Marigold Flowers: How To Plant, Grow, and Care For Marigolds

growing and caring for marigold flowers

These sunny annuals might be native to Mexico but it has been cultivated around the world for many reasons. Well, aside from its bright hues that will make any location cheery, it is also easy to care for, plant, and grow.

On the plus side, its flowers also offer a lot of benefits from ornamental, botanical to medicinal. Here, we will cover everything about marigold flowers and why they are raved for. 

Best tips to care for marigold flowers

Marigolds facts

Marigolds facts

There is so much more that we have to know about marigolds and here are some facts about the flower that you should not miss. 

  • It is clustered in the Asteraceae family. This means that its famous cousins are sunflowers, daisies, and asters.
  • It is resistant to almost all critters that you do not want hanging out in the garden (insects, mosquitoes, deer, rabbits, etc.). 
  • In the Aztec culture, it is known as the flower of the rain. Blooming in the day will mean that it will rain in the afternoon. 
  • It contains lutein, a substance known as good for the eye, and has anti-aging properties. 
  • It also has anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Marigold flower meaning & symbolism

Generally, orange and yellow flowers like marigolds connote enthusiasm, encouragement, energy, joy, and happiness. But marigolds in themselves, have meanings and symbols of their own.

For one, it is culturally significant for Mexicans since marigolds are cultivated to make wreaths and flower bouquets for Dia Los Muertos, as such, symbolizing grief and mourning.

It is also significant medicinally and as ritual flowers in the Aztec, Buddhist, and Christian traditions. At present, it is the flower given stand for optimism and the will to succeed. 

Types of Marigolds

Mexican marigold (Tagetes erecta)

Mexican marigold (Tagetes erecta)

It is also known as African marigolds and is the tallest of all the marigold species, native to Mexico and Central America. They could grow tall to up to 4ft high and blooms large, bulky, double-flowers. These ones could thrive well in drought-like climate conditions. 

Signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)

Signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)

It is also called the Lemon Gem or American saffron. It is a bushy and compact annual, blooming from summer to early winter. It grows single, solitary flowers per stalk with beautiful lacy foliage that is truly attractive to look at. 

French marigold (Tagetes patula)

French marigold (Tagetes patula)

This type is smaller, more compact but bushier than African marigolds. They are eye-catching in their own right with flowers that are 6-inches wide. This type of marigolds has a unique growing habit as they thrive better in more moist and wetter environments. 

Southern Cone Marigold (Tagetes minuta)

Southern Cone Marigold (Tagetes minuta)

This one is grown as an herb in South America (Peru and Ecuador to be specific) also known as stinking roger or black mint. It is a tall marigold with small, bright yellow flowers. They are full-sun marigolds with a long growing time and long blooming season. 

American marigolds

American marigolds

It is also known as Mexican tarragon or sweet-scented marigolds. It is short, bushy, and comes with a woody base. It grows small yellow flowers cultivated for medicinal uses specifically to alleviate an upset stomach. It is also extracted for tarragon oil. 

Is marigold annual or perennial?

Marigolds are herbaceous annuals known for being easy to plant and comes with minimum care requirements.

Not only are they spendthrift annuals, but they also come with a wide range of benefits both botanical and medicinal. As an annual plant, it is loved for blooming from spring to summer. 

Marigold colors

Marigolds are also loved because they spruce up the garden with festive orange and brass colors with tinges of yellow and paler orange. Other color selections of marigold include yellow, red, and paler orange. 

Starting a Great Garden on a Budget

Growing Marigold flowers

Marigolds are a great option for planting a garden on a budget. Purchasing Marigolds from a local nursery will allow you to choose the colors that you wish to plant in your garden.

You will be purchasing actual plants, usually already in bloom. When planting them, loosen the dirt around the roots and plant the entire root ball in the ground. With proper care, these plants will grow, fill out and bloom all summer long.

Planting marigold

Planting marigolds

When to plant

Marigolds can be planted anytime in-between early spring to late summer. Taller varieties however are specifically planted during early spring as they cannot survive during extreme climate conditions.

The temperate climate of spring will allow taller marigold varieties to root, grow fast, and mature. 

Where to plant

These flowers love to get full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. A full-sun garden where it could get at least 6hours of direct light would be a good growing spot for marigolds.

During the sun’s peak in the afternoon, they should have enough shade. For taller varieties, an additional requirement would be a location where it is not exposed to strong winds and heavy rainfall. At best, putting stakes around taller varieties would be recommended. 

How to plant from seeds

Marigolds have one of the fastest germination rates in the flower world. After planting from seed, you would immediately see sprouts in a few days and you can expect them to bloom after eight weeks.

Begin sowing seeds as soon as the climate becomes temperate and the soil has warmed up a bit. Seeds sown must be an inch apart and must be watered frequently after planting. 

As soon as you see them sprout, you must transfer the seedlings to a new plant spacing. For smaller varieties, they have to be replanted at 8-10 inches apart while taller varieties should be at 10-12 inches apart.

Replanting them requires a loosened soil of at least 6inches deep. Note that the planting hole should be slightly bigger than the plant’s root ball.

After filling the hole with soil, add a 2-layer mulch to prevent insects, weeds, and for the soil to retain moisture. Water thoroughly for a week. 

How to Keep Marigolds Blooming All Summer Long

Marigolds will continue to flower all summer long and even into the fall if the weather remains nice. In order to allow the plants to fill out and continue to flower beautifully all summer, you must do what is termed “dead-heading”.

This is a process where you routinely clip the dead flowers off of the plants. This allows the plant to put more energy into producing new buds and continuing to grow the healthy flowers.

How to Make Marigolds Last Year after Year

Marigolds blooming

Although Marigolds are an annual flower that you plant in the spring and it dies in the fall, it takes a little effort and no money to continue the same batch of Marigolds year after year. Through the summer when you dead-head the Marigolds, save these dead flowers in a watertight container. These dead flowers contain the seeds for next year’s flower garden.

After the growing season is over for the year, save your Marigold seeds collected through the summer in a watertight container until spring comes. Once the threat of frost has passed, it is time to start your Marigold flower garden.

Plant the seeds you stored through the winter about an inch or so in the ground. Keep the ground moist and you will soon see seedlings sprout and you are on your way once more to a colorful flower garden.

Planting Marigolds is a great way to have a colorful flower garden for very little money. With a small financial investment the first year and some effort through the summer to save the seeds, you will have a perpetual Marigold flower garden year after year.

Growing marigold indoor tips

Growing marigolds indoors

It is a known fact that indoor or potted marigolds die for less than a year. Nonetheless, here are some indoor tips that might just add to their indoor longevity. 

  • Before the growing season, marigold seeds should be planted 4-6 weeks before the onset of late winter. Keep them in warm trays where they could thrive and grow. 
  • Potted marigolds should be positioned in an indoor location where it could get 6-10 hours of light a day. 
  • Indoor marigolds should be planted in pots using light soil. Let the soil dry out first before watering.
  • To keep the proper moisture needed by the plant, water them every day by the base. 
  • Never crowd marigolds in a pot and along with enough sun, the indoors should also have good air circulation. One marigold plant is fit for a 6-inch pot.  

Marigold care

Soil

While considered as adaptive to a wide range of soils, marigolds grow best in slightly fertile but well-draining soil. If you ever plant it in clay soil, make sure that it is well-draining.

It could tolerate soil pH levels in the range of slightly acidic, neutral, and alkaline. 

Fertilizer

Amendments or fertilizer can be added during transplanting to secure growth but it is entirely optional. A 5-10-5 can be used during transplanting.

In-ground planted marigolds do not necessarily need fertilizers too. As a matter of fact, adding fertilizer during the growth phase will make the foliage bushy but at the expense of the flowers.

Potted marigolds can benefit from water-diluted fertilizer but must only be applied occasionally. 

Water requirements

Marigold Watering

Excess moisture will make the flowers rot so make sure to never overwater. Marigolds require watering from the plant base and never overhead.

Watering should be done only when the soil has gone dry and more frequently during periods of high heat. As for potted marigolds, watering should be done daily since the pots dry out the moisture more quickly. 

Sun & Lighting

In general, marigolds love the sun. When grown outdoors, it must receive 6-8 hours of continuous, direct sunlight.

When grown indoors and in artificial light, it should have 8-10 hours of direct artificial light a day or in a place where it could get direct sunlight. 

Temperature

During germination, marigold seeds will thrive and grow in temperatures between 10-15 degrees Celsius. At the mature and blooming phase, marigolds should be grown in areas where the night temperature does not drop to 15 degrees Celsius. 

Repotting

The repotting season is basically during spring when the soil is moist and warm. As have been mentioned, young marigolds should be repotted in soils at 6ft deep with planting spaces of 8-10 inches for small varieties and 10-12 inches for taller varieties. 

Pruning

Marigold pruning

Deadheading marigolds before spring will not only make it more beautiful but it shall also encourage blooming until early summer. Doing this regularly before the blooming season also fosters bushier flowers come blooming time. 

Propagation

As it is grown from the seed, its propagation will also be by the seed. When the flowers fade, do not touch the plant for a while to save the seeds from the flowerhead.

When the flowers have gone fully dried, you have to remove the petals and shake the plant for the seeds. From here, repeat the process: sow, wait for the sprouts, replant. 

In the winter

Caring marigolds in winter

Overwintered marigolds should be placed in an area where it could still receive direct bright light and in a room where the temperature is at 10-15 degrees Celsius.

Allow the soil to dry out before watering although it grows dormant during this season. Fertilizer is not necessary but transfers outdoors for some natural sun as soon as spring arrives. 

How long do marigold seeds last

Marigold seeds when harvested and stored properly could last for up to three years. However, its most potent time frame is one year only. Beyond this, you decrease its capacity to germinate.

By the third year, it will only have a 20% chance to germinate so don’t keep them that long. 

Marigold diseases and problems

Common marigold diseases spring from over-moisture. As such, marigolds could be infested with powdery mildew and fungal spores.

It is also susceptible to leaf burns or leaf spots. When this happens, check the soil nutrients as it could be deficient or have excess in soil nutrients. Other than these, marigolds are generally disease hardy. 

How to harvest marigold flowers

Harvesting marigolds

Harvesting marigold flowers is easy peasy. You have to cut the flowers just above the base during the start of the blooming season. You have to be selective on which stems to cut though because too much cut stems will result in lesser blooms the next time.

Put it in vases and change the water every day. For culinary use, the hanging method is used after harvesting. This is intended for marigold tea and potpourri. 

How to store marigold seeds

If you are not planning to plant marigold seeds right away, you could store it for a year.

Marigold seeds last for more than a year or so as long as they are stored in an envelope and keeping it in an airtight bag.

You will have to store the bagged seeds in a refrigerator or in a room in between 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Uses of marigold

Marigold uses

When grown in the garden, marigolds can be beneficial for many reasons. One, it is a great pollinator. It specifically attracts bees, butterflies, and ladybugs.

Two, marigolds are natural repellents for unwanted insects like hornworms and whiteflies.

Three, rabbits and deer hate the scent of these flowers so you can protect the garden well.

Four, they suppress nematode invasion so they are used as garden companions to fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, pepper, and okra. 

Potted marigolds are equally beneficial. Aside from being natural mosquito repellant, marigolds are also cultivated to be processed later on for essential oils and ointments.

Marigolds are also used as ingredients in ointments thanks to its restorative properties treating lesions and varicose veins. 

Its flowers are also edible and are used in Mexico and Asia as ingredients for a salad. The best-flavored marigolds are gem marigolds, French marigolds, and Mexican mint marigolds.

It is also called the poor man’s saffron as it is used as a saffron substitute thanks to its yellow flowers. 

Marigold flowers are also dried either for tea and act as a home remedy for sore throat, muscle cramps, and even fever.

A less known fact is that marigold flowers are also used as chicken feed because they enhance the color of traditional feeds for its yellow egg yolk color. In the winter, marigolds are tossed to the chicken cage entirely. 

Conclusion

Marigolds are low-profile but beautiful flowers. With everything that we have covered, we finally understand

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