Marigolds are brilliant annual bedding plants that add color to any garden. There are several different types, which vary in the size of their flowers, and they come in a range of colours, including yellow, orange, red, mahogony, bicolors and even white. They have a distinctive scent, which many gardeners use to deter whitefly from their other plants by growing marigolds among them.
How to grow marigolds
Marigolds need a sunny position, as they flower poorly in shade.
They need a well-drained soil that holds moisture during their summer flowering period. Make sure to dig lots of organic matter into soils that dry out quickly in summer.
There are three main types – French marigolds (Tagetes patula), the larger African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) plus triploids – crosses between French and African marigolds – and the single flowered signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia) with simple, daisy-like flowers.
Sow seeds in March/April in seed trays or plug trays filled with seed sowing compost at a temperature of 21-24C (70-75F). Lightly cover the seed with more compost and keep moist.
When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them individually into cell trays or small pots and grow on in cooler conditions of around 10C (50F).
Plant outside in late May or early June when the last frosts are over, after hardening off – gradually acclimatising them to outdoor conditions for 10-14 days.
Suggested planting locations and garden types
Flower borders and beds, patios, containers, cut flowers, city & courtyard gardens, cottage & informal gardens, wildlife gardens.
How to care for marigolds
Keep the soil moist, especially during prolonged dry periods, giving plants a thorough water once a week. Plants in containers will probably need watering every day or every other day during summer.
To ensure reliable, long flowering they will need plenty of food. Feeding regularly throughout summer with a high potash liquid feed when you water will help promote continuous flowering well into autumn.
Deadhead plants regularly to keep them flowering continuously.
Large-flowered marigolds may produce 'mushy' flowers in damp, wet summers. Remove any damaged flowers promptly to keep the display looking good.