Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are known to produce cheerful, abundant, multiple blossoms on upright plants with bright green pungent foliage. Seeds evolve in tight clusters just below the flowers and, if not harvested, fall off and often produce new plants the following year. Even at the height of summer, they bloom profusely, and come in a wide variety of flower types and sizes. A traditional companion plant, marigolds are prized for their ability to rid soil of harmful nematodes and drive away insects, while adding a distinctive beauty wherever they grow.
Marigolds are roughly divided into four categories: French marigolds (Tagetes patula), low growing, long lasting flowers that grow to a height of about 1 foot; African marigolds (Tagetes erecta), large-bloomed, tall flowers that reach heights of up to 3 feet; triploid marigolds (Tagetes erecta x Tagetes patula), sterile hybrids derived from African and French marigolds; and signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia), marigolds that have single, daisylike flowers.
Common garden marigolds are annuals, but because they self-sow, sometimes they are mistakenly identified as perennials. Even in regions with mild winters free of frost, marigolds grow as annuals, with bloom development fading in fall. Of the perennial marigolds, you’re only likely to find three species available.
Of the many species of marigolds, only two are usually grown in gardens: African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) and French marigolds (Tagetes patula). These marigolds and their cultivars, like the African “Aurora” and the French “Bonanza” are annuals, blooming from early summer until the first frost.
Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida), Lemmon’s marigold (Tagetes lemmonii) and mountain marigold (Tagetes palmeri) are the three species of perennial marigolds.
Marigolds are frequently implemented in vegetable gardens and ornamental plantings for an ability to repel problematic insects and other types of pests. Some French and African marigolds are cultivated in rows between crops or densely planted as cover crops because their roots contain a substance toxic to certain nematodes, root-damaging roundworms especially problematic in sandy soils. Marigolds may also repel cabbage moths and French marigolds are able to protect adjacent tomato plants from whiteflies. Mexican marigolds (Tagetes minuta) are so potent that they may repel rabbits and the Mexican bean beetle as well as persistent weeds like bind weed. However, its potency makes it unsuitable for growing near some desirable plants like cabbage and beans.
Marigolds are simple to grow, and saving their seeds eliminates the need to purchase new plants or seeds for the following gardening season. There are many varieties of marigold including:
- French Bonanza Marigold
- African Aurora Marigold
- Disco Marigold
- Little Hero Marigold
- Mexican tarragon
- Signet marigold
- Mountain marigold
- Aztec Marigold
- Licorice marigold
- Deep Orange Lady
- French Marigold
- Striped Marvel
- Desert Marigold
- American Antigua Marigold
- Southern cone Marigold
- Pot Marigold
- Bounty Marigold
- Queen Sophia Marigold
- Safari Scarlet Marigold
- Safari Tangerine Marigold
- Tiger-Eyes Marigold
- Yellow Jacket Marigold
- Lemon Gem Marigold
- Spanish Tarragon Marigold
- Irish Lace Marigold
- Zenith Red Marigold
- Mexican Marigold
- Fiesta Marigold
- Golden Gem Marigold
Bonanza variety is among one of the most popular French type marigolds. It has beautiful 2.5 inches double flowers, plants have dwarf size mostly under 1 feet Hight. Plants are uniform and give a beautiful combine look when grown in flower beds.
Disco marigolds are cultivars of single French marigolds that grow about 8 to 12 inches tall. Different “Disco” cultivars offer a variety of bloom colors including red and yellow that can be planted together to create an attractive, low hedge. Like other French marigolds, the “Disco” cultivars attract beneficial insects. These marigolds are also rain tolerant and compact enough to perform well in container plantings.
Aurora Fire Marigold
Aurora Fire Marigold is among the prettiest of garden flowers. A great animal and insect repellant in the garden, Aurora Fire is short growing (perhaps 1-2 feet tall). Its blooms are about 2 inches wide. plant a row or intermingle them in your garden as a repellant to common critters. These will bloom all the way till frost.
Little Hero Yellow Marigold
Little Hero Yellow Marigold (Tagetes patula ‘Little Hero Yellow’) features bold yellow pincushion flowers at the ends of the stems from late spring to late summer. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its fragrant ferny leaves remain dark green in color throughout the season. Little Hero Yellow Marigold will grow to be about 10 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 10 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. This fast-growing annual will normally live for one full growing season, needing replacement the following year.
Mexican mint Marigold
Mexican mint marigold also referred to as Mexican tarragon marigold (Tagetes lucida) is a compact, semi-woody shrub. In mild Mediterranean climates and coastal areas, Mexican mint marigold is an evergreen shrub, while in frost-prone areas, it tends to die back in winter and regrow the following spring, more like a herbaceous perennial than an evergreen shrub. This plant grows 18-to-30 inches tall with a bushy growth habit and dark green leaves. Small gold-to-yellow flowers bloom in late summer into fall.
Mountain marigold (Tagetes lemmoni) is one of the few winter flowering shrubs that are well adapted to drought tolerant and southwestern style gardens. Shocking displays of deep yellow-orange flowers stand out in bold contrast to most plants in early to mid-winter. It is a large and billowy shrub with flexible stems and highly pungent foliage fragrance; there’s no mistaking it to be a type of marigold. It is a large woody perennial growing with a mounding habit, 3-5 ft. tall and spreading to 6 ft. wide. Bright golden-yellow daisy-like flowers occur in large quantities from late fall through winter and attract butterflies.
Southern cone Marigold
Southern cone Marigold (Tagetes minuta) is an erect woody annual herb usually 0.5m-2m tall with strongly odorous foliage. The taproots are usually short and tapering, and surrounded by fibrous and roots which form mycornhizal associations .Its stem are typically erected, woody, and grooved or ridged. Initially green but often maturing to brownish or reddish.They are usually branched only in the upperparts, unless broken or cut off near the base. Its leaves occur in opposite pairs on the main stem and usually singly on the laterals.
Licorice marigold (Tagetes micrantha) has a minute inflorescence with mostly one small white ray flower and 3-5 disc florets. The entire plant is very hard to spot and may easily missed along the roadside at middle elevations. The pappus consists of two scales and two awns which are longer than the scales. Tagetes micrantha is found most commonly near low areas and where puddles persist along the road.
Safari marigolds, which are compact and product three-inch-wide flowers. They can grow up to fourteen inches in height and come in colors that include red, orange, yellow, and a gold and mahogany mix.
Lady Orange Marigold
Lady Orange Marigold features bold orange ball-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early summer to mid fall. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its fragrant ferny leaves remain dark green in color throughout the season.Lady Orange Marigold is an herbaceous annual with an upright spreading habit of growth. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect.This is a relatively low maintenance plant.
With striped Marigold, each petal is evenly divided by a red and yellow stripe and this produces a thoroughly eye-catching effect. The bushy, uniform plants produce masses of flowers, excellent for bedding and particularly good for cutting, lasting well in water. Occasional all yellow blooms are produced through climate stress and collected seed may not come true next year.
The Desert marigold (Tagetes multiradiata) is a small and colorful herbaceous perennial with a low and spreading habit, growing 12-18 in. tall, 24-30 in. across. Silvery gray-green foliage is comprised of small deeply lobed leaves that are covered with fine woolly hairs. Bright and colorful daisy-like deep yellow flowers grow on tall stems and occur from late winter and intermittently through summer.
Signet or lemon Marigold
Tagetes tenuifolia, the signet marigold is a cutie-pie and a powerhouse bloomer that edges borders and fills containers with bright flowers and delicate foliage. Lemon Marigold is an attractive, flowering perennial or annual in the aster family. It is often grown for its ornamental value and the foliage, when crushed, is more aromatic than most other plants. It will grow best from seed that you can start indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost date and is also available as plants in six packs from local nurseries. In addition, they attract beneficial ladybugs and hoverflies into vegetable gardens.
The pot marigold, common marigold, ruddles, Mary’s gold or Scotch marigold can grow up to 24 inches tall, depending on the cultivar, and produces vibrant flowers in shades of orange, yellow, or peachy-pink that bloom from early summer through fall. It is planted in spring after the last frost and grows relatively quickly, flowering six to eight weeks from seeding.Though they most commonly are seen in varieties with yellow and orange flowers, you can also find them in subtle shades of pink and cream.
Bounty marigolds are usually red, gold, and orange in color; are roughly two inches in diameter; and grow between ten and twelve inches in height. These types of marigolds are great for hot, humid climates, and grow especially well during the summer months.
Marigold Growth Stages
Garden marigolds are annuals, which means they germinate, grow, bear flowers and die all in one growing season. Generally, their maximum lifespan is less than a year, even when they’re started early in the year indoors instead of starting from seed directly in the garden.
Because they are frost-tender, plants die with the first frost in autumn or winter, depending on whether they’re grown in a warm or cool climate. In areas where there are no frosts, they generally succumb to heavy rains or high winds that snap their delicate stems, and still do not last more than a single growing season.
Marigold Growing Requirements
Marigolds are quite forgiving, as long as they are planted in the sun. In hot summer climates they can take a bit of afternoon shade, though they can handle full sunlight all day long. They tolerate clay soil, but prefer good, even drainage.
Marigolds have medium water requirements, and they may need a bit more during the hottest months. You can start marigold seeds indoors yourself six to eight weeks before the last frost, or buy the inexpensive plants at a nursery.
Low-growing marigolds make excellent accents along borders of flower beds, while taller species can add height to your beds. Marigolds can also help protect other plants. Marigolds release a chemical that deters root-infesting nematodes. These nematodes can potentially kill plants. The chemical also reduces the chance of fungal, bacterial, viral and insect problems. Although marigolds are often grown as a companion plant in vegetable gardens, they work best if grown as a cover crop for at least two months before you intend to plant your crops.