Marigolds are most commonly thought to be the little orange and yellow flowers everybody grows because everybody can grow them. Their tolerance for less-than-perfect soil conditions, their ability to thrive in all but the coldest and harshest of climates, and their naturally forgiving nature when it comes to care (or lack thereof) makes them a favorite of gardeners throughout the world. But there’s much more to these little beauties than meets the eye.
The name ‘marigold’ means Mary’s Gold, and comes from one of the oldest-known species of marigolds — the calendula (or pot marigold). Other species of marigolds include the common marigold, tree marigold, Mexican marigold, corn marigold and the French marigold.
All but the most hybridized varieties of marigolds are perennials. In the warmest regions the plants thrive year round, while in colder zones, they act as self-seeding annuals if you deadhead the blooms and drop them onto the ground.
Marigolds can be started indoors in early spring to be ready to transplant into the ground or larger pots when weather permits, or the seed can be sown directly into the soil after all danger of frost is past.
It’s usually not a question of whether or not to have marigolds. It’s more a question of what kind and how many to plant. Marigolds aren’t only attractive, they’re useful as well.
Did you know….
1. Marigolds are proven nectar sources for butterflies, making them a popular pick for butterfly gardens.
2. The pigments in their bold colors are approved in Europe for use in the coloring of many food items.
3. Marigolds are a natural repellent of nematodes and other garden pests. Planting marigolds in and around your tomato, eggplant, pepper and potato plants will result in healthier plants and produce.
4. The pungent smell of marigolds will also keep rabbits, deer and rodents from eating your plants.
5. Marigolds have medicinal purposes. Some species of marigolds are used antiseptically to treat athlete’s foot, bites and stings.
Another reason for the popularity of the marigold is its ability to bloom and bloom and bloom…. When all else is fading from your garden, marigolds will still be going strong. And what makes that even better, is that by using different sizes and colors of marigolds, your flower garden will look as if it’s flourishing even near the end of the season.
1. Common, French and pot marigolds can be grown in the ground or in pots. In the harshest of climates (hot or cold) they will require a bit of extra attention. The hottest of climates will necessitate closer attention to watering, while in climates experiencing harsh winter temperatures the pots will need to be placed in a cellar, basement or garage during the winter.
2. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a tropical climate, the tree marigold is an option for you. Sometimes called the Mexican Sunflower, the thick woody stem is tree-like and they grow up to eight feet tall.
3. Corn marigolds, which until recently were considered to be in the chrysanthemum family, resemble a daisy. Their blooms of bright yellow leaves tipped in white are anchored in the center by a large yellow disc. The corn marigold is taller than the more common marigolds. While not native to the United Sates, they grow so profusely in parts of Europe that they are considered an invasive weed.
Marigolds aren’t terribly fussy. As long as they get a fair amount of sunshine (the more the better) and the soil they’re in is on the dry side, they thrive and bloom continually until the first hard frost of autumn.
I grew marigolds last summer all throughout my garden, with fantastic results. Since I generally am not that good at growing flowers (unlike veges) from seed I used the cheap seeds from the dollar store and, it was amazing. The marigolds kept away the aphids, I had very little blight on my tomato plants, the amount of pollinators was phenomenal, absolutely amazing. Factor in the aesthetic value the pretty flowers offered it was well worth going radical and broadcasting the seeds everywhere in the garden. Deff gonna be going radical with the marigolds again this year! I love the article on marigolds & hope more people use them in their gardens also.
I can picture this 🙂
Last year I found white marigolds, I never knew that there was white marigolds. They were really nice, I save the seeds for this year !!!
Do you still have some seeds?
Bought white marigolds at lowes
I have been saving marigold seeds year after year. the seeds I have right is from the same stock more than 10 yrs ago. I live in Michigan .
Very nice, when do you usually take the seeds from marigold flower buds nefore the summer season ends? Appreciate your tips.
You can gather seems all through the growing season. When you dead head the dying flowers, put them somewhere to let them dry out. Then it’s easy to tear off the dead flowers and open up the base where the long, thin seeds for next year live. You will quickly have far more than you need for the next year. This is also an easy and fun lesson in gardening for children.
I remember doing this every year with my dad. We would gather all the seeds and we would plant them in the Spring and we would have hundreds of them for the following Summer.
M Guzik says
Deer do eat marigolds. When I first moved to “deer country” I read that marigolds were deer resistant. So I planted a small round garden outside my kitchen window only to later stand there doing dishes watching the deer eat the flowers. I laughed to myself and every time I read an article that mentions that deer don’t like marigolds.
Shari Shugar says
Deer will eat anything if their food supply is low.
Near our garden are pasture, bean field, corn field, and wild forested hills, but the deer tracks through our garden include all sizes. I believe the deer just enjoy browsing, as they have sampled tomatoes, as well as pumpkins and sunflowers.
They eat my marigolds too!
Word of caution though, be careful what you store your seeds that you are saving for the following year. Once, I put mine in a plastic sandwich baggie and put them in the garage for the next year. I found the baggie (which I had forgotten about) the following spring when we were moving into a new house. At first I thought it was a bag of Marijuana. My daughter was about to be in more trouble than she was going to know what to do with! Then before I said anything to her about it it, I got to looking at it closer and realized what it was. Talk about a huge relief.
I like to place my harvested seeds in a brown paper lunch bag. It’s porous and less susceptible to moisture and mold.
Same with rabbits – they devoured my marigolds!
shadrack moloi says
Thanks for such a valuable information
Hil Ward says
The petals of old fashioned pot marigolds are edible and look fabulous scattered over the top of a salad
I have been planting Marigods for a few years for insect & bug control. I do love the color they add to the garden.
Little Jo says
I love Mary Golds. They are very pretty too. I have been a gardener as long as I can remember.I have always loved to garden.Ever since I was a kid my Mother said I had a green thumb.
Love it !! green thumb.
Always put marigolds in my garden but this year red spider mites destroyed them and many plants around them. Guess it had to do with the dry hot spring and summer
Carol Ann says
I planted patio tomatoes in large pots with marigolds all around them. My tomatoes are flourishing and no problems with them. I do believe the marigolds deter the bad bugs and attract the pollinators.. I too save seed from season to season and am always happy with the results. Thanks for an informing article..
Deborah Brett says
I always sow calendula and french marigolds, brilliant companion plants. this year I found that they had self seeded all over the allotment, so I just transferred them to where I wanted them. they are so pretty. I dry the calendula petals and make calendula oil brilliant for skin conditions.
I have 2 tomato plants in my garden, both are about 4ft tall. Well for mothers day my daughters class grew marigolds in small pots to give all the mothers as gifts. A few days later i transplanted the flower to my garden right next to my tomatoes… They are only a few feet apart. I have not had one hornworm problem since. A few weeks prior i had found several small worms which had made their way to the tomato and my nearby cantalope vines. Her marigold did the trick! It is now almost 2ft tall and covered in blooms. Also pinching the dying blooms off really does help increase the flower output. And the pop off orange and gold looks beautiful in the garden. Best mothers day gift ever ?
My friend gave me some of her mothers ‘Old-Fashioned Marigolds’ seeds, which I started all outdoors. Torrential rains drowned them. Ultimately 2 little seedlings survived. I transplanted them about 2 feet apart then more than 4 feet apart. WOW ! Each plant was at least 4 feet in diameter. Magnificent gems. I am harvesting the seeds and am now a fan of the humble marigold:)!
I have been planting marigolds for many years now. From the petite to the large 5 inches across . However, I have been searching high and low for the marigold seed that got me started. The “Brownie Scout Marigold” was the seed my mom gave me to plant. Anyone see it around I’ve checked all places of seed exchanges etc.
Ron, unfortunately it looks like the Girl Scout branded seeds are no longer available, but from the research I’ve done they appear to have been the dwarf french double variety. Hopefully having that information will allow you to find a stockist in your area.
If you’re interested, this website has a little more information about the Girl Scout marigold seeds:
McKenzie Seeds in Manitoba has French Double Dwarf Marigold seed packs.
Abdullah hakeen Ali says
I plant marigold. each season. save the seeds. for next season. I have the same seeds from the same mother plant. 2001……….20016…… will plant the same in 2017….. I store the seeds in the fall in a styroform box place them in the garage till next season…… they are one the best.. I plant them…… garden…………yard………..pots…… I am a Gardener. Green thumb……. my grandmother. past it on to me. at age 5/6 she began to teach me how to grow my own food. (this is your little garden I will teach you how to take care of it.). peace be unto her)… I am 76ys. …….. Redford mi .
I too am in my 70s and learned gardening from my grandmother. It’s a lovely memory and a special talent to pass on to the children and grandchildren. I have always felt gardening was therapeutic and a much better place to be than attached to an Iphone and such. Wish I could garden all year long….
I’m 75 and gardening has been in my DNA since I was a child. I find the garden is just about as close to God as one can get. Marigolds are one of the first flowers I remember growing and the smell of those and mums brings me right back to my childhood. I too wish I could garden all year long. I feel peace and tranquility as soon as I enter . When I leave this beautiful earth, that is where they will find me.
Mohammed AL-Hamdany says
Marygold is not really considered as a Nematode Repellent crop … its a grave of Nematodes.. I called their roots as Lethal Attracted roots… the 2nd larvae entered the root … and die there >>>> The larvae never developed or molted there … therefore the best way to plant tomato in a heavy infested soil with root Knot Nematodes or root Lesion Nematodes is replacement method .. ie If you have infested soil with nematodes … grow Marigold for one month.. then transplant tomato or any vegetable seedlings in the same spot of marigold plant>>>>
My marigolds are devoured by slugs the last few years, even though I try to control the slugs, have to find a better determent as I love marigolds.
same here, my marigolds are devoured by slugs or something, even planted a second time. and the same thing happened, very frustrating!
Protect your tender plants from slugs with a ring of crushed eggshells! Works like magic.
Shari Shugar says
I planted seeds from my marigold from last year. I wasn’t sure how many would grow and now I have a dense line of hundreds of them. What should do? Or if I don’t do anything what will happen to them?
Carol Garrison says
I would thin them out, choosing the strongest looking plants. Plant them either in planters or directly in a protected area of the garden. Leave space between them depending on what type they are. Each plant will grow to it’s parent size so give them all space. If you do nothing, they will all grow together and the strongest will take over and kill the tinier ones. It’s always the survival of the fittest in nature…… Sounds like you will have a garden of lovely color this season. Have fun!
Can anyone please tell me when end of the seed to plant please? I love marigolds they are beautiful,bright and are so easy to grow! If someone could please give me a few pointers on how to plant the seeds would be so appreciated! Thank you!
April Kirby says
Yes can anyone please tell me which end of a marigold seed do you plant? I love marigolds there pretty bright and easy to grow but I don’t know which end of seed to plant or if it makes difference. If someone could help me please I would really appreciate it. Thank you!
Carol Garrison says
There is no end. Just lightly sprinkle the seed in rows and cover with about half inch of potting mix. Keep watered with a mister water bottle every morning in a sunny location. It won’t be long before you see little green shoots. When they get about two inches high, transplant about a foot apart in planters or directly in a protected area of your yard. I like mine in planters. Good luck.
I wish someone would have the answer to slugs eating the whole plant by morning, they don’t go for the slug bait only my Marigolds!
Put an aluminum pie pan of beer right by your plants. Slugs LOVE beer!
Are Calendulas Marigolds?
Andrew Calcott says
I have grown marigolds from seed this year all are normal except one which has grown about 3 feet tall and the flower stems have spread really wide can anyone explain please.
Yes! I live in upper east Tennessee and the deer sometimes eat mine. They devour my hosta so I put marigolds around and the deer ate them!