Marigolds are beautiful garden flowers that are also rich in meaning and symbolic value. The blooms come in a wide range of bright and cream colors that provide an option for every kind of gardener. Follow this guide to find out about what color marigolds come in and the best options for your garden or next floral arrangement.
What Color Do Marigolds Come In? – The Essentials
Marigolds (Tagetes) come in many fiery colors. Orange is the most common, but there are also red, bright yellow, cream-yellow, and almost white varieties. Bicolor options are also popular, with many cultivars featuring red, yellow, orange, and yellow petals and contrasting centers.
Marigolds are plants in the Tagetes genus, containing over 50 species and even more exciting hybrids and cultivars. The genus was one of many classified in 1753 by botanist Carl Linnaeus, inventor of the binomial naming system still used today.
These plants fall under Asteraceae, commonly known as the aster or sunflower family. This family contains the second largest number of species – a whopping 32 000 – second only to the Orchid family.
Marigolds share their common name with another genus of plants, Calendula, leading to some confusion. While Calendula species are often known as pot marigolds or Scotch marigolds, the term is typically reserved only for plants of the Tagetes genus.
Calendulas are part of the same family as Tagetes but have slightly different growth habits, native habitats, and care requirements. It’s best not to mix these two plants up.
Marigolds are native to the Americas, from the South of the United States down into the South American continent. Each species has a different region of origin, but most are restricted to the western hemisphere.
Due to their long history and many uses and benefits, marigold plants have become naturalized in regions worldwide. Most are excellent garden plants that make great companions.
Marigold varieties produce attractive foliage with thin, pinnate leaves, typically in a dark green color but varying slightly depending on the species. The leaves have a strong odor known for repelling pests and keeping vegetable gardens bug-free.
But, what they are really appreciated for are their beautiful flowers. The flowers range from delicate and small to dense pom-poms described as a giant. Depending on the variety, they flower throughout summer on stems reaching up to 6 feet high and are rapid bloomers from seed.
Their benefits don’t stop there. The flowers are used to make essential oils, perfumes, and food coloring commercially. They are also edible and have many health benefits, including relieving nausea and aiding sleep.
Marigolds benefit from trimming throughout the growing season and can be cut back in late fall each year. It’s also worth fertilizing your marigolds in early spring before the flowering season if needed and providing a consistent watering cycle.
Among the many marigold species, there are some main types you will come across at your local nursery
- 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.
Each species has slightly different characteristics and uses in the garden. They also come in many different colors, ranging from bright orange to deep red, which are the perfect way to
brighten up any garden bed.
Marigold Color Varieties
When you think of marigolds, orange is undoubtedly the first color to come to mind. Whether they display the delicate thin petals of the Signet marigold or the dense pom-poms of the African marigold, orange is an irresistible color.
French marigold fans will appreciate the bright blooms of Hero Orange. This marigold remains short and compact, sporting large double flowers in bright and captivating orange. It has also won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Discovery Orange is another popular orange type, an African marigold with dense foliage and flowers. They are great in containers, producing masses of color from summer through to fall.
If you’re looking for a summer flower that emulates the season’s sunshine, bright yellow marigolds are ideal. Some varieties produce blinding, almost luminous yellow petals that are guaranteed to stand out in your flower beds or amongst your veggies.
Evident in the name, Zenith Lemon Yellow fits this color category perfectly. A type of Triploid marigold (Tagetes patula x erecta), this plant flowers prolifically and doesn’t set seed at the end of the season.
If you prefer single flowers that bloom en masse, try the Signet variety Lemon Gem. It grows to about a foot high and becomes a sea of bright yellow in summer – an excellent choice for borders.
Bright yellow is not all this genus of plants has to offer. More muted tones of pastel or creamy yellow are also available, adding a soft touch to cottage gardens and cut marigold flower arrangements. Try pairing them with some of the lighter orange varieties for a gentle summery display.
Tagetes erecta’ Sweet Cream‘ is the perfect example of what this color group has to offer. The flowers are rounded with dense petals in a light yellow, ideal for flower arranging. They grow just over a foot tall with masses of stunning blooms that will continue to flower with regular deadheading.
A type that may be harder to find but is well worth the extra detective work is Kilimanjaro White, another African marigold. The blooms are an almost-white creamy yellow with bright yellow centers that give you the best of both worlds.
To contrast your creamy yellow marigolds, choose an orange-red type. This captivating color is intense and fiery, often complimented by touches of yellow in the petals or center of the flowers.
The dense pom-poms of Zenith Red, part of the same series as Lemon Yellow, change color slowly over time, switching between a deep red and fiery orange that provide continual interest in the garden.
Red Gem, again related to the Yellow Gem, is a Signet marigold with gorgeous orange-red petals and a bright yellow center. These colorful blooms are bound to catch your eye, making a fantastic statement piece.
For a richer, velvety red, there are a few marigold types to choose from. These flowers add instant elegance to your beds with deep blooms from dark red to almost chocolate-brown. Combine these marigolds with leafy deep green plants for excellent contrast and mood-building.
The French marigold Fireball says it all with its name. Starting out a deep and dark red once opened, the blooms change to a brighter orange and end off a golden color, emulating the colors of the flames it is named after.
Durango Red and Alumia Red are similar French marigolds with an intense red color that holds throughout the season. Plant them next to other French marigolds in orange and yellow across entire beds for an array of bright colors throughout summer.
Of all the double-colored petals, red and yellow are the most popular combination when it comes to marigolds. These flowers provide the best of both worlds, with luminous yellow and deep red that contrasts wonderfully.
One of the more common bicolor marigolds is Colossus. This French marigold has deep red petals with yellow edges. These colors, combined with the density of the petals, explain why Colossus is a garden favorite among marigold lovers.
Bounty, another French marigold, adds something a little different. The petals are also edged in a slight ring of yellow, but contrast again with the bright yellow centers that hero both colors.
Orange and yellow bicolor marigolds are your answer for a more harmonious pairing. Many of the bicolor flowers fall under this color category, giving you many types to choose from.
Safari Scarlet, a French marigold, has orange-red petals with yellow tips that blend perfectly together. They remain compact and flower prolifically – ideal for growing in containers on a balcony or patio.
Fans of fiery colors will certainly find what they are looking for in the marigold genus. As they grow well together, you don’t need to be limited to one type either. Choose your favorites and dot them around your garden for stunning pops of summer color.
For more, see our essential guide to everything you need to know about how to grow Marigolds.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.
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