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How to Plant Marigold

With their bright colors and frilly foliage, marigolds add a fun pop of color to any flower bed. These lovely flowers are well known for their pungent aroma and ease of growing.

If planting marigold is on your gardening list this year, keep reading! This guide is all about how to plant marigold. From planting seeds to caring for plants as they grow and everything in between, you’ll learn how to grow marigolds from start to finish.

Whether you’re interested in starting marigolds from seed or purchasing starter plants, this guide has you covered. Let’s get right to it.

Yellow African marigold flowers.

Why Plant Marigold

There are lots of reasons to plant marigolds! If the bright flowers alone aren’t enough reason, here are a few more.

Prevent Pests

Marigolds have a reputation for preventing pests, and for good reason! That’s because it actually works. Unwanted pests like mosquitos, squash bugs, and cabbage worms don’t like the smell of marigolds.

French marigolds. Picking your seed variety is the first step of how to plant marigold flowers.

Planting them near your garden is a great deterrent to keep these pesky bugs away from your plants.

Attract Pollinators

Even though many bugs don’t like the smell of marigolds bees and butterflies don’t seem to mind it! Bees are especially attracted to varieties of marigolds that have an open center so they can easily reach the pollen.

Different Kinds of Marigolds

There are many different types of marigolds. The three most commonly grown in the United States are African marigolds, French marigolds, and signet marigolds.

African Marigolds

Orange African marigolds.

Also called American marigold or Mexican marigold, these marigolds grow in a shrub-like shape. They have large, full blooms of frilly petals. The flower heads can grow up to six inches across.

African marigold blooms are usually orange or yellow but you can also find them in shades of red and even white.

French Marigolds

A French marigold blossom.

French marigolds are smaller than the African variety with blooms about two inches wide. They may have a single row of petals or multiple rows.

French marigolds come in several different colors including red, orange, yellow, or a mix of colors.

Signet Marigolds

Yellow-orange signet marigolds.

These marigolds are a dwarf variety. The plants only grow about 9-12 inches tall with small, daisy-like blooms.

Signet Marigolds are native to North America. Their scent is more mild and citrusy than the other varieties of marigolds.

Growing Conditions for Marigolds

Marigolds aren’t too picky about their planting location. They grow well in a variety of conditions which makes it easy for us gardeners! You can plant marigolds in containers, in raised garden beds, or directly in the ground.


Marigolds thrive in all kinds of soil conditions. They prefer moderately fertile, well-draining soil with a neutral pH between 6.0 and 7.0. They aren’t too picky though so whatever you have will probably work.

Adding organic matter like compost or aged manure is a good way to improve soil health and make sure your plants have plenty of nutrients. Other fertilizers typically aren’t needed when planting marigolds.


Marigolds do best in full sun. Plant them in a location where they’ll receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Afternoon shade can be beneficial if you live in a very hot climate, especially during the summer months.

Temperature and Weather

Marigolds grow best in warm weather. Wait to plant them until after all danger of frost has passed. Extreme heat in summer can cause marigold flowers to slow down. They usually start blooming again when temperatures ease up in early fall.

How to Plant Marigold Seeds

Marigold seedlings.

Starting marigolds from seed is simple both indoors and outdoors. The seeds germinate easily and grow quickly giving you abundant blooms in a matter of weeks. You’ll love seeing the blooms in your garden from this French marigold mix sold by Hoss Tools!

Starting Marigold Seeds Indoors

Starting marigold seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start on your garden. Seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the weather is right to plant outside giving you earlier blooms.


To start marigold seeds indoors you’ll need some basic seed starting equipment. A container to plant in, seed starting mix, and seeds are essential. The other tools are helpful additions but not always necessary if you have something on hand that will work.

Seedling Starting Equipment

Hoss Germination Mat

Indoor Seed Starting Light Kit

SunGrow Black Gold Seed Starting Mix

Potting Mix

48 Cell Seed Starting Kit

Small Containers

Gardening Gloves

Garden Shovel

Spray Bottle

Watering Can

Garden Labels

How to Start Marigold Seeds indoors

Fill your container or seed starting trays with seed starting mix. I recommend using seed starting mix to start seeds because it’s the best growing medium for helping seeds germinate. Potting soil is better after seedlings grow a bit and are ready for more nutrients.

If you want to learn more about when and why to use each of these products, we have an article all about the differences between potting soil and seed starting mix.

Sprinkle a few marigold seeds on top of the mix in each container or cell in the seed tray and gently work them in. The seeds should be planted no more than 1/8 of an inch deep so just barely cover them.

Water thoroughly with a spray bottle. Spray bottles are ideal for watering seedlings because the spray is gentle and won’t disturb or displace the seeds.

Thin the marigolds to one plant per cell or container when the seedlings develop their first set of true leaves.

A starter tray of marigold seedlings.

If you started with seed trays, move the plants into larger containers when they’re about an inch tall.

Direct Sowing Marigold Seeds

Sprinkle the seeds over the soil and gently work them in with your hands or a hand rake. Make sure to wear gloves when working with soil.

Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist while seeds are germinating and for a few weeks after they emerge.

When seedlings have their first seed of true leaves, thin the plants to about a foot apart.

Planting Marigold Seedlings

Marigold starter plants ready for transplanting.

Starting marigolds from seed is simple but if you’d rather start with plants, purchasing starter plants is a practical option.

Individual pots or six-packs of small starter plants are relatively inexpensive from many nurseries and garden centers. They’re widely available in early spring when stores start setting out their garden plants so they’re usually easy to find.

How to Plant Marigolds in the Garden

Choose a sunny location and dig a hole in the soil. The hole should be about twice the size of the root ball of your seedling. Place the seedling in the hole and fill in around the plant with soil.

Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist for a few weeks until the plant is well established.

Caring for Marigold

Learning how to care for your plants is even simpler than learning how to plant marigold! Marigolds are some of the easiest plants to care for. They hardly need any attention at all in order to thrive.


While plants are getting established make sure to give them regular water. This helps the plants develop strong roots. After a few weeks, marigolds are drought tolerant and don’t need much water. Rainfall is often enough to keep them happy and healthy.

If you have a prolonged period without rain, it’s a good idea to water marigolds once in a while. They bloom best when they have adequate water so you don’t want to let them get too dry.

If you’re not sure whether or not the plants need water, check the soil. If the top inch of soil is dry, they need water. If it’s moist, no water is necessary!

How to Water

When you do water marigolds, use a watering can or hose to apply water at the base of the plant. Overhead watering leaves foliage damp which can lead to fungal disease.

A single petal layer French marigold flower.


Fertilizer usually isn’t necessary for marigolds. They thrive in all kinds of soil and don’t need a lot of nutrients. Too much fertilizer results in increased foliage growth at the expense of flowers.

if you have very poor soil it may be beneficial to add a bit of balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Apply fertilizer when blooms appear and reapply about once a month. Remember, don’t over-do it or you’ll end up with lots of foliage and not many blooms.


If you’re not familiar with the term, deadheading is when you remove dead flower heads from a plant after the blooms begin to fade and die.

Many flowers benefit from regular deadheading, including marigolds. It’s one of the best things you can do to get regular blooms. As soon as you start to see flowers fade, trim them off with a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears.


Mulch is beneficial in many ways. It keeps the soil moist, prevents weeds, and adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down. Straw, grass clippings, and composted wood chips are all good options for mulching around marigolds.

Wrapping up How to Plant Marigold

Closeup of yellow-orange marigolds.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, learning how to plant marigold is something anyone can do. With these tips your flower beds will be in full bloom in no time!

For more seed starting tips and guides, visit the Seed Starting page on our website. There you’ll find how to guides, product recommendations, and plenty of tips and tricks to get your garden growing. Whether you’re growing flowers, vegetables, herbs, or all of the above we have the resources to help.