Marigolds (Tagetes) are beloved garden plants with richly symbolic value, and numerous benefits, including rapid growth. If you’re looking for a plant that you don’t need to watch for months before flowering, Marigolds are an excellent option for you. Follow this guide to discover how long it takes marigolds to flower from seed by type and tips on planting and care to get the most out of your plants.
Growth Expectations and Timings
All types of Marigolds germinate within a few days and usually within a week. Some African Marigolds may take slightly longer to germinate – up to 14 days.
Marigold plants are quick growers and will develop lush green foliage within a few weeks after planting. Although it varies by type and cultivar, Marigolds produce flowers two months after planting.
French and Signet Marigolds are the quickest to bloom, with some producing flowers in as little as 45 days. African Marigolds take slightly longer to mature. Some can take up to three months or even slightly longer to produce flowers. Starting seeds early indoors will ensure the quickest blooming time for these cultivars.
Marigolds will continue to flower throughout summer until fall with the proper care, making them perfect for fresh-cut marigold flower vases and bouquet arrangements as well as garden ornamentals. Once the flowers fade, the foliage will remain full and green until the first frost in fall when the plant dies back. You can also support this process by cutting back Marigolds at the end of the season.
Marigolds – members of the Tagetes genus, not to be confused with Pot Marigolds (Calendula) – comprise more than 50 species. However, there are only a few common in cultivation and are typically what come to mind when you imagine marigold flowers:
- French Marigold: Tagetes patula
- African Marigold: Tagetes erecta, also known as Aztec or American Marigold
- Signet Marigold: Tagetes tenuifolia
- Triploid Marigold: Tagetes patula x erecta, a hybrid cross between French and African types.
Planting and Marigold blooming times and growth rate differ slightly depending on your chosen species and the cultivar within that species. Make sure you know which type you’re dealing with before planting.
Marigolds can produce sap when cut or handled. This sap can cause skin irritation if it comes into contact with exposed skin, so always wear gloves when handling marigolds.
When To Plant Marigolds
Marigolds are planted from spring to early summer, depending on the variety. They are usually planted from seeds, but you can also purchase starter plants from your local nursery to plant out later in the season.
As they germinate and mature quickly, French and Signet Marigolds are best planted from seed in early or mid-spring, depending on the frost dates in your region. They can be started indoors too but will grow just as well sown straight into the ground.
African Marigolds take slightly longer to mature and flower. When planting from seed, they are best sown indoors around four weeks before the last frost date in your region.
Alternatively, you can wait until the weather warms and purchase starter plants from the nursery. This will ensure the quickest blooming time and the most extended blooming season.
For cultivars that flower later into fall, you can continue to sow seeds until early summer. Make sure you plant at the right time for your specific variety and region to ensure you get the most out of your plants.
Where To Plant Marigolds
Marigolds are full sun plants that need rich, well-draining soil to thrive. Choose a spot that receives at least 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
In warmer regions, French Marigolds may benefit from some light shade in the afternoons at the height of summer.
On the other hand, African Marigolds tolerate the heat and can handle a full day of direct, intense sunlight as long as they receive enough water.
How To Plant Marigolds
Prepare the planting site by loosening the soil a few inches down. If required, amend with compost to improve quality or sand to improve drainage. The best Marigold soil should be slightly acidic to neutral for the best flowering.
If sowing seeds, space them around an inch apart on premoistened soil. Press them gently into the soil to ensure all areas are covered but not so deep they struggle to germinate.
Once they start to sprout, thin by keeping the strongest seedlings, spacing 8 inches apart for French Marigolds and 10 inches apart for African Marigolds. This guide can differ slightly based on your chosen cultivar, so check the spread of your type for the correct spacing to avoid overcrowding.
Plant starter plants at the same depth as the original bag or container and water thoroughly after planting to encourage root growth.
Marigolds also grow well in containers. With a large enough pot to accommodate their mature size, you can sow seeds directly into the pot or transplant them from seed trays once they have grown a few inches tall. Use light and well-draining potting mix to prevent root rot.
Marigolds are generally considered easy to care for. With the proper sunny position, they should flower prolifically throughout summer.
Marigolds aren’t too fussy about what soil they are planted in. However, they will perform their best in rich, well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.
Heavy clay is unsuitable for these plants as it does not drain well enough, leading to rot. If you only have areas with heavy clay, amend with compost and sand to improve conditions, working it into the soil several inches down to cover all root areas before planting.
Alternatively, plant in containers using a high-quality potting mix.
Amendments & Fertilizer
When planted in nutrient-rich soil, Marigolds will not need additional fertilizer. However, this ideal soil is not typical in home gardens, so these plants will generally benefit from an extra boost at planting and occasionally before flowering.
When planting, amend the soil with compost to add beneficial organic materials and nutrients. If the soil is of very poor quality, you can also add slow-release Marigold fertilizer while planting to improve conditions.
If you notice problems with growth in the early stages, you can also apply a fertilizer high in phosphorus about a month after planting. This nutrient will aid in flower production, directing energy toward blooms rather than foliage growth.
While establishing, keep the soil around the plants moist. This will encourage root growth and prevent early stress that can impact later flowering. Once established, allow the soil to dry out slightly before the next watering.
In summer, additional watering may be required to combat the heat. Similarly, Marigolds in pots require more watering as the soil dries out far more quickly in containers.
No matter where your Marigolds are planted, ensure you water the soil directly rather than the entire plant overhead. Water on the foliage attracts pests and diseases, and if it gets trapped in the flower heads, it can rot too.
Diseases and Pests
Marigolds are well-known for their pest-repelling capabilities. However, there are still specific bugs they are susceptible to. Look out for spider mites and leaf miners and treat them immediately with neem oil or insecticidal soap before the infestation becomes too severe.
Marigolds can also succumb to diseases like root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot in warm and humid weather. Prune overgrown plants to increase airflow and space plants correctly to prevent overcrowding. Avoiding overhead watering will also go a long way to preventing these issues.
To tackle pests and diseases, keep your plants healthy and avoid stress. This will allow their natural defenses to work as intended. Prune away any damaged or underperforming foliage regularly, as these plant parts are more vulnerable to attack.
For impatient gardeners who want blooms as soon as possible, Marigolds are ideal. Give them about two months from planting, possibly more depending on variety, and you will get to enjoy their colorful marigold blooms throughout the season.
For more, see our essential guide to everything you need to know about how to grow Marigolds.