How to grow American Marigolds in garden

In this blog, we will discuss how to grow American Marigolds in a balcony garden. Also, we will see what are the different types of Marigold plants available? How do I grow my very own American Marigolds in the garden? And Caring for the Marigold plants.

American Marigolds

The earliest use of marigolds was by the Aztec people who attributed magical, religious, and medicinal properties to the plant. They considered it a sacred flower and used it for decorative and medicinal purposes.

The flowers are also edible and the Aztecs believed that they could cure hiccups and even heal those who were struck by lightning!

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It is believed that in the 16th century, marigold seeds were taken from the Aztecs to Spain. Soon they were wildly cultivated in Spain and grown around monastery gardens. From Spain, the seeds were taken to France and Northern Africa.

A taller species of marigolds were cultivated and now known as the African-American marigold, became naturalized in North Africa, and soon spread around the world.

The Marigold is wildly cultivated in India and Thailand, especially the species T. Erecta, and T. Patula. They are often found in local markets for daily worship and religious rituals.

Marigolds are profusely used in making garlands and decoration pieces for religious events and festivals as well as for weddings across Asia.

Marigolds cultivation is extensively seen in various states of India particularly during the Diwali festival period.

In Mexico and Latin America, marigold flowers are used to decorate household altars to celebrate All Saints Day or All Souls Day rather popularly known as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Flower heads are scattered on relatives’ graves and it is believed that the spirits of the dead visit the living during this festival. Marigolds guide the spirits to their altars using the power of their vibrant colors and pungent scent.

This vibrant sunny flower is one of the most beautiful and useful creations. Its yellow and orange hues can surely add a splash of brightness and color to your balcony or garden.

This carefree flowering plant continues to bring joy and great health benefits to those who choose to use them correctly.

The marigold is truly a symbol of passion and creativity and can bring positive vibrations into your life and your environment.

Types of Marigold plants

It is known that there are more than 50 species of Marigold plants that exist all around the world.

The Marigold plants belong to the family of Asteraceae which is a very large and widespread family of flowering plants that include other species of flowers like the Chrysanthemums and Dahlias, also food crops like Lettuce and Chicory and herbs like Chamomile.

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Before going to how to grow American Marigolds in garden, let us see a few of the most common varieties of the Marigold plants are mentioned below –

1. The French Marigolds (Tagetes Patula)

The French Marigolds can grow anywhere between 5 inches to 18 inches in height with flowers smaller than usual at around 2 inches across, with either single or double flower heads.

Their flowers bloom in colors of mahogany-red, orange, and yellow with red and orange bicolor patterns.

French Marigolds are rather sturdy flowers and can do well indoors in containers and window boxes. They are also ideal outdoor plants for edging flowerbeds and placement in mass plantings. This type of marigold blooms in the fall and the summer.

The best temperature for the French Marigold to bloom in is anything between 21 to 24 degrees Celsius.

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Within the French Marigold group, there are various varieties like Bonanza Marigolds, Janie Marigolds, Hero Marigolds, Safari Marigolds, Queen Sophia, and Gold Gate Marigolds, Boy Marigolds, Early Spice Marigold, etc.

Once you have planted the seeds of your French Marigold, you will soon notice it sprouting within a week or two but having said that you must also be careful about slugs, snails, beetles, and other pests that can destroy them.

French marigolds are a popular variety within the species mainly due to their lack of demanding nature. They are quite easy to care for and are often a choice of preference for plant lovers as they grow with the least difficulty and can bloom in 3 out of 4 seasons.

Being one of the most versatile plants that exist, the French Marigold flowers are often used to make perfumes and exquisite food products as well.

The French Marigolds (Tagetes Patula) compared to others in its species are smaller and bushier plants. They have longer blooming seasons in comparison to the African Marigolds (American Marigolds). The French Marigolds bloom from spring until frost and also hold up much better during rainy weather.

Plant spacing varies from 6 to 9 inches for the French marigolds in comparison to the African(American) Marigolds varieties that are taller and can go up to 18 inches and need to be spaced about 10 to 12 inches apart.

2. The Signet Marigolds (Tagetes Tenuifolia)

The Signet Marigolds are quite different from most marigolds. They produce compact plants with finely divided, lacy foliage and clusters of small, edible single flowers that are known to literally cover the entire plant in the summer. The foliage has a pleasant lemon fragrance.

They have yellow to orange colored, edible flowers that have a spicy tarragon flavor. Signet Marigolds are excellent plants for edging flower beds. They do exceptionally well indoors too when grown and maintained in window boxes.

What makes these marigolds so unique is their edible nature. Many people are known to sprinkle marigold flower petals over their salads to add a sweet taste to them.

Hence, The Signet Marigold plant can be a part of both your regular garden as well as your herb garden. You will find many recipes on the internet that include the marigold flower.

The flowers are curvy and round and they must be planted at a site where they receive plenty of sunlight. Their soil should be moist but not necessarily rich and fertile as this can result in fewer blooms and weakness in the overall structure of the plant.

There are three basic planting options available to home gardeners when planting this species of marigolds.

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Signet Marigold seeds can be sown directly outdoors after the dangers of the frost has passed or can be started indoors with a minimum of 6 weeks gap prior to the prediction of the last frost. Full sun and well-drained soil are a must when planting marigolds.

A few advantages of the Signet Marigolds are that they are delicate creatures with lacy, lemon-scented foliage hence they are edible and loved. Their look and delicacy is admired universally and not only by plant lovers.

Their growth can be sped up if it starts to slow down in the mid-summer season by pruning them back by about one-third so that additional blooms have space to appear once the cool weather returns.

Within the Signet Marigold group, there are different types most popular in the United States, like the following –

  • Lemon Gem Marigold – they grow approximately one foot in height, are bright yellow in color, and can bloom all summer long
  • Red Gem Marigold – a smaller plant in comparison but bloom with bright red flowers
  • Spanish Tarragon Marigolds – they usually grow up to 3 ft in height and have small clusters of flowers that bloom in the fall season and are known to be anise-flavored.
  • Irish Lace Marigolds – they are short plants that contain rather tiny white flowerets and leaves that appear lacey. Their leaves are dark and beautiful and they are truly eye-catching.
  • Paprika Gem Marigold – This type of Signet Marigolds can also bloom in a unique maroon variety with yellow edges. They are known to be citrusy in scent, can add beautiful color to any garden or balcony, and when grown in full they produce beautiful flowers all summer long.

The Signet Marigold variety are overall low-maintenance flowers that are loved by most people around the world, especially since you can use them for both beautifications and to cook up a wide range of scrumptious and aesthetically pleasing dishes

If the soil appears dry, it is time to water the plant. Removing old blooms can help in the growth of new and fuller blooms.

Once the blooms are full, you can remove and use them for culinary purposes, to add flavor and color to multiple dishes, or as best suited to your needs and desires.

3. The Pot Marigold (Calendula Officinalis)

The Calendula officinalis is known by many names around the world. They can be referred to as The Scotch Marigold, The Common Marigold, or popularly The Pot Marigold. They have cheerful and bright flowers that originate from the European and Mediterranean regions.

They are easy to grow, hardy, and drought-resistant plants. They bear semi-double flowers in shades of yellow, orange, cream, and bronze with medium-sized light green leaves.

The flowers are the part of the herb ‘Calendula’ that is used medicinally around the world in the form of liquid extracts, creams, oils, and ointments. They are infused in a number of skin and hair products available on shelves across the globe.

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The Calendula flowers have been used for centuries to treat a number of clinical conditions, focusing on the treatment of dermatological disorders.

The Calendula flower has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and antioxidant qualities that help with wound healing and provide hydration, repair, and growth of the human skin tissue.

The oil extracted from The Calendula Officinalis is often used for acne, wounds, eczema, diaper rash, psoriasis, protection from the sun, basically in improving the general quality of the skin.

The Calendula belongs to the Asteraceae family and though they are from the same species as the Tagetes genes, they often cause confusion due to their similar names. It is to be noted that they are definitely not medicinally interchangeable.

These edible flowers tend to attract bees and butterflies. Calendula officinalis cannot tolerate intense heat and dies out during hot and humid weather. Though known to thrive in just about any soil, like most plants, it prefers to have soil that is not overly dry or wet.

The petals have a strong spicy flavor and are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. A cup of Calendula herbal tea can ease and ignite your senses all at once!

4. The American Marigold (Tagetes Erecta)

The American Marigold, also known as The Aztec Marigold or The African Marigold is a tall and, erect-growing houseplant that can grow up to three feet (36 inches) in height. Its flowers are rather large in size and shaped like a globe.

They can measure up to 5 inches in diameter (across) and come in a color range of creamy white to primrose yellow to pumpkin-orange to starry golden.

Their beauty is unsurpassed and to the eyes, they bring a wealth of gold, copper, and brass into our gardens. Red Marigolds do not appear in this variety of marigolds.

In comparison to The French Marigolds, The American Marigolds usually take longer to reach their flowering stage and are far more tolerant of dry weather as compared to the French. This annual plant is hardy, erect, sturdy, and beautiful.

Its leaves are pinnate, feather-like and the leaflets are lanceolate and serrated. These plants have very large blooms and hence they are considered perfect for floral arrangements and decorations purposes.

Similar to other Marigold species, The American Marigold grows best at a spot that is dry, warm, and sunny.

The Aztecs were known to use this plant for decorative, ceremonial, and medicinal purposes just like we continue to do today.

The flowers were used as a yellow dye and a means to add color and flavor to a variety of dishes and some of these tricks are still being practiced today in certain parts of the world.

The Aztec Marigolds have also been used as scents for different perfumes. The petals when grounded into powder can be used to dye food items such as egg yolks and broiler skins, making them just as effective as any commercially store-bought dye.

These tall “American”, “African” or “Aztec” Marigolds are annual plants native to Mexico. They go by the name Tagetes Erectica in the botanical world. They are known to be truly one of the most eco-friendly and non-fussy of their species.

These marigolds get their botanical name from the Etruscan prophet who is believed to have sprung up from ploughed land.

The reason for this could be due to the ease with which these marigold plants grow in almost any condition. These marigold flowers have a strong but peculiar scent that helps to ward off animals like deers and rabbits as well as other animals that might otherwise infest the garden.

These flashy flowers are the biggest and boldest of the marigolds and due to their easy-going nature, they are gaining fast popularity across the globe.

The commonly used name in English that is ‘Marigold’, is originally derived from the term ‘Mary’s Gold’, a name first applied to the Calendula Officinalis, which is a similar plant that is native to Europe.

As annual plants, each year this species of marigold plants sprout on their own either by the seeds that they have produced from the previous year or miraculously by the stems that regrow from the stumps that are already present in the soil.

How do I grow American Marigolds in the garden?

Now let us see how to grow American Marigolds in garden.

Mentioned below are a few simple and easy tricks that can ensure optimum growing conditions required for a healthy and lush American Marigold plant.

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Weather conditions: The American marigold thrives best in warm weather and full sunshine. In fact, when planted in shade or in a cool and moist environment they tend to get powdery mildew on their leaves which then leads to arresting its blooms.

They can also handle reflected light (indirect light) and will do fine even in partial shade. During severe winter months, these flowers are killed and blackened.

Soil: Living up to its reputation of being an easy-going plant, the American marigold is not fussy about its soil type. They are adaptable to different types of soil conditions and thus can be grown successfully in a wide variety of soils.

All it really needs is well-fertilized soil with a good drainage system. The soil needs to be prepared by digging 6 inches deep to loosen it and should be free of pellets and stones.

Well-drained loamy soil with a pH level of 7.0 to 7.5 is found to be best suitable for this species. You must be aware of not using any saline and acidic soils for this plant.

Planting: While planting its seeds in the moist soil, you must place them at a distance of a minimum of 1 inch each, while maintaining the depth of one inch in the soil.

When using the plants seedling, you must maintain a distance of at least 10 to 12 inches as The American Marigolds tend to grow big and bushy.

To avoid crowding, you need to be all the more careful if the potting is being done in a pot or window container.

In the case of transplanting them in a garden, you must remember to water the replanted marigolds thoroughly after the procedure, and if in a container use a soil-based potting mix.

A word of caution, however, is that while replanting you must ensure that the job is done when there is no direct sunlight falling on the plants as this will only traumatize them.

Marigolds sprout within days in the warm weather and the flowers bloom in about 8 weeks.

This is how we can grow American Marigolds in garden.

Marigolds used often termed as ‘Companion plants’

It is to be noted that The American Marigolds make excellent bedding plants. They are known to be very popular as companion plants. Farmers grow Marigolds alongside their vegetables and crops to save them from getting infected by insects.

The Marigolds roots exude an antibacterial substance that repels these unwanted creatures that destroy healthy vegetables and crops.

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Farmers and gardeners have long known the fact that marigolds make important companion plants all over the garden.

The underground workings of the American and French Marigold varieties are in particular known to repel insects like the damaging nematodes (microscopic worms). These worms tend to attack the roots of garden vegetables.

To take advantage of this effect, you must not plant The Marigolds directly alongside the vegetables. The Marigolds should be planted as a mass planting in the spring season while being placed in a spot where a gardener would in fact plant his fall crops.

In mid to late summer, The Marigolds should be removed and replaced with the vegetables and greens ready for the fall harvest.

Caring for the Marigold plant

We know how to grow American Marigolds in the garden, now let us see how to care for marigold plants.

Once your Marigold plant has been established, it is necessary to trim and pinch the top of the plant from time to time, in order for it to become bushy and healthy. The plant would then look lush and would bloom well.

Deadheading is another process that must be followed regularly if you notice that the flowers are dying often. The process of deadheading extends the Marigold flowers life span quite remarkably. It is a simple procedure that encourages the plant to produce more flowers.

While watering the Marigold plant, you must pay attention to the soil ensuring that it is appearing dry in between the watering intervals. To avoid rotting keep the Marigold plant away from excessive water and moist areas.

The watering should not be done from the top and avoiding the process of fertilizing during the plant’s growth period also helps. On the contrary, to how the nitrogen in the fertilizer enriches the foliage of the Marigolds, it can also prove detrimental for its flowers.

It would be a good idea to add a layer of mulch between the plants to suppress the growth of wild weeds.

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The effects of Pests and Diseases

Overall the Marigold plant faces very few pests’ problems; having said that, sometimes spider mites and aphids can infest these plants.

Usually, a simple solution of spraying water or an application of insecticidal soap which could be repeated frequently for a week or two would get rid of the problem. In extreme wet conditions, the Marigold plant is prone to fungal infections. 

To avoid this, do not water the plant’s leaves, remove the weeds regularly, and ensure that the soil is well-drained.

While Marigolds are seldom bothered by insects and diseases, they are definitely not problem-free. Spider mites can devastate marigolds in hot, dry weather. Grasshoppers can also cause considerable damage. Aster Yellows is an occasional disease problem.

The multi-faceted and easy-going personality coupled with the beauty of these Marigold plants makes them rather endearing.

As an integral part of our lives, the Marigolds are omnipresent in our daily routine whether it is our medicines, beauty products, as herbal teas, garnishing our salads and soups, using its bright colors as a dye, or decorating our environment during festivities, this flower does not fail to add a splash of color into our lives.

I hope this blog helps to learn how to grow American Marigolds in garden.

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