experienced gardener, a marigold offers an easy win and reliable performance that can be counted on year after year. Start seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before the last freeze and transplant those beauties right into the ground for fast satisfaction and a headstart on your neighbors.

Marigold Quick Reference Chart

Plant Type: Most are annuals, partially self-sowing Flower Color Orange, yellow, gold, maroon, white
Native To: Central and South America Tolerance: Drought, pests
Hardiness (USDA Zone): All Maintenance Minimal; dead head to prolong blooming.
Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall Soil Type: Any, moderately fertile preferred
Exposure: Full sun Soil PH: 6.5 neutral
Time to Maturity 55-100 days, depending on cultivar Soil Drainage: Prefers free-draining
Spacing 1 inch, thin to 8-12 inches Companion Planting: Makes an excellent trap crop for aphids and nematodes
Planting Depth: 1/4 inch Uses: Borders, beds, containers, cut flowers
Height: 6-24 inches (depending on cultivar) Family: Asteraceae
Spread: 6-20 inches Subfamily: Asteroideae
Water: Moderate Genus: Tagetes
Attracts: Birds, bees, butterflies Species: Tagetes spp
Pests & Diseases: Aphids, nematodes

I trust you’ve enjoyed this affectionate look at the delightful marigold. It’s been a treat writing this for our readers! Send us your comments below, and make sure to visit us regularly for the always-enjoyable experience of the Gardener’s Path.

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Photos by Matt Suwak © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: .

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.

Oh marigolds, boy, do you work hard. Given an inch of blue sky and a few golden rays, you will flower whatever the month. The frost may knock you sideways, the winter rain may splash you with mud, but on you soldier through the winter and into spring, summer and autumn.

Although calendula is grown as an annual, anyone who’s left a plant in the ground in autumn can testify they are actually short-lived perennials. Calendula comes from the Latin word kalendae, meaning the first day of the month, and alludes to this plant’s desire to flower every month that it can. In return for the merest patch of soil, marigolds will favour you with endless bright orange blooms.

Marigolds have a habit of not always growing where you’d choose, but somehow in the greater scheme of things, it always works out. They thrive in paving cracks and thin slivers of soil where others might mind being so tightly squeezed. They’re prolific self-seeders, so it’s wise to weed here and there – I try to keep mine to the path edges, among the parsley.

The most simple, and perhaps the most charming, is the pot marigold Calendula officinalis. This has brilliant orange single flowers and a long history as a kitchen garden plant. Whole flowers can be added to thicken soup and impart a strange but not unappealing perfumed taste. The petals have a much more subtle flavour and can be used as a garnish for salads or soups. They’ll leave their orange dye behind if gently heated and can be used to colour everything from cheese to cauliflower.

In theory, you can throw and sow seeds on any bare soil from March to April. If you’ve paid for your seed, you’ll get better returns by sowing in small pots or a seed tray, and then planting out. Marigolds don’t need fuss: just water when the compost has dried out.

There are some pretty variations on the bright orange theme. ‘Neon’ is double-flowered and has a long stem, making it excellent for cutting; ‘Touch Of Red Mixed’ has a hazy 70s feel with shades of bronze and red; ‘Indian Prince’ is deep orange with a crimson underside and centre; ‘Lemon Zest’ is pale lemon yellow. I’ve grown numerous different cultivars, but it is C. officinalis that persists year after year as a self-seeder. Seed saving is simple: wait for the seeds to turn buff-coloured and collect. Store somewhere cool and dry. Calendula seed is an after-ripener, meaning that it germinates better after six months – that’s why self-seeded plants in the garden tend to germinate later.

Deadheading Marigold Plants: When To Deadhead Marigolds To Prolong Blooming

Easy to grow and brightly colored, marigoldsadd cheer to your garden all summer long. But like other blossoms, those pretty yellow, pink, white or yellow flowers fade. Should you start removing spent marigold flowers? Marigold deadheading does help keep the garden looking its best and encourages new blooms. Read on for more information about deadheading marigold plants.

Should I Deadhead Marigolds?

Deadheadingis the practice of removing a plant’s spent flowers. This procedure is said to promote new flower growth. Gardeners debate its utility since plants in nature deal with their own faded blossoms without any assistance. So it’s no surprise you ask, “Should I deadhead marigolds?”

Experts say that deadheading is largely a matter of personal preference for most plants, but with highly modified annuals such as marigolds, it is an essential step to keep the plants blooming. So the answer is a resounding, yes.

Deadheading Marigold Plants

Deadheading marigold plants keeps those cheery flowers coming. Marigolds are annuals and not guaranteed to flower repeatedly. But they can populate your garden beds all summer long simply by regular marigold deadheading. Marigolds, like cosmosand geraniums, bloom the entire growing season if you get busy removing spent marigold flowers.

Don’t expect to limit your work deadheading marigold plants to one week or even one month. This is a job you will work at all summer long. Removing spent marigold flowers is a process that should continue as long as the plants are in bloom. If you want to know when to deadhead marigolds, start when you see the first faded blossom and keep on marigold deadheading all summer long.

How to go about Marigold Deadheading

You don’t need training or fancy tools to make a success of removing spent marigold flowers. It’s an easy process you can even do with your fingers.

You can use pruners or just pinch off the faded flower heads. Make sure to snip off the flower pods that have started developing behind the flower too.

Your marigold garden may look perfect today, then you’ll see faded blossoms tomorrow. Continue removing the dead and wilted flowers as they appear.

African Marigold

African Marigold

African marigolds are sure to brighten up a garden space, thanks to their large pom-pom blooms in bright colors. Despite their common name of African marigolds, these plants are actually native to the Americas. These classic annuals are easily grown from seed and are much taller than their cousins, the French marigolds, and have some of the largest blooms of the marigold family.

genus name
  • Tagetes erecta
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 1 to 2 feet wide
flower color
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • White,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Fragrance,
  • Good for Containers
propagation
  • Seed

Plant your marigolds before the heat arrives.

Garden Plans For African Marigold

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Marigolds have long been planted as an easy-to-grow annual that requires very little maintenance. Coming in warm colors of creamy white, yellow, orange, and rusty red, African marigolds can add a welcome pop of color all season long. Even without the blooms, they have appealing deep green foliage.

African Marigold Care Must-Knows

Marigolds have been grown for ages, all the way back to the Cherokee tribe and Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Whether it’s being used for its ornamental appeal or because it is part of a time-honored tradition, there are so many uses for African marigold.

African marigolds need well-drained soils that won’t stay too wet for long periods because most marigolds are susceptible to rot and other soil-born fungal issues. Make sure your plants have a good amount of organic matter, as well. They greatly benefit from regular applications of fertilizer or a single application of a slow-release fertilizer.

Marigolds also perform best in full sun, which will keep tall plants sturdy and help form large, dense, blooms and foliage. In part shade or more, all parts of the plant are more susceptible to fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew. Avoid wetting the foliage, especially later in the day, to help prevent problems with this. Marigolds are also susceptible to spider mites in the dry heat of the summer, so watch for fine webbing and treat with insecticidal soap as needed.

How to Control Powdery Mildew

As marigolds finish blooming, deadheading the plants will encourage them to continue blooming for a longer period of time. Deadheading also helps the plants focus their energy on flower production versus seed production. At the end of the year, if you want to collect seed for next spring, leave some spent blooms and allow them to fully ripen, dry, and drop into the soil to seed. Take note that the seeds will produce plants that are genetically different from the parents, so there may be some variability in flower color and over plant growth.

Since marigolds have been grown for such a long time, there are always new varieties being introduced with improved plant growth. Many new varieties of African marigolds have focused on creating denser plants with larger, frillier blooms. There has also been increased production of marigolds for use of lutein, their yellow compound. This is an important chemical for eye health, and some companies have bred marigolds specifically to produce blooms rich in lutein. Lutein also a major component in feed for chickens to encourage rich yellow egg yolks and golden skin of chicken meat.

More Varieties of African Marigold

‘Discovery Orange’ marigold

Tagetes erecta ‘Discovery Orange’ bears bold orange flowers that reach 3 inches wide on compact, 1-foot-tall plants.

‘Discovery Yellow’ marigold

Tagetes erecta ‘Discovery Yellow’ bears big, 3-inch-wide bright yellow flowers on compact, 1-foot-tall plants all summer long.

‘Taishan Gold’ African marigold

Tagetes erecta ‘Taishan Gold’ is a vigorous selection with strong stems that hold up better to wet weather than other varieties. It grows 12 inches tall and 10 inches wide.

Plant African Marigold With:

Just as you’d expect from something called French, these marigolds are the fancy ones. French marigolds tend to be frilly and some boast a distinctive “crested eye.” They grow roughly 8-12 inches high with a chic, neat, little growth habit and elegant dark green foliage.They do best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil and will flower all summer long. They may reseed, coming back year after year, in spots where they’re happy.

One of the longest bloomers in the garden, coreopsis produces (usually) sunny yellow daisylike flowers that attract butterflies. Coreopsis, depending on the variety, also bears golden-yellow, pale yellow, pink, or bicolor flowers. It will bloom from early to midsummer or longer as long as it’s deadheaded.

Attract butterflies and have fun doing it with big, bold, beautiful Mexican sunflower. Plant it from seed directly in the ground and watch it soar. It can hit up to 5 feet in just weeks with big, lush foliage and smaller but still showy flowers in sunset colors that butterflies love.Put a cluster of these bodacious beauties in the back of the border to give it height and drama. Many of the taller types need staking to keep them upright. Plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

The all-American French marigold comes in such an array of bright colors over a long season that they’re a mainstay of gardeners everywhere.

Description of French marigold: French marigolds are bushy and compact with small flowers and a neat overall appearance. Their flowers come in many colors and forms and often feature multiple colors in a single flower head, which is part of their charm. They usually grow no more than 12 inches.

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How to grow French marigold: French marigolds grow best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil, although they will tolerate drier conditions. Plant them outdoors as soon as all danger of frost has passed. Space French marigolds 6 to 10 inches apart. They get along with no deadheading but bloom more prolifically if you tackle this occasionally.

Propagating French marigold: Seeds may be sown in place. For earlier bloom start indoors 4 to 6 weeks prior to outdoor planting. Seeds germinate in 5 to 7 days at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uses for French marigold: Use French marigolds to line the edge of a sunny garden or surround a vegetable garden as they are thought to repel some pests. They also grow nicely in containers.

French marigold related species: Triploids, a cross between French and American marigolds, resemble French marigolds, but have larger flowers.

French marigold related varieties: One of America’s most popular annual flowers is the French marigold, ‘Queen Sophia,’ with gold-rimmed red flower heads. ‘Janie’ is an extra-early bloomer only 8 inches high, and comes in yellow, orange, red and gold, gold, and mahogany with an orange center. Unique ‘Mr. Majestic’ has red stripes on yellow florets and golden centers.

Scientific name for French marigold: Tagetes patula

Want more gardening information? Try:

  • Annual Flowers: Learn more about annuals and their glorious, must-have summer colors.
  • Annuals: Find out how annuals can enhance your garden.
  • Perennial Flowers: Find out more about how to grow and care for perennial flowers, which come in all thinkable shapes, sizes and colors.
  • Gardening: Read our helpful articles and get tips and ideas for your garden.

MARIGOLD

In the 1940s and 50s, annual marigolds were America’s favorite bedding plants, prized for their extended show of yellow, orange, or maroon flowers. Marigolds are the traditional flowers used in Day of the Dead celebrations. Their popularity in the South has since declined, as many newer annuals that offer more colors and better performance have come on the scene. French and African marigolds, however, are still appreciated for their mass displays in late summer and fall, when other annuals are finished blooming. And the perennial species listed here remain excellent garden plants.

Native to Mexico, Central America, marigolds are free-branching plants ranging from 6 inches to 6 feet tall. Leaves are finely divided and are usually strongly scented. Easy to grow in well-drained soil. Annuals will bloom from early summer to frost if old flowers are picked off. Handsome, long-lasting cut flowers; strong aroma from leaves, stems, and blossoms permeates a room.

tagetes erecta

  • Annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Original strains were single-flowered plants to 34 feet tall, 2 feet wide.
  • Modern strains are more varied; most have fully double flowers.
  • They range from dwarf Antigua (1012 inches.); Guys and Dolls, Inca, and Inca II series (1214 inches.) through Galore, Lady, and Perfection (1620 inches.); and Climax (2123 feet.).
  • Moonsong Deep Orange, 1215 inches tall, has deep orange, fully double blooms.
  • Flagstaff grows quickly to 4 feet tall and is loaded with fiery orange, fully double flowers to 3 inches across.
  • Novelty tall strains include Odorless (212 feet.).
  • Sweet Cream has creamy white flowers on 16 inches stems.
  • Hybrid ‘Snowball’ has large (3 inches.) white flowers on stems to 2 feet tall.
  • Triploid hybrids, crosses between Tagetes erecta and Tagetes patula, have exceptional vigor and bear profuse 2 inches flowers over a long bloom season; they are generally shorter than other Tagetes erecta strains.
  • Examples are Zenith series (1215 inches high) and Nugget series (1012 inches high).

Avoid overhead sprinkling on taller kinds; stems will sag and even break under weight of water. To make tall types stand as firmly as possible (perhaps stoutly enough to do without staking), dig planting hole extra deep, strip any leaves off lower 13 inches of stem, and plant with stripped portion below soil line.

Irish Lace Marigold

tagetes filifolia

  • Annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Forms a mound of bright green, finely divided foliage to 6 inches high and wide; resembles an unusually fluffy, rounded fern.
  • Used primarily as an edging plant for its foliage effect, but tiny white flowers are attractive.

Copper Canyon Daisy

tagetes lemmonii

  • Shrubby perennial.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Grows 36 feet tall and wide.
  • Finely divided, 2- to 4 inches-long leaves are strongly fragrant when brushed against or rubbedthey smell like a blend of marigold, mint, and lemon.
  • Golden yellow flowers with orange cones are carried at branch ends late summer through fall; may bloom sporadically at other times.
  • Cut back before new spring growth begins.
  • Damaged by frost in open situations; cut back to remove damaged growth or to correct shape.
  • Tends to be short lived.
  • Moderate to regular water.
  • Gold Medal grows just 12 feet tall and wide.

Mexican Mint Marigold (Mexican Tarragon)

tagetes lucida

  • Perennial in Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11; often grown as an annual in all zones.
  • To 3 feet high and wide, typically with unbranched stems.
  • Narrow, uncut, smooth, dark green leaves have strong scent and flavor of tarragon or licorice (stems and roots are similarly fragrant).
  • Yellow flowers, produced in fall and spring, are a nice surprise.
  • Moderate to regular water.

tagetes patula

  • Annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Most selections grow 6 inches to 112 feet high and wide, in flower colors from yellow to rich maroon-brown.
  • Blossoms may be fully double or single; many are strongly bicolored.
  • Excellent for edging are dwarf, very double strains such as Little Hero (68 inches.), Janie (8 inches.), Bonanza (10 inches.), and Hero (1012 inches.), all with 2 inches flowers in a range of colors from yellow through orange to red and brownish red.
  • Aurora and Sophia strains have flowers that are larger (to 212 inches wide) but not as double.
  • Harlequin, to 23 feet tall and wide, has 3 inches-wide flowers boldly striped in red and yellow.

Signet Marigold

tagetes tenuifolia(Tagetes signata)

  • Annual.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11.
  • Infrequently grown species.
  • Flowers are small (just 1 inches wide) and single, but bloom is incredibly profuse.
  • Finely cut foliage.
  • Gem strain offers golden yellow, lemon-yellow, and tangerine- orange blossoms on 10- to 12 inches-tall plants.

Annual marigolds are among the easiest flowers to grow from seed. Large, easy-to-handle seeds sprout in a few days in warm soil. For earlier bloom, buy nursery plants. Watch out for snails and slugs, which often devour young plants. Spider mites often attack during hot, dry weather.

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