How to Plant and Grow Marigolds

Marigolds are a popular flower for both vegetable gardens and decorative planting. Yellow and orange petals, an inviting aroma, and a cheerful disposition, right? However, these flowers are much more than just beautiful decorations for your garden or vase!

You can plant marigolds to help repel pests in your garden and around entertainment areas. Plant in large decorative pots on your patio to help keep mosquitoes away while you relax and enjoy your outdoor space.

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How to grow marigold from seed

Marigolds are a great annual flower that can add a pop of color to your garden beds, help repel unwanted insects, and attract pollinators to your garden.

Marigolds can be started from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost to give them a head start for the summer season. Marigolds will sprout within a few days and begin to bloom within 8 weeks. Marigolds bloom early and will continue to bloom through the growing season until the first frost.

Starting marigold seeds indoors is easy. Place your seeds in your growing medium and spray with water daily to help keep them moist but not sopping wet. After your marigolds have formed, true leaves thin to one plant per container.

Harden off before planting the full sun after the danger of that last frost has passed.

Will marigolds grow in the shade?

This is a common question gardeners have. While marigolds will grow in the partial shade, they prefer and grow better where they are provided full sun.

These sun-loving flowers are great for edible garden beds or companion planting with your sun-loving vegetables. If you need to grow them in partial shade, look for space where they will receive at least 6 hours of sun per day for the best results.

If you do choose to grow marigolds in the shade, you should plant them closer together than you normally would as they will not grow as large and spread out to cover the space as they would in full sun areas.

How to care for your marigold plants

Plant your marigolds in well-draining soil that is fairly fertile. Clay-heavy soil can stunt the growth of your marigolds, preventing them from growing to their full potential. To improve your soil quality, till in fresh compost and other organic matter such as old mulch.

Marigolds generally do not need fertilizer to grow and will do well with fairly poor soil conditions. That said, you can fertilize them to encourage larger plants but can leave you with fewer blooms as this plant is more likely to grow many flowers when left neglected.

If you care more about filling in space in a garden bed, then having many blooms fertilizing is an option to encourage more foliage growth.

Keep your marigolds well watered and provide them with enough sunlight, and they will quickly grow to cover your space.

Water at the base of your plants to avoid soaking the leaves and flowers, which can lead to issues with powdery mildew and mold issues. Mulching your marigolds can help trap in water and prevent weeds from taking hold so your marigolds can grow and thrive.

To encourage your marigolds to produce more flowers, be sure to deadhead your flowers using clean garden shears. You can shake the seeds off in your garden to allow them to self-sow or save the seeds from your marigolds for planting next year.

What can you companion plant with marigolds?

Marigolds are a great addition to your garden. They can be used to help repel deer, rabbits, and unwanted insects like mosquitoes and aphids. Sadly they can attract slugs and snails and should not be grown in areas where these pests are a common problem.

Leave the roots of your marigolds in the soil at the end of the season to help deal with nematodes that may be causing issues in your garden beds.

Marigolds can be used as a border plant around your garden beds or mixed right in with your plants. Marigolds can improve the growth of basil, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, kale, potatoes, and squash while helping to protect them from pests.

Marigolds make an amazing flower to grow in your garden and can be a great companion plant for tomatoes. Marigolds not only help to control pests in your tomato garden beds but also help to improve the flavor of your tomatoes.

Marigold varieties

There are several varieties of marigolds, including pot marigolds, also referred to as calendula, a healing herb. The puffy blooms of Mexican marigold look amazing in nearly any situation and grow very well in hot climates.

Little hero marigold is great for growing in tight spaces and can help you get marigold into even a bursting garden bed; with its short height, it acts as a living mulch around your tomatoes.

Queen Sophia Marigold has a reddish-orange bloom with yellow along the edges that make for a great decorative flower that can add a pop of color as a garnish for meals and salads.

Marigold FAQs

In this section, I answer some of the most frequently asked questions about marigolds.

Do marigolds come back every year?

As an annual, marigolds will wilt and die back in the fall, however, marigolds can self-seed so they may come back from seed.

How easy is it to grow marigolds?

Once planted, marigolds grow rapidly and require very little maintenance. Most thrive in full sun or partial shade with only minor adjustments to your watering schedule during the hotter months.

Do marigolds attract bees?

Bees are drawn to marigolds because of the variety of pollen and nectar available. These flowers offer bees a significant source of food, especially in late summer when other plant life has died off for winter.

marigold flowers

And for more information about growing other flowers in your garden, check out these next: