Growing Marigolds

Category Flowers
Not only are they a beautiful splash of color in your garden, marigolds are noted for their use to discourage certain garden pests. This is a page about growing marigolds.


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Botanical Name:
Life Cycle:
Planting Time:
6" to 36"
full sun
average, well-drained soil
Bloom Time:
year-round depending on variety and zone
yellow, gold, orange, maroon and crimson; solid or bi-colored, single or double flowers
light to dark green
seeds, self-sowing
Suggested Use:
beds, borders, mass plantings, edging, containers, planters, paths and walkways
Growing Hints:
Start with inexpensive nursery transplants or seeds sown directly into the ground in the spring. You can also start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Pinch off spent blooms for continuous flowering all summer long.
Interesting Facts:
Marigolds possess natural compounds useful for repelling nematodes in the garden, especially African varieties. Several varieties are also widely used for their culinary and herbal properties (mostly for tea) in many Latin American countries.
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Some garden experts feel that we rely too much on marigolds to fill in our summer beds and borders. I disagree. If anything, these summer staples are often under appreciated. Marigolds couldn't be any easier to grow, and their cheerful flowers offer a summer-long burst of color anywhere you plant them.


Plants At-A-Glance

Origins: Mexico, Central and South America.
Life cycle: Half-hardy annual.
Site: Full sun to partial shade (better in sun).
Soil: Average, well-drained soil.
Height: Dwarf, 6 to 12 inches; large, 18 to 36 inches tall.
Foliage: Dark green leaves are thin and lacy; pungent when crushed.
Flowers: Yellow, maroon, orange, creamy white, or bi-colored; flowering from June-October.
Watering: Plants are drought tolerant, but perform better with regular watering.
Propagation: Sow seed indoors in mid-spring or outdoors after danger of frost has passed.
Garden uses: Container planting, cut-flower garden edging, mass planting, mixed borders, rock garden.

Four Common Varieties

African marigolds (T. erecta): This is the largest variety, growing 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall with tight double pompom blooms (white, gold, or orange) that are 4 to 5 inches wide. Compact cultivars stay under 18 inches. These are the strongest smelling of all marigolds, but the odor is only emitted if you crush the leaves or stick your nose in the flower.


French marigolds (T. patula): Mid-size plants grow 6 to 18 inches tall and have 1 to 2 inch wide more open flowers (single, semi-double, or double). The flowers are often bi-colored.

Triploid marigolds (T. erecta x patula): These hybrids are a cross between French and African marigolds and grow to a height of 12 inches tall. Because they are sterile, none of their energy goes into seed production which results in vigorous 2 to 3 inch wide flowers. Triploids will keep blooming even in hot weather.

Signet marigolds (T. tenuifolia): Plants form mounds of flowers, 9 to 12 inches tall, with lacy foliage and masses of 3/4 to 1 inch ray-like flowers. The blooms are edible.

Using Marigolds in the Garden

Marigolds offer months of easy-care color and combine well with other annuals and perennials in the flower garden. Compact signet marigolds and the mid-sized French types are well-suited to edgings, walkways, and mixed containers. The taller African marigolds are best for back borders and cutting gardens.


Marigolds also make good neighbors in the vegetable garden. Many long-time gardeners claim the roots of marigolds discourage nematodes when planted near tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, and roses. Their flower petals are rumored to repel the Mexican bean beetle when planted around bean plants. While there is no concrete scientific evidence to back up these claims, marigolds are still worthy of some planting space. They attract hover flies, which attack aphids, and their bright and cheerful appearance is sure to make any garden a more pleasant place.

Growing Tips

  • Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before you want to set plants in the garden. Marigolds grow quickly, so don't start them any sooner or the seedlings may become leggy.
  • To sow seeds directly outdoors, wait until the soil has warmed to between 65-70 degrees F. Sow in shallow trenches or scatter them over a broad area and cover with 1/2 inch of soil. Keep the seeds moist until they germinate (7 to 14 days).
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  • If you don't want to start your own plants from seed, packs of inexpensive transplants are readily available at garden centers and discount stores in the spring. Just be sure to wash your hands after transplanting them. Marigolds contain pungent oils that can cause skin irritations in some people.
  • Pinch plants back when blooms first start to appear. This will encourage branching and more flower buds. Deadheading spent blooms will keep flower production going well into fall.
  • Marigolds like warm weather, but they sometimes take a break from flowering during the hottest part of the summer. Don't worry - they'll start flowering again when cooler weather arrives. Once plants are blooming again, just deadhead spent flowers to keep new buds coming.
  • Due to their height, African marigold stems have a tendency to snap off under the weight of their huge flowers. One way to help prevent this is to strip the leaves from the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stem and plant them more deeply than in their original cell packs. The lower parts of the stem can then root and provide extra support.
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  • Marigold foliage rots quickly in water. When cutting flowers for an arrangement, be sure to remove all of the leaves from the stems that will fall below the water line.
  • Marigolds are generally resistant to pests and disease. However, leaf spot, gray mold, and powdery mildew may become a problem under humid conditions.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.


I CANNOT grow marigolds. I plant them and go out the next morning, the little leaves are stripped off the stems, and the marigold bud is all that is left on the stem - no leaves. What is doing this?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Peggy from Springboro, OH


Hi Peggy,

It sounds to me like slugs or snails have an appetite for your marigolds. They attack at night, usually eating the lower leaves first. The next day, you wake up to holey flowers and ragged leaves, or worse, nothing but a row of stems and a silvery-gray trail of slime on the ground where they have glided up to your plants.

The good news is that there are several easy and economical ways to effectively control the damage caused by slugs and snails.

Handpicking: This isn't the most appealing method, but it works. To spot them, grab a flashlight and head out to your marigold patch for a snail safari about an hour after sunset.

Setting traps: Snails and slugs love cool, moist places-especially to lay their eggs-so use this information to your advantage. Flip over some old flowerpots on the ground around the garden. Leave one side propped up just slightly to act as an entrance. Half an intact grapefruit or orange rind (minus the fruit) will work well, too. Check these traps daily and discard any snails and slugs you find hiding there.

Snails and slugs like beer. I've used this method myself after snails and slugs discovered some of my hostas, and I can verify that it works. Place a shallow container like a saucer or even a cut down yogurt container into the ground so that the top is at soil level. Fill the container with about an inch of stale beer (there's no need to waste the good stuff). Slugs and snails will stop by for a cold one, crawl into the container and die a happy death. Check traps daily and refill as needed.

Constructing Barriers: Slugs and snails avoid crawling over sharp surfaces. Create a physical barrier next to the base of your plants with crushed eggshells, dichotomous earth, wood ash, or coarse grade saw dust.

Snails and slugs will also avoid crawling over copper because it gives them a slight electric shock. Construct barriers from copper pipes or strips available at local hardware stores.

Cleaning up debris: Snails and slugs love to take refuge under garden debris from the hot afternoon sun. Clean up leaves, old boards, rocks, and old pots to reduce daytime hiding places, and avoid using mulch more than 3 inches deep.

Watering during the day: Because snails and slugs love a moist, humid environment, water your plants in the morning to allow time for leaves and stems to dry before nightfall.

Good luck!



By Karen (Guest Post)
February 28, 20080 found this helpful

Slugs! Slugs are eating your marigolds at night. It is a very well-known problem. I remember when I was growing up, my mother used to make little moats/trenches around her marigold beds. Then she filled the trenches with beer. This is a very common solution for the slug problem, even though it sounds crazy. I found an explanation for you that might explain it better than I can. Go to:
Good Luck!

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By anonymous (Guest Post)
February 29, 20080 found this helpful

The other possibility is pill bugs and/or sow bugs since I have caught them happily eating my marigolds.

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March 5, 20080 found this helpful

If it is slugs, I have also read on this web site that crushed egg shells will stop them.

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By Ashley (Guest Post)
March 6, 20080 found this helpful

This is slugs, snails or cut worms. Sow or pill bugs ar decomposers - they only eat dead material. Put a strip of copper wire to keep slugs/snails out - but this can be expensive. There are good (and fairly non toxic products like Sluggo that can help). For Cut worms, try putting a little paper "collar" around your seedlings. Time consuming, but it works. Cut worms are an inch long grub (larva) of a large moth that lays eggs into the ground.

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By nancycorinne (Guest Post)
March 7, 20080 found this helpful

You could put little paper cups on top of your seedlings at night. I have actually used the clear plastic cups as miniature green houses for growing from seed.

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By JBABY7162000 (Guest Post)
March 7, 20080 found this helpful


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Answer this Question...

What are these mushrooms on the base of my marigold? They grow fast and seem to explode onto the plant. Are they bad?


May 4, 20190 found this helpful

These look like the mushrooms that spring up when too mush moisture is in the soil.

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May 22, 20190 found this helpful

Which type of mushrooms would that be?

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I put out a ton of seed this year which included marigolds. I now have the tallest and healthiest marigolds I have ever seen, but there are no flowers. None at all. I have a least 100 seedlings, healthy and all, and no flowers.
what is happening?

By mindy


August 15, 20100 found this helpful

No gardening experience whatsoever here :-)
....but you might check out the answers here:

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August 18, 20100 found this helpful

No Blooms or Faded Blooms Due to Temperature
Lack of Blooms Due to Excessive Heat
High summer heat may slow, or even stop, blooming on marigolds. Once temperatures moderate, affected plants will begin to produce blossoms again. Triploid hybrids are somewhat resistant to heat problems. Two to three inches of organic mulch lowers the soil temperature and delays the effects of the heat of summer.

For more possible reasons go to:

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May 23, 2014

I am a first time gardner so you can imagine I do not have much skill or experience in this field and still I went ahead and purchased marigold seeds. They sprouted in 3 days which I was very excited about. My seedlings are about two inches tall and have developed their first set of true leaves. I noticed that the seedling stem is somewhat brown around soil, but but it's green at the top. Over the last 2-3 days, some of the leaves have starting to curl up and it's worrying me. I want to raise these babies successfully. Pls help me!

By NoviceGardner

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June 3, 2012

My marigold plants start turning brown after a couple of weeks then just continue to turn brown till they are dead.

By Linda

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

Picture of Marigolds in front of the creek that runs through our property. Marigolds are one of the few flowers that the deer won't eat up! We have to put fences around most things we are trying to grow. Love the country in the spring and summer.

By dorothy wedenoja

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These are zinnias and marigolds! I dislike the smell of marigolds, but I love the way they are sooo bright!

By Robyn from Tennessee

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