Tagetes–commonly called marigolds–bears yellow, orange, red, or mahogany flowers from summer to early fall. The marigold is a tender annual.
African marigolds and French marigolds are commonly grown in summer gardens. African marigolds grow 2 to 4 feet (61-122cm) tall. French marigolds grow just 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) tall.
Marigolds flowers can be simple and daisylike or full and camellia-like. Single and semi-double varieties will attract butterflies and other insects. The foliage is fine and ferny.
Marigolds can have a sharp odor; these can be used to repel pest insects in the garden. Some newer cultivars are odorless.
Get to Know Tagetes
- Plant type: Tender annual
- Growing Zones and range: All zones
- Hardiness: Tender; Thrives in heat, withstands cool weather above freezing
- Height and width: 6 to 48 inches (15-122cm) tall; 4 to 24 inches (10-61cm) wide, depending on the variety
- Foliage: Mid- to dark green almost fern-like leaves are usually opposite
- Flowers: Daisylike or camellia-like flowerheads 1 to 4 inches (2.5-10cm) across.
- Flower colors: Yellow, gold, orange, russet, deep red, cream
- Bloom time: Summer until frost
- Uses: Beds, borders, and containers
- Common name: African marigold, French marigold, Signet marigold
- Botanical name: Tagetes spp.
- Family: Asteraceae
- Origin: Dry slopes and valleys from New Mexico to Argentina; one species occurs in Africa
Where to Plant Tagetes
- Plant Tagetes in full sun in Zone 2-6; grow marigolds in sun or light shade in Zones 7-11
- Grow Tagetes in humus-rich to average soil that is well-drained.
- Tagetes prefer a soil pH of 6 to 8.
- Grow Tagetes marigolds in annual beds and borders.
- Tagetes can be used in foregrounds, bedding, edging, window, boxes, and other containers.
- Yellow-tinted Tagetes fit into any garden scheme.
When to Plant Tagetes
- Set Tagetes in the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed.
- Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last expected frost. Germination usually take five days.
- Sow seeds outdoors when they will grow a week after the last frost in spring or later.
- Set container grown plants in the garden after all danger of frost has passed after hardening them off in shade for a few days.
Planting and Spacing Tagetes
- Sow seeds in small pots or six-packs in moist potting soil; cover seeds with 1/8 inch of soil. Water and keep at 60° to 70°F (15.6°-21°C) until seeds germinate in about 5 days.
- Set seedlings in a bright spot or a few inches below fluorescent lights until seedling have four to six leaves.
- Sow seeds outdoors in smoothly prepared beds; cover seeds with 1/8 inch soil.
- Thin outdoors-grown plants when they are 4 inches (10cm) tall.
- Set container-grown plants in t he garden when all danger of frost is passed.
- Space Tagetes 4 inches to 18 inches (10-45cm) apart depending on the variety.
How to Water and Feed Tagetes
- Tagetes need moderate water; keep the soil evenly moist.
- Fertilize Tagetes occasionally. Boost blossoms by applying low nitrogen, high phosphorus and potassium fertilizer when plants are 5 to 6 inches (12.7-15cm) tall.
- Mulch around Tagetes to conserve soil moisture.
- Trim off spent blooms to ensure long-blooming.
- Blooms slow when temperatures reach 90°F/32°C.
- Marigolds are susceptible to botrytis, root rot, fusarium wilt, rust, leaf spot, slugs, and Japanese beetles.
Tagetes Pests and Diseases
- Tagetes is prone to gray mold, bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew, fungal leaf spot, damping off, and root rot.
- Leaf miners, spiders mites, and whiteflies can attack Tagetes, especially in the greenhouse.
- Sow seed in the garden in late spring, earlier if the soil is warm.
- Seeds are large and should be planted 1/4 inch deep.
- Seeds germinate in about 7 days at 75° to 80°F (24°-27°C).
Tagetes Varieties to Grow
- African marigold (Tagetes erecta) is also called Mexican marigold; it is not from Africa; it is from Central America; this marigold can grow to 2 to 4 feet (1.2m) tall; flowers are 4 inches (10cm) or more across. African marigolds are used for bedding and borders; camelia-shaped varieties are available. ‘Inca’ and ‘Perfection’ are cultivars widely available.
- Irish lace marigold (Tagetes filifolia) bear numerous small flowers above lacy foliage; the flowers are often considered less showy than the leaves.
- Tagetes lemmonii grows in arid, desert regions; it is covered in small golden flowers.
- French marigolds (Tagetes patula) is a low growing cultivar 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) tall; there are many vivid colors, some are banded or splotches with contrasting reds or gold; these are the most pest-resistant..
- Signet marigolds or Mexican marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia): this plant bears 1-inch (2.5cm), single or double flowers in a full range of colors; plants form mounds about 6 inches (15cm) tall; the foliage is feathery and threadlike.