Marigolds are colorful, easy-going plants that are not fussy about many conditions, including soil. When it comes to type, pH, or fertility, there are only a few necessary requirements. Beyond that, Marigolds offer a host of benefits and are incredibly adaptive, and won’t give you much trouble. In this guide, we’ll cover the essentials of Marigold soil, including types, pH, as well as the best soil for potted Marigolds.

The Best Soil For Marigolds (Essential Guide)

The Best Soil For Marigolds – The Essentials

Marigolds can grow in many soil types except heavy clay as it does not drain well enough. They prefer a slightly acidic soil pH between 6.2 and 7 but can adapt to soils slightly out of this range. Moderately fertile soils are suitable, but highly fertile loam is preferred for the quickest growth and prolific flowering.

Types Of Soil Explained

Types Of Soil Explained

Soil is an essential component of plant health. It has a significant impact on root growth, without which the plant could not grow or survive above the soil.

Firstly, soil holds onto a certain amount of moisture, depending on the consistency. Water is vital to photosynthesis, so the roots need plenty of it to thrive.

The soil also contains specific nutrients drawn up with the water and transported around the plant. Without these nutrients, the plant would not survive. With only a few nutrients and a lack of others, you will notice major problems in your plant’s growth.

Soil type also controls how much oxygen reaches the roots of your plant, preventing suffocation.

In short, soil type is a vital consideration when growing any plant, including Marigolds. These types are separated by the sizes of the particles in the soil, impacting their characteristics:

  • Clay Soil: Small particles close together with little space between them, holding on to lots of water and draining very slowly
  • Sandy Soil: Large particles of soil that don’t hold onto much water.
  • Silt: The middle ground between clay soil and sandy soil in terms of particle size.
  • Loam: The best soil for many garden plants, containing a combination of all three soil types in different amounts.

pH also differs between soils and has an impact on plant growth. Peat-based soils are more acidic, with a pH below 7. Chalky soils are alkaline with a pH above 7, drying out quickly.

The Best Soil Type For Marigolds

The Best Soil Type For Marigolds

Marigolds are lovely garden plants for several reasons, including their ability to adapt to a range of soil conditions. They generally don’t mind what soil type they are grown in, as long as it drains well enough.

That being said, heavy clay soils are the only type not suitable for these plants. Holding onto water, heavy clay will quickly rot the roots of your Marigolds, preventing growth and flowering. You can try growing Marigolds in light clay soils, but you must be very careful with watering and rain to ensure the soil does not become waterlogged, suffocating the roots.

As with most plants, loam is the ideal soil. However, Marigolds can also grow in sandy soil when given water more often to make up for the quick drainage. You can also amend clay soils to reach this consistency by mixing in river sand and compost a few inches down to improve drainage and aeration.

Nutrients are not a significant concern, as Marigolds are known to grow quite well in low-nutrient soils if given an extra boost of fertilizer throughout the flowering season. They will grow and flower quickest in rich soils, but moderately fertile soils are no problem for these plants.

The Best Soil pH For Marigolds

Marigolds’ easy-going nature extends to the soil pH too. Most types of marigolds grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7, but don’t mind if the conditions are slightly more acidic or more alkaline. They generally aren’t fussy unless the pH drops well below 5.5 or above 7.5.

To make alkaline soil more acidic, there are a few options. Many gardeners choose to add sulfur to the soil to quickly lower pH. For a long-term solution, continue to amend the soil with compost, which breaks down over time to lower the soil pH and improve microbe activity in the soil.

To make acidic soil more alkaline, rake lime into the soil and water well to alter conditions. Do so gradually to avoid changing conditions drastically, as Marigolds are far more tolerant of acidic soils than excessively alkaline ones.

Before you make any amendments, it’s best to conduct a quick soil test to know exactly how much product to add to produce the right pH.

The Best Soil For Potted Marigolds

The Best Soil For Potted Marigolds

When it comes to Marigolds in containers, the rules are entirely different. Containers, by nature of being contained, hold onto water, requiring larger soil particles to drain all the excess moisture away through the drainage hole. They also need more nutrients as they are not replenished once used up by the plants.

A light and high-quality potting mix are far better than garden soil which generally does not drain well enough and can carry various pests and diseases. If your Marigolds are in anything less than full sun conditions, you should also add a handful or two of sand or perlite to increase drainage.

Try any of these options ideal for Marigolds, amended with additional materials as needed:

Signs Your Marigold Is In The Wrong Soil

Signs Your Marigold Is In The Wrong Soil

Yellowing Leaves

Marigold leaves can turn yellow for several reasons, the most common of which is overwatering or waterlogged soil. This can occur after excess watering or a long bout of rain but is also caused by incorrect soil type.

Clay soils hold onto too much water, keeping the roots consistently moist and not allowing oxygen to reach the roots. If they begin to turn soft and rot, the leaves of your Marigold may turn yellow as a result.

To prevent this problem, amend the soil with compost and plenty of sand before planting. If your Marigolds face root rot, they’re of more use on the compost heap. Plant out a few new plants for the season once the soil has been improved and take note for next year’s planting season.

For more, see our in-depth guide to watering marigolds.


Wilting can be caused by both extremes – heavy clay soil or excessively sandy soil.

As discussed, clay soils lead to root rot which turns the stems soft and causes the plants to wilt. On the other hand, lack of moisture means there is not enough water in the cells of the plant to maintain structure and cause the marigold to not reach their typical height, also leading to wilting.

Sandy soils are easy to amend with healthy amounts of compost before planting. Continue to maintain soil health by adding a layer of compost as a mulch in summer to break down over time. After a few seasons of planting, your soil quality should have improved dramatically.

Brown Leaves

Brown leaves indicate a more severe problem with sandy soil. Wilting is the first sign of a lack of water, with leaves slowly turning yellow and brown if the issue is not resolved.

This should not be an issue if you water your plants often enough. However, sandy soils that drain very quickly and don’t hold onto any water can lead a few leaves to turn brown. Amend with compost and water more often until conditions improve.

You may also need to prune or cut back marigolds that are past prime, or decaying. 


Yellow or brown spots on the leaves or between veins usually indicate a pest or disease issue. However, they can also be caused by nutrient deficiency. Test the soil for nutrient deficiencies before planting and add compost and a relevant fertilizer to improve fertility. Inappropriate marigold light conditions may also play a factor here. 

Marigold Soil FAQs

Do Marigolds prefer wet or dry soil?

Marigolds grow best when their soil is kept consistently moist but not soggy, meaning well-draining soil is a necessity.

How can I improve soil health around my Marigolds?

Add a layer of compost as a mulch around the plants in summer. This will retain moisture in the soil and slowly break down over time to improve soil health.

What should I add to the soil when planting Marigolds?

Depending on your soil type, you can add compost before planting to retain more moisture or sand to improve drainage. If the soil is the incorrect pH, add sulfur or lime to the soil to alter conditions.

Wrap Up

Marigolds are not too fussed about soil. But, giving them the perfect conditions – well-draining loam moderate to high in nutrients – will give you the best blooms possible from your plant.

For more, see our essential guide to everything you need to know about how to grow Marigolds.

Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

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.


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.

Comments are closed.