Types of Marigolds and How to Grow Them


Marigolds are classic bedding plants. Native to Mexico, they are naturally drought tolerant and can actually grow well in soil that's on the poor side. In fact, they are so easy to grow that some people consider them too common and steer away from them. But even if you think the traditional yellow and orange marigolds are overused, there are many interesting varieties to consider.


Marigolds are cheerful annuals that come with names like Happy Days, Honey Bee, Lemon Drop, Sugar and Spice, and Mr. Majestic. They range in color from orange to burnt red, pale yellow to golden yellow, nearly white, and many variations in between. Heights range from six inches up to three to four feet. When handled, plants give off a scented oil to which some people are allergic.

General Information
Scientific name - Tagetes
Planting time - Spring
Bloom time - Late spring through fall
Uses - Flower beds,containers, cut flowers
Scientific Classification
Kingdom - Plantae
Division - Magnoliophyta
Class - Magnoliopsida
Order - Asterales
Family - Asteraceae
Genus - Tagetes
Height -6 to 48 inches
Spread - 10 to 18 inches
Habit - Bushy or compact
Texture - Fine to medium
Growth rate - Fast
Flower - Yellow, orange, red, white, bicolors
Light Requirement -Full sun
Soil - Organic, well-drained
Drought Tolerance - High
Hardiness - Half-hardy annual
  • Tagetes patula, French Marigold, is a small, bushy plant that bears numerous 1-inch flowers. Blooms can be single or double in yellow or orange, often mixed with mahogany red. The foliage is finely cut. Plants grow six to 18 inches tall by eight to 12 inches wide.
  • Tagetes erecta, African marigold, offers huge yellow, orange, or creamy white flowers up to five inches in diameter. Plants can reach from 10 inches to four feet and spread 12 to 18 inches. This species is perhaps the most heavily scented. The Antigua Series are very profuse blooming.
  • Tagetes erecta x patula, triploid marigold, is a cross between African and French species. It is a perfect mixture of the two, displaying pompom-like flowers two to three inches across. Height is 10 to 18 inches, spread, 12 to 16 inches.
  • Tagetes tenuifolia, signet marigold, is a less common plant with fine, lacy foliage with a pleasant lemon scent. Numerous tiny yellow or orange flowers blend delicately with the foliage. Plants reach one or two feet high and spread 12 to 16 inches.

Growing Marigolds

Marigolds thrive in sun in any well-drained garden soil. Prepare flower beds by adding organic matter such as compost. Though they aren't too fussy about water, keep marigolds watered during dry spells. Remove old flowers as they fade for continued bloom and tidy-looking plants.

Starting Seeds

Marigolds are a snap to grow from seed. Start them indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date or outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. They germinate quickly and can bloom in under two months.


Leaf diseases such as leaf spot, gray mold, and powdery mildew can be problems, particularly in humid weather. Look for weather- and disease-resistant cultivars. Planting in full sun with good air flow will also lessen problems.

Tall African types tend to snap off under the weight of their large flowers; plant them more deeply in the ground than in their original pots, so the lower part of the stem roots to provide extra support.


Marigolds make nice border plants and mix well in containers.

  • They blend well with yellow and orange daylilies, extending the color between daylily blooms.
  • Use the smaller ones as fillers around bold plants such as yuccas, cannas, or cardoon.
  • The fern-like foliage of signets such as those in the Gem series nicely accents more vibrant flowers like zinnias.
  • Giant African varieties look super massed around evergreens. *Snowman Hybrid, with its pure white, extra double, ruffled flowers is an ideal partner for contrasting colored blooms.
  • Cottage Red is a tall, billowy marigold-perfect for an informal cottage garden.
  • 'Naughty Marietta' is a ruffled, deep yellow French marigold with maroon splashes in the center. Pair it with brightly-colored sweet potato vine 'Marguerite' or licorice vine 'Limelight'.
  • In the vegetable garden, the scent of marigolds is said to confuse harmful insects and keep them from finding their host plants. Marigolds also emit a toxic substance that kills harmful nematodes.
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Types of Marigolds and How to Grow Them