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Marigolds, also known as Tagetes, are half-hardy annuals and most can be divided into two groups - French marigolds and African marigolds. Although both have showy double flowers in tones of yellow, orange, mahogany and red, with some bicolours, they’re easy to tell apart - French marigolds are compact plants, ranging from 15cm/6in to 30cm/12in. African marigolds are much bigger, growing from 30cm/12in tall to 75cm/30in with flowers up to 12.5cm/5in across. They are not to be confused with the English or pot marigold, Calendula officinalis.
Both groups are used for different purposes, as their size dictates - French marigolds are idea for hanging baskets, pots, window boxes as well as bedding at the front of the border. African marigolds are only suitable for larger containers and as bedding in the middle of beds. Both types will flower from June to October. Read more
How to grow Marigolds
Sow indoors from February-April at a temperature of 18-21°C/65-70°F, at a depth of 0.5cm/ 1/4in deep in trays of good-quality seed compost. Once at the 2-4 leaf stage, thin out and pot on into modules. Harden off and plant out from late May, after the last frosts, spacing plants 23cm/9in apart for French marigolds and 30cm/12in apart for African marigolds.
Seeds can also be sown outdoors from April-May, thin out as necessary to final planting distances.
Marigolds like moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Keep plants moist to avoid attacks of powdery mildew. Encourage more flowers by deadheading regularly. In exposed windy locations taller African marigolds with heavy flower heads may need to be staked with short bamboo canes. Place canes around the plants while they are still young with a network of twine woven across them so they can grow through without the supports looking too obtrusive.
Did You Know?
French marigolds, with their pungent aroma, are said to deter common insect pests, including aphids and whitefly. They're often used as companion plants for tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and potatoes. Due to the antibacterial thiophenes exuded by the roots, Tagetes should not be planted near any legume crop (pea and bean family). Show less