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How to Plant and Grow Marigolds

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Marigolds are a staple flower in my spring and summer vegetable garden. Not only are they beautiful and low lying, but they work hard at keeping pests away from your previous veggies. Find out how to plant and grow marigolds in your garden this year!

Marigolds are an ideal annual flower to plant in the hot summer months, which is why they thrive in my spring and summer garden. And as a bonus, they will even thrive under the hot summer sun with minimal water. Since they fare so well under harsh conditions it’s a given that they will excel in more favorable conditions.

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Marigolds are hardy plants that require minimal maintenance, and they have a lot to offer. In addition to their yellow-orange pom-pom blooms, marigolds work hard to repel pests away from the garden.

Use these planting and growing tips and get started growing your own attractive, drought-tolerant, organic pest control. 

The Benefits of Marigolds

  • Marigolds have a long blooming season and will produce colorful blooms from spring through the first frost in fall.
  • Marigolds repel nematodes and bad garden insects. Their fragrance is repulsive to cats, dogs, and deer.
  • Plant marigolds around your garden to help control pests naturally and to attract pollinators. (See my complete guide to Natural Pest Control for the Home Garden for more chemical-free pest control ideas and techniques.)
  • Some varieties of marigolds are actually edible!
  • Saving marigold seeds at the end of the season is quite easy, so you can save your own seed from year to year.
  • French Marigolds– This classic marigold variety is one of the most common seen for sale. With the classic yellow and orange coloring, French marigolds are a classic and reliable flower for the garden. They do come in a variety of colors, other than the standard orange.
  • African Marigolds- These marigolds have more of a rounded bloom, almost like a pom, unlike the frilled edges of the French marigolds. They come in a variety of colors.
  • Signata Marigolds– These small, wispy marigolds have fern-like leaves and are much more compact than traditional marigold varieties

How to Grow Marigolds from Seed

Choose a variety of marigold seeds that suit your location and plant neighbors. Marigolds do come in a variety of colors and sizes. Plant marigold seeds directly into prepared soil in the spring after all danger of frost has passed.

Prep the soil by adding compost and having the soil tested to make sure it has all of the proper nutrients. See this full post on how to improve your garden soil.

Plant the seeds several inches deep and be sure to space them out according to package instructions. Some varieties of marigolds can spread quite a bit, so you want to give your flowers plenty of room.

Marigolds come in heights that range from a petite 6-inches to a towering 3-feet. The colors range from pale yellow to reddish-orange and bloom size can be 2-inches or 4-inches.

summer marigolds growing large in the early fall garden

When and How to Plant Marigolds

Small containers of marigold bedding plants can be purchased in late spring and planted for instant garden color. If you struggle to start plants from seeds, then I highly recommend this method for planting.

Marigolds thrive in a location that is in full sun and has well-draining soil. A location that will provide the plants with a little shade in the late afternoon is ideal. These growing conditions also make them ideal for growing in containers, so give that a try!

marigolds and a tomato growing in a container
a young marigold growing alongside a tomato plant in a container

Grow petite marigolds in hanging baskets or use them as border plants. The taller varieties make great backdrop plants, and all varieties make wonderful companion plants for vegetables, fruits, and other flowers.

How to care for marigolds

  • Work 2-inches of compost into the soil before planting marigold seeds or bedding plants. The compost will promote soil drainage and help keep the plants fed all summer.
  • Add a 2-inches layer of organic mulch around the plants to keep the soil cool, retain moisture, and prevent weed growth.
  • Deadhead the spent blooms regularly to keep the plants producing new blooms.
  • Water during times of prolonged drought or when the plants begin to wilt.
  • Fertilize marigolds one month after planting and each time the plant is deadheaded with your favorite organic plant food. (I personally like Espoma brand.)

Pruning/Dead Heading Marigolds

Marigolds make long-lasting cut flowers, so they can be enjoyed indoors along with other summer blooms. To use marigolds as cut flowers, cut six inches or more down the limb and strip off the leaves to remove the scent. Place in a clean jar or a vase filled with fresh water. Replace the water every few days.

For deadheading, do so as needed, but allow some blooms to remain on the plant at the end of summer to dry out and develop seeds. These seeds will drop to the ground and the marigold will reseed itself for next year’s growth. Seeds can also be collected and stored for starting indoors or directly in the garden the following year.

Growing Flowers in the Garden

Add color and life to your yard and garden by planting flowers! From low maintenance blooms to those that are a bit more finicky, flowers bring pops of color and are a delight to the eye.

Allison Sculthorpe

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Do these repel squirrels? I had an awful time last summer with squirrels eating my tomatoes so I'm thinking about planting some in the container with my tomato plants this year. Will their growth be contained by being in the container/next to the tomato plant? And one last question! When the marigold drop seeds, will they be alright to be outside during the freezing winter weather? Or should I bring the container down into my basement where it will be a little warmer? Sorry, I'm such a novice but have been reading your stuff for a while and so appreciate your videos and tips!


Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Hi Allison, though I've heard squirrels don't like the scent, I wouldn't rely on the marigolds to keep them from stealing tomatoes. The best method I've used for keeping squirrels away from my tomatoes is draping wildlife netting over them and pinning it into the soil. This has been a game-changer for us. Hope this helps!