French Marigolds

French marigolds are an easy to grow annual that will bloom brightly all summer long. It is a cheerful flower bed plant and can also be an excellent addition to a vegetable garden. One of three types of marigold commonly grown in the UK garden, French marigolds are shorter and more compact than the African variety, commonly growing to between 6 inches and 2 feet in height.

Growing marigolds:

Marigolds need a good amount of sunshine and are best planted in full sun in a moderately fertile, well drained soil, though they will cope with most soil conditions. Marigolds are frequently bought as small plants from a garden centre and planted out in the garden as soon as the soil has warmed up in the spring, but they can also be grown relatively easily from seed.

When growing marigolds from seed, the main problem encountered is damping off. Water from beneath and keep soil moist but not waterlogged. Allow soil to dry out somewhat between waterings. When the seeds germinate successfully, growth will be rapid and the blooms can appear in as little as a few weeks.

Marigolds can be planted out in garden beds and will also thrive in pots filled with a soil mix. As long as they get enough sunshine they will grow just about anywhere, so are perfect not only for those with big gardens but also those who have little space.

It is best not to fertilise marigolds in any way as this will make the plants create bushy leaves instead of blooms. If you deadhead spend blooms throughout the season then you will be rewarded by beautiful flowers for several months. If the weather is not too extreme then Marigolds will flower well into autumn.

If you are cutting flowers for use in flower arrangements, be sure to remove the leaves that are below the water – this will prevent the flowers from smelling too pungent.

Why grow marigolds in the garden?

Marigolds are something of a miracle worker in terms of companion planting. The scent of the flowers can repel animals and insects and what is more, under the ground, marigolds can repel nematodes and other pests from an area for up to three years. They should be planted everywhere for a healthy organic garden.

Marigolds will also be a trap crop for slugs and snails which will attack them and spare nearby vegetables.

Marigold petals can impart the colour (though not the flavour) of saffron to cooked rice.

Those who enjoy flower arrangements in the house can dry marigolds for long lasting displays.

Due to the fact that marigolds are fairly robust and easy to grow they are perfect for encouraging children to enjoy gardening and can encourage them to continue with their own garden patches. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Tagetes patula