Seeds for Beginners: Marigolds

Jill Staake

As I confessed earlier, I have rotten luck (or skills?) when it comes to starting seeds. There are a few species that even I can’t screw up though, and I’ve been sharing them with you, starting with zinnias in my last post. Today, another can’t-miss annual from seed: marigolds.

A Little About Marigolds:

Most plants sold as “Marigolds” today are cultivars of Tagetes erecta (African Marigold) or Tagetes patula (French Marigold), both of which are native to Mexico and Central America despite the common names sometimes applied. Don’t confuse them with plants of the genus Calendula, sometimes also called marigolds. Marigolds usually range in color from yellow to orange, although new white cultivars are now available. Both species generally have strongly-scented foliage which some find unpleasant. Marigolds are often used as a companion planting in vegetable gardens, as they are known to keep pests like nematodes away from plants.

Why I Love Marigolds From Seed:

  • Like any no-fail seed, marigold seeds are large enough to see and handle easily, and don’t require any special steps like scarification before planting.
  • Marigold seeds are easily collected from the previous season’s blooms, and most gardeners are happy to share them with friends.
  • Start indoors a few weeks before the last frost, or just broad sow in rows when spring arrives or even midway through summer, because…
  • …Marigolds sprout, grow, and bloom in record time – some varieties in as little as six weeks! Great for those who lack patience (like yours truly).

Five Marigolds to Try:

Seed Starting Resources:

Are you a marigold grower? Tell us your favorite varieties and give us your growing tips in the comments below.

  1. Noelle says

    Hi Jill,

    I love growing Marigolds in my vegetable gardens. They repel damaging insects while also adding beauty to the garden. Another bonus is how easy they are to grow from seed. Often, I let them self-seed and they come up every year.


  2. Barbara says

    When I lived in Kansas I found a short marigold variety I liked for ground cover in one area of my yard. I collected the seeds each year and always had an abundance without ever purchasing them again. I now live in AZ and am relearning gardening. Thanks for your informative articles.

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