A large genus of free-flowering tender annuals, which have become a real stalwart of British summer bedding schemes. Robust, reliable and very easy to grow.
Family: Asteraceae (daisy family)
Botanical Name: Tagetes (tah-JEE-deez)
Common Names: African marigold, Aztec marigold, French marigold
Foliage: Fresh green, feathery foliage, with a pungent aroma.
Flowers: Bright and showy daisy-like flowers. The blooms can be single, semi-double or fully double and come in every shade of orange, yellow and mahogany-red. White forms are also available.
Flowering Period: June to October.
Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH. Avoid waterlogged conditions.
Conditions: Best in full sun. Grow in an east, west or south facing aspect.
Habit: Upright, bushy.
Type: Tender annuals or perennials, usually grown in the UK as half-hardy annuals.
Origin: South America.
Toxicity Foliage may aggravate skin. Wear gloves when handling.
Hardiness: Semi-hardy - tolerates low temperatures but not frost.
Planting and Growing Tagetes
Although very easy to propagate from seed garden centres usually provide an excellent range of plug plants and trays of young plants in spring. However, if you want something different then it's worth growing some of the more unusual or flamboyant varieties from seed.
Plant outside in late May once all danger of frost has past in your area. Marigolds will thrive in any good garden soil but they do best in a well-drained, poorish soil, in a warm sunny position.
Dwarf and intermediate forms are good in borders and containers. Tall varieties are excellent for cut flowers, which last extremely well in water.
Tagetes stand up well to poor weather and provide a popular source of red, orange and yellow colour in summer.
Taking Care of Tagetes
Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily.
To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form. Do not over fertilize.
Support very tall varieties.
Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period. As the old flowers fade new ones will continually open, so the plants remain decorative throughout the season.
Pull up and discard tired plants on the compost heap once flowering has finished in the autumn.
Pests and Diseases
Young plants are susceptible to slugs and snails. Can be affected by powdery mildew.
Sow seeds in early April and thin after germination. Prick-out, pot on and harden-off before planting at the end of May. In mild regions, seed can be direct sown outdoors in May, in a prepared flowerbed.
Popular Varieties of Tagetes
A great variety of varieties are available, in a range of forms from tall to intermediate and dwarf. The two main species are T. erecta (African marigold) and T. patula (French marigold). The smaller flowered varieties are hybrids of T. signata (T. tenuifolia). Modern F1 hybrids provide an abundance of flowers in glowing shades. New cultivars are being developed every year.
Tagetes erecta (African Marigold) large bushy plants with large, bold double flowers. Height from 12 to 24in.
- 'African Sun' large blooms in traditional shades of bright yellow, gold and orange with a good all weather performance. For sale at Gardening Direct.
- 'African Vanilla' creamy white flowers. For sale at Gardening Direct.
- 'Crackerjack Mixed' large, bold double flowers in orange, gold and lemon borne well above the foliage. A very early and free flowering strain. Height 24in (60cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Discovery Yellow' (F1 Hybrid) large bright yellow, double blooms on dwarf sturdy, neat and tidy plants. Height 20-25cm (8-10in). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Dune Mixed' a striking mixture of yellow, gold and orange. Good weather resistance. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'French Vanilla' creamy white flowered African marigold which produces masses of large blooms up to 3in (8cm) across that are absolutely pure in colour. Height 18in (45cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- 'Inca Mixed' big double flowers and compact habit. Mix of primrose, yellow, gold and orange. Height to 12in (30cm).
- 'Konstance' (Afro-French Marigold) double mahogany red, large blooms. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Lemon Mum' lemon yellow, double Chrysanthemum-flowered Marigold. Height 24-30in (60-75cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Moon' large, fully double primrose-yellow flower heads. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Sunspot Mixed' dwarf, compact plants have good sized flower heads of orange, light yellow and gold. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Taishan Mix' large African marigolds in a brilliant mix of yellow, gold and orange shades. Height 8 to 12in (20-30cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
Tagetes patula (French Marigold) smaller, compact plants with single or double flowers in shades of white, yellow, orange or red.
- 'Alumia Vanilla Cream' unique vanilla cream double blooms on neat bushy plants. Blooms all summer. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Bonanza Series' (F1 Hybrid) mixed bedding and container favourite. For sale at Crocus.
- 'Bonanza Mix' large bright flowers with strong stems in a mix of sunshine colours. For sale at You Garden.
- 'Bonita Mixed' a sparkling mixture of free flowering, large carnation-sized blooms. Superb for bedding. Height 12in (30cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Boy O' Boy Mix' compact cheerful mix of large double-crested flowers from June to the first frosts. Height and spread 6in (15cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- ‘Dainty Marietta’ compact form with single, golden yellow striped and marked maroon flowers. Height 6in. For sale at Crocus.
- 'Durango Improved' early flowering with extra-large anemone-type flowers. For sale at Van Meuwen.
- 'Durango Tangerine' (F1 Hybrid) intense, rich, orange anemone-like flower heads, borne on branching, uniform plants. Early flowering. Height: 8-10in (20-25cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Fireball' one of the most easy to grow and reliable of all marigolds. For sale at Van Meuwen.
- ‘Harmony’ mahogany with orange centre. Height 9in.
- 'Jesters Mix' striped gold and terracotta-coloured blooms on compact bushy plants. Height 8in (25cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- 'Legion of Honour' single-flowered variety bearing pretty bicoloured blooms all summer. Height and spread: 12in (30cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- ‘Naughty Marietta’ large single, golden-yellow striped maroon. Height 12in (30cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Orange Winner' Compact growing marigold that bursts into bloom from June to the first frosts! Suitable for bedding, borders or containers. Height and spread: 6in (15cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- 'Pots of Gold' mix of tall, single-flowered marigolds in a blend of three fiery colours. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Scarlet Sophie' camellia-like blooms in a rich russet red, trimmed with gold. Height: 10-12in (25-30cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Strawberry Blonde' NEW the buds are almost red in colour, opening out into a mixed palette of apricot-pink petals. Height 8in (20cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- 'Summer Loving Mix' bushy, compact, free-flowering plants with masses of double golden blooms throughout summer. Height and spread 12in (30cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.
- ‘Sparky’ large double, red and gold shades, mixed. Height 10in (25cm).
- 'Tip Top' beautiful large blooms in varying combinations of golden yellow, orange and deep russet red. For sale at Gardening Direct.
Tagetes tenuifolia (Signet Marigold) single-flowered Marigold with ferny leaves and masses of tiny flowers in shades of yellow or orange.
- 'Golden Gem' bushy plants with attractive golden flowers all summer long. An excellent variety for bedding, borders and patio containers. Height: 23cm (9). For sale at Crocus.
- 'Lemon Gem' compact popular half hardy annual, ideal as an edging to paths or lawns. Mounded plants smothered in blooms from the end of June onwards. Height 9in (23cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
- 'Paprika' bicolour, gold edge red flowers. Height 8in (20cm).
- 'Starfire' compact, neat plants with flowers in a rich colour range. Height 6-8in (15-20cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.