Grow Tagetes Lemmonii for Winter Flower Color

Tagetes lemmonii, a yellow flowering plant with several common names, will add color to your garden even in winter in southern growing zones.

Many Common Names

Lemon Marigold,Mexican Bush Marigold,Copper Canyon Daisyhappykamill/Getty Images
These plants are known by many names, including mountain marigold and Mexican bush marigold.

I almost never begin a post here on Birds & Blooms by giving the botanical name of a plant instead of the common name, but I found so many common names for this one I didn’t feel like I had a choice! Tagetes lemmonii is known as copper canyon daisy, Mexican bush marigold, mountain marigold, or Mount Lemmon marigold, and I couldn’t find one that was used more than another. So you can pick the one you like the most, and then decide if it might be right for your garden.

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Care and Growing Tips

Tagetes lemmonii - Short Day PlantsJill Staake
Another name for Tagetes lemmonii is copper canyon daisy. 
  • Botanical name: Tagetes lemmonii
  • Common names: Copper canyon daisy, Mexican bush marigold, mountain marigold, or Mount Lemmon marigold
  • Zones: 8 to 11
  • Light needs: Full sun

Tagetes lemmonii is native to high mountain canyons in Arizona and Mexico, and is related to other more familiar marigolds. It will grow well in zones 8 to 11, although it will freeze back to the ground in zone 8 and return the following year. It’s ideal for areas that have warm dry autumns and winters, since that is the bloom time for this sprawling shrubby flower.

It’s photosensitive, meaning it blooms only when the days grow shorter in the fall. It will continue blooming through to early spring (if it’s not killed by frost), when longer days will cause it to rest throughout the summer.

Grow Tagetes lemmonii in full sun and well-drained soil. Once it’s established, it definitely doesn’t want to be over-watered. If you have the right spot in your garden for it, it will do just fine on its own throughout the fall and winter months. In the spring, when the blooms are done, you can cut it back if you need to, but the foliage remains fragrant and attractive until the flowers return. You can grow more plants from seed, root stem cuttings, or divide the plant in spring.

Plant Valentine bush for flowering beauty in winter.

Benefits and Caution

Copper Canyon Daisy(Lemon Marigold,Mexican Bush Marigold) flowershappykamill/Getty Images
Gardeners will enjoy yellow flowers blooming in autumn and winter.

A single plant becomes fairly large and sprawling, but stays pretty low to the ground. Tagetes lemmonii has very fragrant foliage, which to my nose smells like a mix of lemon and tarragon. Others describe the smell as minty and fruity. There are also those who don’t care for it at all. Like the name, that’s a call you’ll have to make for yourself!

One word of warning. Some people are sensitive to the oils in this plant. They will sprout an itchy rash if their skin is exposed to the oils and then to sunlight. If you’re working with this plant, wear long sleeves and garden gloves. Then wash your hands and arms immediately after you’re done.

Next, learn how to grow another favorite fall flowering plant: autumn sage.

Jill Staake
Jill Staake's lifelong love of nature turned into a career during the years she spent working with native Florida butterflies, caterpillars, and other wildlife at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida. During this time, she helped to maintain 30+ acres of gardens and backwoods, all carefully cultivated to support the more than 20 species of butterflies displayed indoors and out. She now writes for a variety of publications and sites on topics like gardening and birding, among others.