Plants

Marigold

Tagetes-Hybrids

With their colorful flower heads, marigolds bring joy all summer long. Versatile Marigolds are not just beautiful, but also beneficial - and even edible.

Growth type
  • one year old
Growth height (from)
from 15 cm to 60 cm
Growth width (from)
from 0 cm to 0 cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
Flower color
  • yellow
  • orange
  • red
  • multicolored
Flowering time (month)
  • June to October
Flower shape
  • Flowercups
Flower characteristics
  • lightly fragrant
  • non-pleasant odor
  • unfilled
  • slightly filled
  • tightly filled
  • hermaphroditic
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • pinnate
  • feathered
Fruit shape
  • nut fruit
Fruit characteristics
  • unimpressive
Light
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to moderately humid
ph value
  • weakly alkaline to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • moderately nutritious
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Nectar or pollen plant
Toxicity
  • non-toxic
Winter Hardness
  • frost-sensitive
Use
  • Flowerbeds
  • Bouquets
  • Borders
  • Grave planting
  • Group planting
  • Planters
  • Surface greening
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • cottage garden
  • Flower garden
  • Roof Garden
  • Vegetable Garden
  • Pot garden
  • Cemetery

Origin

Marigolds (Tagetes) are part of the daisy family (Asteraceae) and are colorful summer flowers from hot, dry Central and South America. They were already being cultivated in Central European gardens around 400 years ago. They are known in their native lands as flowers of the dead. The genus contains around 60 species and is part of the large daisy family (Asteraceae). It established itself as one of the most popular summer flowers for beds and balconies early on. Its name refers to the Etruscan demigod Tages, who symbolizes wisdom and the interpretation of omens in mythology.

Marigolds are categorized into four different hybrid groups with various characteristics: Marigolds in the “African” group have compact growth and large, double flowers. They descend from the large, wild Tagetes erecta. “French” marigolds are Tagetes patula hybrids and stand out with the striking colors in their flower centers. “Afro-French” hybrids are crosses between Tagetes erecta and Tagetes patula. They stand out thanks to their multitude of small flowers. The “signet” group is based on cultivars of the filigree Tagetes tenuifolia, and has very natural-looking flowers that are retained over a long period.

Growth

Marigolds grow upright and bushy, and a few varieties are also half shrubs. They grow to around 12 to 20 inches tall, while the shrubby species (such as Tagetes lemmonii) can grow up to 59 inches tall. In temperate zones, these tenacious plants are cultivated as annuals as they are not frost-hardy.

Marigold flowers attract bees

Marigold flowers attract bees

Leaves

The Marigold’s dark green foliage tends to be pinnate or strongly lobed, which makes the carpet of leaves look very delicate. These filigree leaves have given the marigold the name “Irish Lace”. Their strong smell, emitted from the leaves, is distinctive and not to everyone’s taste. In newer varieties, this has been bred out or transformed into a citrussy scent. The leaves of the signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) are edible and can be used to flavor dishes or to make tea.

Flowers

The basket-shaped inflorescences grow individually at the end of a stem. Its colors range from punchy yellow to orange to red and chestnut brown. Marigolds may be one-tone, patterned or double, with large or small heads, a wild feel or large ball-shaped flowers. Some varieties (Tagetes erecta and “African” hybrids) bear flowers measuring up to 3.94 inches in diameter! They flower from June to October. Just like the leaves, the flowers of certain marigold varieties can also be eaten.

Marigold with a dense double flower

As well as single, wild-looking flowers, some varieties have dense double flowers

Location

Marigolds come from a hot, dry region, so love the sun. But these small summer bloomers also manage well in partial shade. As they prefer unprotected slopes in their South American homelands, marigolds are resistant to both wind and rain.

Soil

In order to produce their intense flowers, these plants require medium-heavy, nutrient-rich, permeable soil and consistent moisture.

Sowing

It’s so easy to grow marigolds, even a child could do it. All you need to sow seed is - apart from the seed itself - a propagation tray and low-nutrient potting soil. Sow Marigolds under cover from February to March. Marigolds are light germinators, so the seeds only germinate when lightly sprinkled with soil. The substrate should be kept constantly damp. With a germination temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit in a bright spot with indirect sun, the first seedlings will appear in just a few weeks. As soon as these are around one hand width’s tall, you can prick out and plant them into their own pots. Early growing indoors gives the plants a little head-start in terms of growth. Marigolds are so robust that you can even sow them direct from the end of April. If sowing direct outdoors, the flowers will, of course, appear later than those on plants grown earlier.

Marigolds in a vegetable bed

After the final frost, early marigolds can move to the bed

Planting Marigolds

By the time planting season rolls around in May, marigolds are already being offered for sale as young plants. These, or specimens that you have grown early yourself, can be planted out in the bed after the final frost. A short distance between the plants is enough, as most varieties remain quite short, and their pinnate leaves do not spread outwards particularly quickly.

Care

You must ensure a good water supply, particularly in full sun, as Marigolds do not tolerate dry soil. To encourage flowering, dead heads should be regularly removed. Otherwise, robust marigolds have few needs and are very easy to care for. As they are a favorite among slugs and snails, you should regularly check the plants for signs of snacking. If you are growing your Marigolds in pots, you should provide these nutrient-loving plants with liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every two weeks.

Deadheading Marigolds

Regular deadheading encourages new flowers to grow

Where to plant

Planted in larger groups or as a carpet, marigolds are really visually striking. They are therefore often planted in public gardens and at garden shows as large carpets of summer flowers. They are also suitable for container gardening, planting in strips to contain beds or adding to medicinal and decorative gardens. With their bold colors, they are ideal for cottage gardens. In combination with other herbaceous perennials such as Solidago, Sneezeweed (Helenium), Cosmos, Pot Marigold (Calendula) or California poppies, they look lively and informal. As these easy-going summer bloomers grow very quickly, they are great for filling larger holes in perennial beds.

Plants with flowers in blue, white, yellow and red harmoniously complement the marigold’s generally yellow-orange to rusty red color palate. Beautiful companions for container gardens include red China pinks (Dianthus chinensis), Blue Lobelias, Busy Lizzie (Impatiens walleriana hybrids) and Scarlet sage (Salvia splendens). The foliage of the marigold plant contains spicy aromatics and can be used to flavor dishes.

Marigold in the summer flower bed

Bold combination: the yellow Marigold flower heads harmoniously complement the blue spikes of mealy sage

Alongside its qualities as a decorative and medicinal plant, strong-smelling marigold varieties can also be used as biological pest control against nematodes, ants and whiteflies. They are simply planted between the at-risk plants and keep the soil healthy. The roots of many Marigold species (especially Tagetes patula) contain toxins that are fatal to pests. These are released when the nematodes damage the roots. These summer flowers are therefore valuable members of mixed gardens with vegetables or can be used as green manure. Marigold can be planted around vegetable beds to form a barrier that deters slugs and snails. In a greenhouse, underplanting Marigolds beneath climbing cucumbers and tomatoes keeps whiteflies away. When planted on a balcony, marigold also deters unwelcome flies with its aromatics.

Marigolds live in perfect harmony with other summer flowers

Marigolds live in perfect harmony with other summer flowers with blooms in the same color spectrum, such as dahlias, coneflowers and snapdragons

Varieties

Thanks to the large range of garden varieties, you are very much spoilt for choice. Marigold “Sperlis Feuerball” is the first pure red marigold, so is sure to catch the eye. Its color fades as the flower wilts. Growing 9.84 inches tall, its fiery flowers appear from June to October. “Safari Tangerine” is a variety with extra-large single flowers that can also tolerate extreme heat. It’s especially cute as edging along a flower bed. “Striped Marvel” is a striped Marigold that’s ideal for background planting in the flower bed. In contrast, decorative variety “Paprika” is reminiscent of a simple wildflower. The red-brown of its simple flowers are dazzling even from afar.

Light yellow “Vanilla” is an excellent cut flower that is also a vision when planted solo in pots. Signet Marigolds not only offer beautiful colors, but also delicious flavors: “Orange Gem” and “Lemon Gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia) taste of citrus peel, just like Tagetes minuta. Tagetes filifolia has an intense licorice flavor. Young leaves harvested from the “Hot Mexican” marigold before it flowers taste of anise and Woodruff, and are used to add a punch to herbal teas, soups, sauces and salads. The flavor is even more powerful if you use the yellow flowers that appear in May.

Propagating Marigolds

Marigolds are best propagated from seed. Gather your own seed from mature seed heads in fall to grow the following year. Caution: If you want to harvest the heads, you shouldn’t cut the last flower of the year: leave it to mature! Ensure that you only remove the straw-like seeds when they are fully dried. The seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place over winter. They can then be grown as described.

Marigolds protect vegetable plants

Marigolds clean the soil and keep slugs and snails away from vegetables

Diseases and Pests

Young marigolds often fall foul to slugs and snails. The solution is to regularly remove the pests or use slug pellets. Wet weather provides good conditions for fungal disease. In wet weather, the plants can succumb to gray mold and rot.

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