If you’re passionate about gardening, want a stunning addition to your garden, or are looking for simple flowers to grow, Marigolds could be a perfect choice for you.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about caring for Marigolds and will also share some tips on how to use Marigolds in your garden.
So if this interests you, keep reading!
A Little Background on Marigolds
Marigolds are a staple in northern climates and one of the most popular flowers worldwide. Yet, interestingly, almost all Marigolds come from Mexico, where they play a significant role in Día de Los Muertos.
Marigolds were discovered in Central America and Mexico in the days of the explorers, who named them ‘Mary’s Gold’, a reference to the Virgin Mary. They have since made their way all over the globe.
Marigolds are part of the Aster family, and from the Genus ‘Tagetes’.
Marigolds are famous for their ease of growing, their tolerance for sun and heat, their pungent aroma, and resistance to pests and diseases.
Marigolds are annual plants that they complete their lifecycle in one growing season. They germinate from seed in the spring, blossom, and create mature seeds by the fall, making them easy to hybridize and develop new varieties quickly.
Their brightly coloured blossoms can be single or double with overlapping petals in solid or colour blends of yellow, orange, red, and maroon, which makes them perfect for dying fabric.
Marigolds are also perfect for pollinator gardens, attracting butterflies to their single-flowered varieties.
Some Marigold varieties are edible, while others are not. Be sure to check reliable sources before partaking in a Marigold meal! Marigolds have also been and are still used in home remedies and cosmetics.
Marigold’s zesty aroma makes it a great companion plant in flower and vegetable gardens, warding off nematodes and other insects.
Marigolds have a characteristic aroma and intense flavour that make them undesirable food items for rabbits and deer.
Three Different Types of Marigolds
There are three primary groups of Marigolds:
- African Marigolds (Latin: Tagetes erecta), also known as American Marigolds
- French Marigolds (Latin: Tagetes patula)
- Signet Marigolds (Latin: Tagetes tenuifolia)
There is a fourth Marigold, called a Triploid marigold, which is a cross between African and French Marigolds, but they are sterile plants, much like a mule. This group of Marigolds is insignificant in garden horticulture.
Let’s look at the different types here:
The Latin name for African Marigolds is ‘Tagetes erecta’.
Interestingly, African Marigolds are not from Africa but were named thus because they were taken to Europe via a trade route that journeyed past northwest Africa.
Characteristics of African Marigolds:
- African Marigolds are tall, robust plants with heights of 45-100 cm (18-36″) that can eventually look like small shrubs.
- These plants work well as a background or backdrop plant for gardens.
- Their bloom time is mid-summer to frost when they sport large, double flowers measuring 10-15 cm (4-6″) across in colours of yellow and orange shades.
- African Marigolds take a little longer to flower than the other types because of the time required to grow their massive plant structures.
- Varieties with the names Inca, Gold Coin, Aurora, Galore, Antigua, Jubilee, Marvel, and Taishan are African Marigolds.
The Latin name for French Marigolds is ‘Tagetes patula’.
Like African Marigolds, French Marigolds are from Mexico and Central America. They aren’t from France but were dubbed French Marigolds because back in the day of the explorers, they were trendy and prevalent garden flowers in France.
Characteristics of French Marigolds:
- French Marigolds are short, compact, bushy plants that bloom prolifically in shades of yellow, orange, and red, or mahogany.
- French Marigolds work well in mass plantings and borders.
- They typically grow to be a clump that can be wider than they are tall, which ranges from 15-45 cm (6-18”).
- Their flower size is typically 5 cm (2”) across and comes in single or double forms, blooming from spring to frost, a more extended season than African Marigolds.
- French Marigold varieties include series names like Aurora, Alumia, Bonanza, Chica, Disco (single flowers), Durango, Happy, Hero (short), and Janie (short).
- Be sure to check out Fireball and Strawberry Blonde, two new spectacular varieties that bear flowers that change colour as they mature to give the appearance of several different kinds growing together!
- The Latin name for Signet Marigolds is ‘Tagetes tenufolia’. ‘Tenufolia’ means fine or thin-leaved.
- Signet Marigolds have all the usual Marigold characteristics, but their leaf structure is strikingly different from the African and French types.
- Signet Marigolds develop into small, bushy plants 30 cm (12″) tall with profuse small, single blossoms.
- Signet Marigolds work well in mass plantings and as borders showing of their yellow, orange, or red blooms.
- The most popular varieties of Signet Marigolds are under the ‘Gem’ label.
The Best Place to Grow Marigolds
Marigolds grow well in any sunny garden with a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunshine.
They thrive in in-ground gardens, raised beds, and container plantings alone or in combination with other flowers.
Marigolds are also a vegetable garden favourite, as they help repel many garden pests. They do this so well that they are included in my Vegetable Companion Planting Chart in my online store.
Plant Marigolds in fertile, well-draining soil; they don’t like wet roots.
How to Care for Marigolds
Because of their ease of growing, Marigolds are a great starter plant for new and young gardeners.
Water Marigolds regularly and fertilize weekly with a natural fertilizer, like Nature’s Source, or balanced fertilizers, like 20-20-20 or 15-30-15.
Marigolds benefit from a mulch layer, which keeps roots cool and balances out moisture levels.
Regularly take off the old flowers, called deadheading, to keep them blooming throughout the growing season. If the old flowers are not removed, the plants will direct their energy to produce seeds and almost wholly stop flowering.
Potential Problems with Marigolds
Marigolds can occasionally develop Botrytis when the environmental conditions are favourable for its development. Botrytis is a fungal disease that occurs in prolonged, cool, rainy, wet conditions. This infection is opportunistic, affecting compromised or damaged plant structures, leaves, and old blossoms. Botrytis presents as a brown or greyish mold.
Botrytis tends to occur on the season’s bookends, either early spring or late summer, when the days are cool, dew is abundant, and the dampness takes a long time to dissipate.
Slugs can also be a problem with Marigolds if the weather is rainy and wet. They are likely the only creatures attracted to eating them.
Related: Wondering how to deal with slugs? Check out my blog, 7+ Simple and Effective Ways for How to Get Rid of Slugs.
Marigolds are a great introduction flower for the new gardener because they are simple to tend and even with little experience produce a season full of bright colours in sunny garden locations. There are so many wonderful varieties and styles of marigolds to choose from, so they are a wonderful choice for your garden!
I hope this blog was helpful and if you have any questions, send them to my email here.
©Sharon Wallish Murphy ©Gardening with Sharon