French Marigold Facts: Learn How To Plant French Marigolds

French Marigold Facts: Learn How To Plant French Marigolds

By: Our site

By: Donna Evans

Marigolds have been a garden staple for decades. If you need a shorter variety, French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are not as upright as the African types (Tagetes erecta) and are very aromatic. They will brighten up any garden with their bright yellow, orange and red shades. Read on to learn more about the planting and care of French marigolds.

How to Plant French Marigolds

French marigolds can be easily grown from seed or purchased as bedding plants. As with most bedding plants, there are a few factors to take into consideration when you are thinking of how to plant French marigolds.

These plants require full sun and well-drained soil. They also thrive in pots, and a pot of marigolds here and there will add a splash of color to your landscape.

These marigolds should be planted deeper than their bedding container. They should also be planted about 6 to 9 inches (16 to 23 cm.) apart. After planting, water thoroughly.

Planting French Marigold Seeds

This is a great plant to start from seed. Planting French marigold seeds can be done by starting them in the house before 4 to 6 weeks before winter has passed or by direct seeding once all danger of frost has passed.

If you are planting French marigold seeds indoors, they need a warm area. Seeds need a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees F. (21-23 C.) to germinate. Once the seeds are planted, it takes 7 to 14 days for the plant to pop up.

French Marigold Facts and Care

Looking for facts about French marigolds? These plants are small, bushy annuals with flowers up to two inches across. They come in a myriad of colors, from yellow to orange to mahogany red. Heights range from 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 cm.). These delightful flowers will bloom from early spring to frost.

While growing French marigolds is easy enough, the care of French marigolds is even simpler. Once established, these flowers need little care other than watering when it’s quite warm or dry – though container grown plants require more watering. Deadheading the spent blooms will also keep the plants tidier and encourage more flowering.

French marigolds have very few pest or disease problems. In addition, these plants are deer resistant, will not take over your garden and make wonderful cut flowers.

This article was last updated on

Requirements for Planting a French Marigold

Related Articles

French marigolds (Tagetes patula) only grows to about 12 inches tall. They blooms continuously from spring, throughout summer and until the first heavy frost. This annual is originally from Central America and Mexico and comes in many varieties in colors from yellow and gold to orange and red. Flowers may be a single color or bi-colored in small single blooms to larger semi-double or double blooms. Cultivars include “Gypsy Sunshine,” which has frilly yellow blooms and “Honeycomb” with frilly red blooms edged in gold. French marigolds need little care after planting them and are drought-tolerant.

Growing and planting Marigolds: African and French Marigolds

Useful and Easily Grown Flowers for Garden and Greenhouse

Tagetes (Tage’tes) are annuals of great decorative value during the summer and autumn months. They are natives of Mexico and South America and belong to the Daisy family, Compositae. The name is said to have been derived from a mythological deity, Tages. These Marigolds are quite distinct from the Pot Marigold or Calendula. See Calendula

The two chief types of Tagetes are the African Marigold, Tagetes erecta, and the French Marigold, Tagetes patula. The former reaches a height of 2-4 ft. and bears large, single or double flowers of orange or yellow coloring the latter grows from 9 in. to 2 ft. high and the flowers are yellow, or yellow marked with reddish-brown. In recent years hybrids between the African and French varieties have been developed. In addition, two other species of Tagetes are grown in gardens, T. lucida, the Sweet-scented Marigold, and T. tenuifolia (signata).

The African Marigolds are represented by numerous handsome double varieties which bear large, rounded flowers in orange and various shades of yellow, on strong stems. They are extremely useful in garden beds and borders during the summer months. Much effort has been spent in attempting to develop a white-flowered variety and while not yet successful some modern varieties have pale creamy yellow flowers.

In height of plants and form of flowers their is considerable variation and groups of varieties are designated in seedsmens’ catalogs as Carnation Flowered and Chrysanthemum Flowered. There are many other varieties with flowers in a great number of distinct shapes and forms, and some, even, with odorless foliage. If the plants are well grown they will last in bloom until cut down by frost, and provide brilliant masses of color in the garden in autumn. They are useful as cut flowers.

When to Sow Seeds. The African Marigolds may be raised from seeds sown about 6 weeks before the plants are to be planted outdoors, in a greenhouse in which a temperature of 50-55 degrees is maintained. The seeds are sown in pots or flats filled with sifted sandy soil they are lightly covered with similar soil and the containers are covered with glass and shaded from sunshine. If kept moist, the seeds will germinate in a few days.

When the seedlings are 1-2 in. high, they should be transplanted to flats, 3-4 in. deep, filled with a sandy, loamy compost they are placed 3 in. apart. They should remain in the flats until it is time to plant them out of doors after danger of frost has passed and the weather is warm and settled. For two or three weeks after transplanting to flats the seedlings should be kept in the greenhouse to assist them to become established quickly. Subsequently, they are grown in a cold frame and, as the time for planting draws near, they are hardened off by ventilating the frame more freely, and finally are fully exposed to the air.

It is also quite practicable to grow African Marigolds by sowing the seeds in the locations where the plants are to remain, but the plants obtained by this method will not bloom quite so early as those raised under glass. The seeds are scattered thinly in a well-prepared seedbed outdoors as soon as danger from frost has passed, and the seedlings are thinned out until they are not less than 10 in. apart.

A location fully exposed to the sunshine must be chosen for the African Marigolds they are not a success in shady places. It is a mistake to set them in very rich soil, or they will make rank, luxuriant growth at the expense of flower production. They should be planted 12-15 in. apart.

The French Marigolds. The varieties of these vary in height from 6-24 inches. The taller ones are useful for grouping towards the front of flower borders and for the production of cut flowers the very dwarf ones are commonly used for edging flower beds. There are both double-flowered and single-flowered varieties.

Among the dwarfer varieties Naughty Marietta is popular. It has rich golden-yellow flowers attractively marked with brownish-red. The single flowers of Red Head have a crested center of yellow and maroon and surrounding petals of mahogany, bronze and gold. Sunny has single, bright yellow flowers marked with cerise at the bases of the petals. Ruffled Red has mahogany-red flowers edged with yellow. All these are single-flowered varieties. Of the dwarf double French Marigolds, some of the best are Spry, maroon with bright golden centers Tangerine, bright tangerine-orange Lemon Drop, clear lemon-yellow and Yellow Pygmy, with tiny, light yellow chrysanthemum-like flowers. There are single forms of the tall French Marigolds, but these are not so popular as the dwarf varieties.

French Marigolds require the same general cultural care as that detailed for African Marigolds. They may be started in a greenhouse or raised from seeds sown directly outdoors. If sown directly outdoors the seedlings germinate quickly, provided they are kept moist. They must be thinned out in good time to give them every chance to develop sturdily.

It is a mistake to grow these plants in too rich a soil, for they will make vigorous growth but will not bloom very freely. Neither is it wise to plant them anywhere except in full sunshine, for in shade or partial shade they become very leafy, and their blossoming is disappointing.

African-French Hybrid Marigolds. A race of hybrids between the African and French Marigolds, raised in America in recent years, are named Burpee’s Red and Gold Hybrids. As yet the strain is not fixed and the plants vary in the color of the flowers they produce. Some are solid red, some solid yellow, others various combinations of red and golden-yellow. Flower colors vary on the same plants at different periods during the season. The flowers are double, 2-3 in. in diameter the plants are bushy and grow about 18 in. tall.

These African-French Hybrid Marigolds require the same culture as their parent types. They bloom throughout the summer and fall and are good cut flowers. Because the strain is not fixed a few true African Marigolds usually appear among the seedlings. Even while they are very small it is easy to segregate these from the hybrids because the African type has green stems whereas those of the hybrids are red. The African Marigolds normally grow taller than the hybrids and should be planted separately.

Other Kind of Tagetes. A Tagetes of very distinct appearance and of great charm and usefulness is T. tenuifolia (signata) pumila. In recent years this has been listed under the name of Dwarf Signet Marigold. It is a native of Mexico and forms a broad, bushy plant 1 ft. or less tall. It has finely divided foliage and bears a multitude of single, golden-orange flowers about 1 in. in diameter, each with but few ray florets.

Tagetes tenuifolia variety pumila requires the same cultural care as the dwarf French Marigolds and, like them, is a splendid subject for planting in groups at the fronts of borders, for bedding and for setting out as edgings to flower beds.

The Sweet-scented Marigold, Tagetes lucida, is an attractive species from Mexico that does not appear to be very much cultivated. It grows about 1 ft. tall, has fragrant foliage and carries its golden or orange-yellow flowers in dense terminal clusters. It requires the same cultural care as the other kinds.

In Greenhouses. All kinds of Tagetes are useful plants for growing in greenhouses for winter and spring display. They are elegant pot plants and are also useful as cut flowers. Some seedsmen offer special winter-flowering varieties which bloom freely even when days are short and light less intense than in the summer.

One of the best of these is called Lieb’s Winter Flowering.

For winter bloom, the seeds should be sown in August or September for spring bloom, sow them in January. The seedlings should be transplanted to flats, or individually to small pots, and later potted in larger receptacles as needed. Pots measuring 5-7 in. in diameter are satisfactory sizes in which to let the plants flower. Good results may be had by growing either one or three plants in each pot.

The soil for Tagetes grown in greenhouses should not be overrich but it should be well drained. When the plants have filled their final pots with roots, weekly applications of dilute liquid fertilizer will be of great benefit.

At all times these plants must be exposed to full sun and should be provided with airy, rather cool conditions. A night temperature of 50 degrees is ample on dull days the temperature may rise about 5 degrees and on sunny days 10 or even 15 degrees.

By supplementing daylight with artificial light (either of the fluorescent or incandescent kind) earlier and more flowers can be obtained from Tagetes grown in greenhouses in winter.

How to Plant Marigold Seeds in Arizona

Marigolds are a common choice for Arizona gardens because of their tolerance of heat and alkaline soil, as well as their low-maintenance reputation. Marigolds are also beneficial to other plants in your garden because they attract helpful insects and repel nematodes, tiny round worms that damage many garden plants. In cooler climates, gardeners need to wait until after the last frost to plant marigolds. However, because Arizona weather is so warm, gardeners there can plant them early in the spring.

Prepare your garden for planting in early spring, when the weather is consistently about 55 or 60 degrees. Marigolds will grow as long as there is no danger of frost, which is almost always the case in Arizona. Barring any unusual weather, planting the seeds in March or early April will be fine.

  • Marigolds are a common choice for Arizona gardens because of their tolerance of heat and alkaline soil, as well as their low-maintenance reputation.
  • However, because Arizona weather is so warm, gardeners there can plant them early in the spring.

Choose a location with full sun and good soil drainage to plant the seeds. Prepare the soil by adding a few handfuls of compost or other organic matter and incorporating the compost with the garden soil.

Sprinkle the seeds over the prepared soil. Some gardeners choose to sow marigold seeds in rows, while others simply spread the seeds across a designated area. Most marigold seeds have a fairly low germination rate, so you can drop several seeds in one area and only expect one or two plants to grow. Sow the seeds so there are one or two seeds for every square inch of soil space.

Cover the seeds with soil. Marigold seeds do not need to be planted very deeply, which is why you can just scatter the seeds over top your garden soil. To cover them, brush the topsoil over the seeds with your hands.

  • Choose a location with full sun and good soil drainage to plant the seeds.
  • Marigold seeds do not need to be planted very deeply, which is why you can just scatter the seeds over top your garden soil.

Water the ground thoroughly after planting and give the seeds about seven days to germinate. After your seedlings are several inches tall, or about two to three weeks after you plant the seeds, thin the seedlings so they are appropriately spaced. Spacing will depend on what type of marigold you planted, but most types will need about seven inches of space per plant. Check the seed packet for individual spacing instructions.

If you are counting on your marigolds for pest and nematode management, plant French marigolds, such as Gypsy Sunshine, Petite Harmony or Single Gold. Don't apply too much nitrogen fertilizer to your marigolds, as this can encourage too many leaves to grow, instead of flowers.

Planting Guide - Marigold Seeds

In a range of warm, summer-ready tones, Marigolds are a beautiful yet sturdy and dependable member of the garden. Moist, well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine is all your dutiful Marigolds will ask for and in return they will supply blooms all summer long through fall. But more than just a pretty flower, Marigolds protect your garden vegetables from unhealthy nematodes and its strong scent is thought to ward off other pests as well. Grown as an annual, scatter seeds for a blanket of color or dot your landscape or garden with strategically placed “security” to guard your precious vegetables.

Growing Marigolds in Your Garden

Marigolds are split into two different types, African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) and French Marigold (Tagetes patula). The French varieties offer a pompom-type head and feathered, fern-like leaves. In addition to their beauty, they produce the nematode-repelling substance that protects both vegetable as well as ornamental plants. African varieties are usually taller and available in a wider variety of colors and characteristics. Though they don’t offer the nematode defense system, African varieties give that pungent marigold trademark aroma and will work as a pest repellant by masking the delicious scent of vegetables that are irresistible to insect pests.

When & How to Plant Marigold Seeds

Probably one of the most commonly planted annuals in the world, Marigolds are a fantastic variety to begin as they were, most likely, the first seed you may have planted as a child. Novice or veteran, we keep coming back to Marigolds as our dependable garden stalwart as they are one of the most adaptable, versatile and incredibly useful plants out there.

Marigolds can be started indoors about 50-60 days before your last frost date. Start with a tray or pot filled with damp potting mix, sprinkle seeds on top and cover with ј” of soil. Cover your container with a clear lid or clear plastic film. Keep your containers warm for 3-4 days until you see germination. Once the marigold seedlings appear, move your tray or pots to a location where the seedlings will get at least five hours or more of light each day. The light can be from an artificial source. As the seedlings grow, keep your potting soil damp by watering from below. Once the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into their own pots where they can continue to grow indoors until all danger of frost has passed. Begin hardening off your marigold plants in preparation for outdoor planting.

For direct-sow areas, you can seed directly in the ground and cover with about ј” soil and water thoroughly.

Growing Guide

Once marigold flowers are planted, they need very little in the way of care. If they are planted in the gound, you only need to water them if the weather has been very dry for more than two weeks. If they are in containers, water them daily as containers will dry out quickly. Water soluble fertilizer can be given to them once a month, but to be honest, they will do as well without fertilizer as they do with it.

In general, all marigolds adapt well to sub-par soils. While most gardeners are always striving to improve their garden beds, marigolds are going to grow – regardless. They enjoy full sun and hot days and grow well in dry or moist soil. This hardiness is one of the reasons that they are often used throughout the garden for so many years.

Once established and healthy, marigolds will continue growing easily, even if left unattended. Water to keep the soil moist.

Possible Problems with Growing Marigolds

Marigolds have few problems with insect pests. Keep an eye out for slugs, which can decimate the plants overnight. Monitor closely and treat with Sluggo if damage is found. Spray soft-bodied pests like aphids and spider mites with a spray bottle of soapy water.


Marigolds will bloom prolifically summer through fall. You can increase the number of blooms and the length of blooming time by deadheading spent blossoms.

Preparing for Next Season

French Marigolds are often used as a cover crop to treat an area that has severe nematode problems. If you do, consider planting French marigolds en masse in a garden bed which you plan on using the following year.

Planting Guides & Videos

Everything you need to know when planting your seeds from Eden Brothers.

USDA Zone Map

Learn which horticultural species will perform the best within your particular geographic region.

Shipping Information

We offer several shipping methods to choose from, shipping from our warehouses on both coasts.

Gift Certificates

The perfect gift for all the gardeners in your life! Print and email options available.

All Content © Vista Horticultural Group and its Subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

Watch the video: Growing MARIGOLDS from Seed