Planting Guide - Marigold Seeds
Growing Marigolds in Your Garden
Marigolds are split into two different types, African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) and French Marigold (Tagetes patula). The French varieties offer a pompom-type head and feathered, fern-like leaves. In addition to their beauty, they produce the nematode-repelling substance that protects both vegetable as well as ornamental plants. African varieties are usually taller and available in a wider variety of colors and characteristics. Though they don’t offer the nematode defense system, African varieties give that pungent marigold trademark aroma and will work as a pest repellant by masking the delicious scent of vegetables that are irresistible to insect pests.
When & How to Plant Marigold Seeds
Probably one of the most commonly planted annuals in the world, Marigolds are a fantastic variety to begin as they were, most likely, the first seed you may have planted as a child. Novice or veteran, we keep coming back to Marigolds as our dependable garden stalwart as they are one of the most adaptable, versatile and incredibly useful plants out there.
Marigolds can be started indoors about 50-60 days before your last frost date. Start with a tray or pot filled with damp potting mix, sprinkle seeds on top and cover with ¼” of soil. Cover your container with a clear lid or clear plastic film. Keep your containers warm for 3-4 days until you see germination. Once the marigold seedlings appear, move your tray or pots to a location where the seedlings will get at least five hours or more of light each day. The light can be from an artificial source. As the seedlings grow, keep your potting soil damp by watering from below. Once the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into their own pots where they can continue to grow indoors until all danger of frost has passed. Begin hardening off your marigold plants in preparation for outdoor planting.
For direct-sow areas, you can seed directly in the ground and cover with about ¼” soil and water thoroughly.
Once marigold flowers are planted, they need very little in the way of care. If they are planted in the gound, you only need to water them if the weather has been very dry for more than two weeks. If they are in containers, water them daily as containers will dry out quickly. Water soluble fertilizer can be given to them once a month, but to be honest, they will do as well without fertilizer as they do with it.
In general, all marigolds adapt well to sub-par soils. While most gardeners are always striving to improve their garden beds, marigolds are going to grow – regardless. They enjoy full sun and hot days and grow well in dry or moist soil. This hardiness is one of the reasons that they are often used throughout the garden for so many years.
Once established and healthy, marigolds will continue growing easily, even if left unattended. Water to keep the soil moist.
Possible Problems with Growing Marigolds
Marigolds have few problems with insect pests. Keep an eye out for slugs, which can decimate the plants overnight. Monitor closely and treat with Sluggo if damage is found. Spray soft-bodied pests like aphids and spider mites with a spray bottle of soapy water.
Marigolds will bloom prolifically summer through fall. You can increase the number of blooms and the length of blooming time by deadheading spent blossoms.
Preparing for Next Season
French Marigolds are often used as a cover crop to treat an area that has severe nematode problems. If you do, consider planting French marigolds en masse in a garden bed which you plan on using the following year.