Featured image for Marigold Care – How to Plant, Grow and Help Them Thrive

Marigold Care – How to Plant, Grow and Help Them Thrive

By Patricia Telesco • Updated on 2024-02-07

When you see flowers on sale, it’s likely that marigolds are in the mix. The layers of petals and assorted colors of this plant make them a florist’s dream. Do you want a big display? There are marigolds that grow 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. With proper marigold care, you can make sure it grows up healthy and thriving.

Marigolds are spring, summer, and fall plants. Winter, however, is not a season they can survive with the frosts. An important aspect of marigold care is to bring it in before the cold hits, so you can enjoy the flowers for a longer time.

These flowers are part of the Aster family. Their native growing regions include South America, the Southwestern U.S., and tropical regions of America. Marigolds are classified as annual plants.

Key Takeaways

  • Gardeners appreciate marigolds because they’re fairly easy to grow.
  • These flowers grow quickly, which allows you to see the rewards of your efforts in no time.
  • In order for Marigolds to blossom all season, they require full sun.
  • Provide your marigolds with rich, well-drained soil for the best results.

Monitoring Marigold

The variety of hues among Marigolds is truly a feast for the eyes. There’s brass, copper, gold, red, white, and yellow. You can also find variegated varieties that are sure to please. If you have an open yard, bunnies don’t like the aroma of marigolds, so the flowers can protect some of the nearby vegetation in the garden. Deers don’t like it either.

One of the “stars” of the Marigold family is the Mexican Marigold. It features bright orange or yellow, dense flowers. This plant takes part in the Day of the Dead celebrations.

A Bit of Folklore

Growing or carrying marigolds brings good luck and success. The flower represents warm feelings and creativity. Many spiritual rituals around the world include marigolds as decorative plants. In Nepal, marigolds are a cultural symbol. You’ll see garlands of them in many homes. The Aztecs treasured marigolds for their believed medicinal and magical properties.

Outdoor Marigold Care

In order for your marigolds to thrive, there are certain points to focus on in their care. It’s vital that the flowers have soil enhanced with organic matter. It must also drain well or the plant becomes waterlogged. Try to keep weeds away from these plants (a little mulch helps).

Marigold Care Basics

Image credit: © zabavna

Fertilization isn’t a big deal with marigolds. They require little. In fact, too much fertilizer can harm the plant. Your best bet is a slow-release formula.

Dead-heading is another part of marigold care that supports continuous blooming. When the flowers die, pinch them off the stem. Leave behind a healthy set of leaves. This allows the marigold to give more energy to produce more flowers.

As you are tending your outdoor marigolds, take a moment to check for signs of insects or diseases. A regular inspection helps you catch problems before they become serious. Things like aphids and powdery mildew are common.

Marigolds as Companion Plants: You can plant marigolds adjacent to your vegetables and other garden pests. They’re known to deter pests like nematodes and aphids. Marigolds also attract beneficial insects like bees.

Outdoor Marigold Needs

While marigolds aren’t hard to grow, they do have some needs essential to their growth and blossoming. When you are watering your plants, do so with moderation. Think moist, not wet. Let them dry out a bit between watering.

Insects and diseases are part of any outdoor plants’ potential problems. There are a few precautions you can take. For example, give your plants room for air circulation. Overcrowding is one of the main issues in terms of both pests and diseases going from plant to plant. Some of these issues may require specific treatments, which you can find at your local nursery.

Finally, know your plant. The type of marigold you have has unique requirements and traits. You want to pick the right plant for your garden space and put it in the ground where it will thrive. A lot of people ignore those little tags in flower pots, but they give you a glimpse of what to expect and best care practices.

A Taste of Marigolds

Marigolds are among the edible culinary flowers. They have a flavor that has bright, peppery, and citrus notes. You can add them to salads (which makes a pretty presentation), soups, and desserts. Infuse them into oils and vinegar. In order to cook with marigolds, they must be organic if you can pick them from your own garden, better still! Note that most varieties of French Marigolds are not edible.

Shopping for Outdoor Marigolds

There are several types of marigolds from which to choose. French marigolds are popular, having a daisy-like look and strong aroma. African marigolds are tall, so you can use them as a backdrop or focal point. On the delicate side, there are signet marigolds with small single blooms. Signet marigolds are edible. Then, of course, there are hybrids. Here are just a few:

  • Bambino: As the name implies, this is a diminutive plant. It has open single flowers, making them attractive to pollinators. Bicolored yellow and orange 2” blossoms.
  • Bolero: A flower with dramatic ruffled blooms. The flowers are gold, edged in burgundy. Mature height 1 foot.
  • Brocade: French marigold flowers with an antique appeal. Their ruffled blossoms of dark red, orange, and gold grow to be about 2 inches.
  • Colossus Red Gold: In one word: stunning. This bears three-inch, deep scarlet petals gilded on the edges with gold. A 12-inch plant.
  • Court Jester: This is an heirloom marigold. The flowers are burgundy-red and yellow, arranged like a pinwheel. It’s a fantastic addition to rock gardens, growing no higher than 2 feet.
  • Cracker Jack: An heirloom African marigold. Yellow or orange showy flowers looking like puff balls. Huge 4-inch blooms atop a 2-3 foot tall plant.
  • Fiesta: This is a party in petals. Ruffled orange and red blooms dance on the winds. 2 inch blossoms on a 12 inch plant.
  • Golden Guardian: True to its name, this marigold is an expert in nematode control. The simple gold petals with similarly gold centers attract pollinators. 2 inch blossoms on 2 foot tall plants.
  • Harmony: A petite variety growing 8 inches tall. The flowers are red and orange and 2 inches in diameter. Put these along the front border of your garden.
  • Hawaii: Staggering 5 inch flowers! These orange double blooms have ruffles, making them look celebratory. The plant grows 3 feet tall.
  • Ildkongen: For a tall background marigold, this is ideal. It stands 4 feet tall. The name means “fire king” illustrated by the orange and red mottled flowers.
  • Irish Lace: fine foliage smelling of anise. A delicate marigold that grows to be about 10 inches tall.
  • Kilimanjaro White: An African marigold with creamy white flowers. The plant reaches 18 inches and the double blossoms are 2 ½ inches wide.
  • Lemon Gem: If flowers could glow, the lemon gem comes close. It grows to about 10 inches tall, bears a light lemon scent, and has lacy foliage.
  • Mexican Marigold (Spanish Tarragon): This plant tastes like licorice! Unlike many marigolds, the Mexican variety can be perennial if grown in USDA zones 8-10. Mature height: no more than 20-36 inches.
  • Starfire: A 12-inch marigold. The multicolor flowers are orange, gold, lemon, and maroon. This plant fares well in baskets. Each plant can produce up to 20 branches dotted with tiny blossoms.
  • Strawberry Blonde: You can’t help but see these in a garden, displaying bicolor rose, plum, pale pink, and dusty yellow blossoms. This mound grows about 10 inches tall.
  • Tangerine Gem: A 10-inch marigold with prolific orange blossoms. Similar to Lemon Gems, these have a citrus scent and attract beneficial insects like ladybugs.
  • Vanilla Cream: This marigold blooms early with 2-inch pale yellow flowers. You can expect it to grow to one foot tall.

Types of Marigold

Image credit: © Alfazet Chronicles

Nature’s Pest Repellant: Marigolds know how to multitask. They appeal to our eyes, while also repelling various pests. The scent of marigold is unpleasant to aphids and whiteflies. So plant these flowers adjacent to other plants who are highly susceptible to these insects. It’s a better option than pesticide any day.

Marigold Watering Techniques

Outdoor marigolds require proper watering. You want to strike a balance between giving them too much water and too little. You can test the top inch of the soil for moisture. If it’s dry, pull out the hose or watering bucket! Marigolds need about 1 inch of water weekly, so take this into consideration if you have rainfall of when the weather turns dry.

Water marigolds at the base of the plant. This helps deter fungal diseases. Let the plant become evenly moist. Slow watering is better than a huge blast all at once. You want the water to penetrate the roots. To keep moisture in, apply mulch around your plants.

Good for What Ails You

Talk about petal power! Marigold flowers have compounds with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It’s no wonder they show up in traditional remedies. You can soak the petals in warm water and apply it to itchy skin. Plus, healers often recommended marigold tea for digestive issues.

Potting and Repotting for Proper Marigold Care

If you’re planning on potting your marigolds for the garden, you need the right container from the get-go. Look for one with excellent drainage. You want a pot large enough for your plant’s roots, with room to grow.

A potting soil with organic matter works fine for marigolds. Before placing the roots into the soil, loosen them gently. Place the container in an area that receives 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

On average, your marigold will need a larger home once every year to two years. You follow the same method as potting. A crock about 1-2 inches larger than the first is a good size.

Sacred Flowers: In Mesoamerica, marigolds adorned idols, priests, and holy sites, particularly during special rituals and ceremonies.

Pruning and Maintenance

Marigolds benefit from grooming. It shapes your plants and controls their size. Keep any dead or fading flowers off your plant. Just give them a pinch. It encourages more flowers! At the same time, get rid of any dead stems or dying leaves. You can do this throughout the growing season. Pruning gives you the time to review your plant for any signs of critters or disease. Catching either early typically results in greater success in resolving the matter.

With maintenance, just keep some mulch around the base of your plants. This deters weeds that can reduce the growth of your plants.

Marigold Myth

In Greek stories, a young girl falls in love with the Sun God, Apollo. Unfortunately, his bright rays burned her. All that remained were marigold flowers. This myth lead to the folk belief that marigolds could heal the sadness of unrequited love.

Outdoor Marigold Blooming and Resting Periods

Get to know the rhythm of your garden. Marigold flowers start appearing late in spring, or just as summer begins. They remain in bloom until fall. As long as you deadhead during this period, you will have beautiful blossoms that never seem to fade.

After this phase, the Marigolds rest. The plants’ growth slows and the blossoming disappears. There is nothing wrong with your plant. It’s just taking a time out. Continue caring for your flowers normally.

A Little History: Marigolds originated in Mexico and Guatemala. In the 16th century, they traveled to Europe and Northern Africa. The British named the flowers African Marigold, while the French called them :”rose of the indies.” In Spain, people favored marigolds for decorating altars to the Virgin Mary, which is how they became called “Mary’s Gold.” In India, they became a flower of friendship. By the 1800’s you could find marigolds dotting many American Gardens.

Marigold Care: Blooming and Resting Periods

Image credit: © Tony Baggett

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Being outside means your marigolds get exposed to all manner of pests and diseases. If you know about them, you can take action toward healing and prevention.

Aphids love marigolds. They suck sap out of your plants, leaving them distorted. Because of the wounds, the marigolds become more susceptible to diseases. Slugs like leaves and flowers, leaving behind a telltale trail of slime.

Among diseases, Powdery Mildew is common. It looks like a fine white coating on your plant’s leaves. Fungicidal soap or sprays remediate the problem.

Marigolds in Christianity

In Christianity, marigolds represent veneration and praise. It also symbolizes prayerful living, strength, hope, and our innermost connection with the Divine.

Troubleshooting Common Marigold Problems

Gardeners report a few common problems among marigolds. Perhaps the most common is improper watering techniques. The roots of this plant won’t revive after completely drying out, and if left wet, are prone to root rot.

If you find your plants getting various diseases regularly, take a look at the spacing. Your marigolds need good air circulation so they don’t transfer problems from one to another.


Gardeners and herbalists treasure marigolds for their adaptability and compounds. The rest of us just adore their beauty. Marigolds lend a pop of color where your garden needs it most. Around the world, marigold ranks highly among popular flowers for the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marigold Care and Keeping

Do marigolds need full sun?

Marigolds are sun worshippers needing about 6 hours of light daily. The plants use the light for energy so they can produce flowers throughout the season. When you put marigolds in shady areas, they’ll become leggy, seeking after the light. These plants are weak and flower little.

How do you maintain marigolds?

Bright light and moderate watering are two keys to marigold maintenance. They need well-drained soil to remain healthy, particularly soil with rich organic matter. Remember to remove spent flowers to keep blossoms coming in all season.

How do you care for marigolds in pots?

The only difference between potted marigolds and those you plant in the soil directly is watering and feeding. Container plants usually need a little more water and a bit of slow-release fertilizer.

How long do fresh marigolds last?

Marigolds look great in vases or bouquets. Outside, blooms continue for 8-12 weeks. When you cut them, they last about a week.

Are marigolds hard to keep alive?

Marigolds are fairly easy plants. Once you get to know their rhythm for watering, you’ll find there’s little to fuss over. These are hardy flowers and a good option for beginners.

Final thoughts on Marigold

The “mari” in marigold seems apt. It’s merry! The colors are vibrant, and you can use them in so many spots in the landscape. I like potted marigolds because I can move them around, finding an arrangement that’s “just right.

Folow Us on Social