Marigold Picture

Marvelous Marigolds

by Christine Hanson

Quick Facts of Tagetes

  • Annual
  • Easy care
  • Sun-loving
  • Colors: crème, yellow, orange, red
  • Time of Bloom: Late spring to frost
  • Drought tolerant
  • Height: 5-30" (depending on variety)
  • Spacing: 3-15"
  • Start seeds 4-6 weeks before last frost
  • Pinch tips to make bushier
  • Deadhead to prolong bloom
  • Does well in poor soils

Marigolds are a beautiful way to brighten any corner.

  • Gardens
  • Borders
  • Containers
  • Cut flowers (fresh or dried)


Starting from Seed

Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost free date or sew directly into garden after all danger of frost has past. Sew 1/4 inch deep. They will germinate quickly, in 4 to 14 days, and will be blooming in less than 2 months after seeding.


  1. Fill flat or other container with seed starting mix (You may have to add water to a purchased mix. Follow the directions on the container.)
  2. Poke small holes into the soil with your finger, and place a seed in each hole.
  3. Press the soil, in your flat down with the palm of your hand. This will cover the seeds, giving them seedling anchorage after it germinates.
  4. Label each flat of marigolds, especially if you have different varieties.
  5. Cover plants with plastic to hold in humidity until the seeds have germinated. Keep out of direct sunlight, so the container doesn't overheat and kill the plants. Open the cover each day to allow fresh air to circulate.
  6. Remove the cover after the seeds have germinated and place in a sunny window. Be certain that the air temperature around your seedlings does not dip below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Use a mist bottle to water the plants. Do not allow them to dry out.


Seeds can also be planted directly into the garden.


Transplanting into the Garden

Hardening off

Plants need to be hardened off to their new environment outdoors, before planted there permanently. A week before planting, set seedlings out on the porch or in a protected part of the yard for a few hours every day.


Pick a cloudy day to plant seedlings outside. If it's a sunny day, do it in the early morning or late afternoon. Check the label for plant spacing. Marigolds will bush out, so there is no need to crowd them. While still in the pots, place the flowers in the bed, to see how you'd like them arranged. Dig the holes for your plants and pour lukewarm water into them. Place the seedlings into the holes, patting soil over the crown of the plant. When you're finished water your plants with a watering can. It's usually a good idea to add a water-soluble fertilizer to your watering can.



Pinching and Deadheading

Pinching helps marigolds bush out, rather than sending only one shoot up. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off the top growing tip of the plant. Deadheading is removing the flowers that have died. This forces the plant to keep blooming, rather than focusing on seed production. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off the unattractive blooms.


Two common Marigolds.

African Marigold Picture
French Marigold Picture

Tagetes erecta - Aftrican Marigold

Tagetes patula - French Marigold

Click here to see more marigold pictures.



Hodgson, Larry. Annuals for Every Purpose. United States: Larry Hodgson Illustrations, 2002.

Loewer, Peter. Step-by-Step Annuals. Des Moines, IA: Better Homes and Goardens Books, 1994.


Contact the author: Christine Hanson