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How to Grow Marigolds


Marigolds are one of the most popular annual flowers, easily grown from seed or transplant, and when given the right conditions will overflow with bright blossoms that fill a garden or container with cheerful color.

Tagetes (marigolds) vary in size from low edging plants to tall cut flowers, with blooms that range in mostly solid colors of orange, golden yellow, and white, sometimes with decorative darker highlights along petals edge.

Equally suited for containers, as they are in the garden, the blossoms and foliage emit a clean, crisp scent and are an excellent companion plant to repel insects and nematodes in the soil.

When & Where to Plant Marigolds

Light: Full sun, to partial shade.

Soil: Marigolds prefer fertile soil, preferably loose and loamy with adequate drainage, yet can also tolerate dry conditions.

Spacing: Sow seeds directly in the garden 1-inch apart, or in seed trays to transplant with root system is established. For shorter varieties, plant 8 inches apart, or 10-12 inches apart for the larger African types. Be sure leave enough room for plants to grow with enough air circulation.

Planting: Start seeds indoors, 4- 6 weeks before frost-free date. Place in a sunny window, and then transplant seedlings into the garden when danger of frost is past. Sow directly in the garden after danger of frost. Can be planted throughout the summer for a succession of blooms.

How to Grow Marigolds Throughout the Season

Growth Habit: Marigolds are compact growing, and will not sprawl, as many other annuals are prone to do. Keep spent blossoms and stems are pruned to encourage bushier growth.

Staking: Shorter varieties require no staking. Taller, cut flower types may benefit from staking to avoid falling over in strong wind.

Watering: Marigolds prefer the soil to dry out in between watering; yet can also be finicky if their leaves are wet. Plan to water at the base of the plant, and keep soil moist, yet not overly wet.

Fertilizing: Plant in nutrient rich soil, and fertilize, as needed. Too much fertilizer will stimulate lush foliage, at the expense of flowers.

Trimming & Pruning: Marigolds do not require as much deadheading as other annuals, although removing dead blossoms and stems will encourage new growth, and improve overall appearance.

Mulching: Mulch can be added around young plants to keep away weeds, and to provide moisture to the roots.

african marigold close up
African Marigold make great cut flowers due to their bright blooms, and fun shapes.

Marigolds: End of Season Care

Marigolds are particularly susceptible to cold weather, and will not tolerate frost. Once the plants are finished for the season, with foliage turning lack, pull the whole plant including the roots, and place on the compost pile.

Dividing & Transplanting: Marigolds grow from a single stem, and are not usually divided during the growing season. Young plants transplant easily, once a strong root system is established.

Pests/Disease: Marigolds are relatively pest free, and often used as a natural repellant for other garden plants. The foliage may be prone to gray mold or leaf spot, and powdery mildew, in wet conditions. Young plants can often develop damping off disease when grown too tightly, and if overwatered.

Additional Concerns: Due to the antibacterial thiophenes contained in the roots, it should not be planted near legumes crops.

Marigolds: Extra Info

Companion Plants: Marigolds are one of the most popular bedding plants, used frequently in containers as well as the flower and vegetable garden. Plant the shorter varieties in the front border, along with a blue or purple blooming plants, as these colors will be vibrant against the bright orange and golden yellow of the marigold blossoms.

Favorites include NigellaPetunia, and Borage, which all thrive in full sun. Marigolds are especially good in the vegetable garden as a companion plant for tomatoes, eggplant, chili pepper and potatoes. Other edible flowers to grow along with Marigold would be nasturtium, chives and calendula.

Additional Uses: Blossoms are edible, yet not great tasting, with the exception of signet marigolds (T. tenuifolia), which are single blossoms and preferred by most chefs and cooks.

Can be used whole, or separate the petals before adding to salads or garnishing a plate. Marigolds are the main flower used in decorative garlands at weddings, festivals and religious events in Nepal and Mexico.

marigolds in backyard container garden
Marigolds are great for container planting, or small raised beds and look great with Black Eyed Susans

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