Botanical Name: Tagetes Patula
Plant Type : Annual
Mature Size: 6 inches to 4-5 feet
Sun Exposure: full sun ideal, partial sun possible
Bloom Time: early spring until first frost
Planting Zones: 2-11 but only in warmer months
Marigolds... or Tagetes! That bright yellow sunny plant that screems summer! In this article we want to talk about the different types of marigolds and where to plant them for the best blooms.
We find it amazing that, although they were quite popular years ago, retail stores don't seem to carry as many varieties, nor the quanity they used to. In fact, even commercial properties aren't planting them in masses like they used to.
We have do idea why this is the case, because we think they're one awesome plant. OK, let's get into some more details about the types of marigolds and which ones you should plant.
Why Marigolds Are Great In Your Garden
If you want big, bright, beautiful flowers in your garden all year - or at least spring through fall - then marigolds are a good choice. They require very little care if planted in full sun and will bring joy in the way of flowers that are bright yellows, oranges and reds. In fact, there are many that are multi-colored as well. You'll often see yellow and orange together on the same flower.
Marigolds also attract butterflies, lady bugs, beas and other beneficial insects and some say they repel harmful pests, which is especially useful around vegetable gardens.
Their leaves are very different than many other flowering plants. They almost seem like fern frauns, with soft, narrow dainty type leaves.
Marigolds grow with one flower per stem. Therefore, planting several in a group is almost a necessity if you want multiple flowers blooming at the same time... and if planted in a large group, they will be positively radiant with color.
The most commonly planted are the shorter varieties but if you have the room in your garden, the taller ones will certainly make a statement.
Where To Plant Marigolds
Where to plant them will depend on the type of marigold you have and it's location. They look good in gardens, containers or hanging baskets. If planting in pots they would be the "thriller" plant amost all the others in the pot.
When planting, keep in mind that where you plant them depends on the ultimate size of the plant. For instance, the shorter varieties can look good just about anywhere - in gardens as a border or mass planting and in pots or hanging baskets.
On the other hand, the taller varieties are best suited for mass plantings in gardens. Unless you have very large pots, the taller varieties would not look good in most containers as they are just too tall and will over-power other plants in the containers.
Keep in mind these are sun plants. They like full sun - 8+ hours per day. Although they will survive and bloom in partial shade (we've planted them for ourselves in partial shade), they definitely won't perform to their potential.
When Do Marigolds Bloom
The blooming time of marigold flowers is one of their best features, since they will bloom continuously from early spring until the first frost. This means they are an annual in most parts of the country.
Although they need no care to bloom repeatedly, pinching off the spent blooms will mean they will produce new flowers even quicker, so if you have the desire and time, we say pinch them regularly for the very best color show. However, they will still bloom without doing this. After all, they bloom in nature, with no one around to remove the dead blooms.
Types Of Marigolds
As mentioned above, there are 3 types of marigolds you should be aware of when shopping for them. Although there are others varieties, they are not as numerous in this family of plants as others. Plus, these 3 are the most stocked and the most planted here in the U.S. - and possibly elsewhere too.
Each type comes in several different colors but even more important is their size. which ranges from 6 inches to 4-5 feet. This means both color and size should be considered when shopping, since your planting location affects the decision.
French Marigolds (Tagetes Patula):
This type of marigold is the smaller, daintier variety we all know and love so well here in the U.S. This is the variety that's planted the most and the most widely available.
Although you would think with a name like that, they would have come orginially from France. This is actually not the case at all. Tagetes patula actually are native to Central and South America.
Of course within this family is an entire aray of varieties and color choices, from yellows to oranges, whites and even multi-colored varieties.
In fact, for us, the orange reminds us of orange chrisathemums that are planted in the fall. In fact, some of our clients don't like orange flowers in the summer because they look like fall.
They are very different plants however. Just looking at the closely will be obvious.
African Marigolds (Tagetes Erecta):
This is one of the tall marigold varieties and the largest of the three. Indeed, they can grow quite tall, some report 5 feet, although we've never experienced this. Three feet is more common. Despite their name though, they are not from Africa. Just like the others they are native to the americas.
In addition to their height, their flowers are also very big, round pom-pom like blooms that come in a variety of yellows, oranges, and white. The flowers can actually be 4-5 inches in diameter - quite large for an annual flower. The African variety however, does not produce multi-colored flowers as other varieties do - so solid colors are the rule here.
Because they are so tall, they might require staking to prevent them from falling over - especially after heavy rains. In addition, they want to spread out and take over other plants, so plant in an appropriate location that will give them room to grow. This does not mean that they spread, via rhizomes roots. This is a seed plant that will only spread via seeds so they are easy to keep under control, if you so desire.
Signet Marigolds, (Tagetes Tenuifolia):
This is the smallest of the marigolds, which is also considered a dwarf variety. Besides that difference the flowers are also different.
The flowers in the signet variety are smaller and flat, similar to daisies. In addition, the foliage is even more dainty and fluffy and will fill out an area in which it is planted.
Signet marigolds look good in hanging baskets as they will droop down over the edge and their foliage will provide a different texture to the basket. In addition, you can use them as border plants in a garden.
Marigolds For Medicinal Purposes
First and foremoset, marigold pedals are edible. Did you know that?
Secondly, they are known worldwide for their healing properties, including as an antiseptic, an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and more. Herbal healers have been using them for a very long time.
We are not medical professionals and in no way are we promoting using marigolds for any health issues. We are just reporting the facts here as to what others have used them for in the past.
For more information, you can read this article here: https://www.offthegridnews.com/alternative-health/medicinal-uses-of-marigolds/
How To Plant Marigolds
If you want marigolds you'll have a choice. You can either purchase plants from your local retailer and stick them in the ground, or purchase the seeds and plant them from seed. Either way is a great option and is super easy.
Planting Nursery Grown Marigolds:
If you purchase potted plants, simply dig a hole, add some amendments and stick them in the ground with the top of the root ball even with the ground or just slightly under the surface.
Keep in mind that you'll find marigolds as single plants in pots or several plants in the same larger pot. If you purchase a pot with multiple plants, you'll have the option of splitting the plants apart and planting each separately or planting the entire pot in one spot. The former is the better option because planting each plant separately gives them room to grow. This goes for any annuals and not just marigolds.
Be sure to water in immediately after planting, even if rain is expected (You know how reliable forcasts are. Don't depend on rain to water your plants).
How To Plant Marigold Seeds:
Sow the marigold seeds in fertile soil indoors before the outdoor growing season. Just stick the seeds under the soil in small pots or egg cartons or any other small container, place neer a window and water regularly. Then, when the last frost has passed, you can transplant them into your garden.
Even better and to skip the transplanting, you can sow the seeds directly in the garden. Just wait until after the last frost. Dig a trench 3-4 inches deep where you want the flowers to grow. If you have fertile soil, a trowel will be fine for this step. If you have hard ground and can't dig a trench with a trowel, you'd better an amendments to the soil. Finally, spread the seeds in the trench and cover them will soil.
Water regularly if it doesn't rain. It's important to keep the soil moist until they have grown and put roots down - usually about 3-4 weeks.
Conclusions - The Best Types Of Marigolds For You
Well, as we've mentioned, marigolds in general are a great plant for just about anywhere, as long as they are planted in full sun. They will still grow in partial shade but that is not ideal.
So, the bottom line is it depends on your garden space and your own needs.
Do you have a large area that you want to be a mass of flowers and you don't mind planting every year? Than marigolds could be the choice - either the French or African variety would work.
Do you want them in the front of a garden, as a border, or in pots or hanging baskets? Then the smaller French or Signet varieties would be better. You would definitely not want to plant the African variety in the front of any garden, or in any small pots. Remember, shorter plants in front, larger in the back.
When shopping for plants many consumers just know "marigolds" and when they see them on store shelves, will just pick them up without knowing which variety they are getting. This would be a mistake.
The next time you're shopping for marigolds, be sure to look at the plant tag to find out the mature size and the variety so you don't end up with the wrong variety for the wrong use.
For more information, you can read this pdf: https://thegrownetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/hgic1168.pdf
To find our more about other annuals you can plant in your gardens, read this article.
Our plant guide also give much more information and would be a good place to start.