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How to Grow: Marigold
Tagetes species and hybrids
Full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Mid summer to fall in colors such as yellow, orange, white, burgundy, maroon and bicolors
Mature Height x Spread
6 inches to 2 feet x 6 inches to 2 feet
attracts beneficial, edible, drought tolerant, deer resistant
What would our annual and vegetable gardens be without marigolds? They are one of the most common and popular annual flowers to grow in any garden. There is a wide range of plant sizes and shapes of flowers, as well as colors ranging from white to maroon. This tough flower comes into its own in mid summer and blooms right to frost. The two most common types are the French or signet marigold with its small plants, and the taller African marigold. Both types have varieties with small or large flowers. Some flowers can be a large as 3 inches across and come as single or double blooms depending on the variety. They flower quickly from transplants or even when directly sown in the garden.
Where, When and How to Plant
Direct sow marigold seed in spring in a full to part sun location into compost amended soil after all danger of frost has passed or start seeds indoors under grow lights 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Direct seeded marigolds will bloom later than transplants. Transplant home grown or store bought seedlings in the soil spaced 6 inches to 2 feet apart depending on the variety. Thin directly sown plants to a similar spacing.
Keep plants well watered when young. Once established, they can be drought tolerant. Mulch around plants to maintain soil moisture and deter weeds. Fertilize every 3 weeks with an organic plant food.
Regional Advice and Care
Deadhead spent flowers to keep the plants blooming and cutback leggy plants to stimulate more blooms. Marigold flowers are edible and are a great garnish in salads. During hot, dry weather watch plants for spider mites infestations. Spray plants with insecticidal soap when you notice stippling on the leaves and insect webbing. Stake tall African marigolds if grown in a windy location.
Companion Planting and Design
Plant the diminutive French or signet marigolds in containers with cascading annuals, such as lobelia, and tall plants, such as salvia. Interplant marigolds with other annuals, around perennials, and in vegetable gardens to add color. The wide variety of flower colors makes them good companions with many other colored flowers. Tall African marigold makes great cut flowers. Some gardeners grow marigolds to ward off insects in the vegetable garden. However, only African marigolds have been scientifically proven to keep away nematodes only if the plants are tilled under into the soil.
‘Jubilee Series’ and ‘Inca Series’ grow 2 feet tall with double flowers. The ‘Sunburst Mix’ and ‘Zenith Series’ are crosses between the French and African marigolds producing large flowers on 14-inch tall plants that don’t need deadheading. ‘French Vanilla’ has creamy white flowers on 1 to 2 foot tall plants. The ‘Bonanza’ Series’ produces golden to red colored flowers on 12-inch tall plants. The ‘Gem Series’ produce lemon, red, and tangerine colored, dainty flowers that are good for salads.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.