Going into our tenth season as the owners of Belleisle Gardens, we’ve seen many new varieties of annuals come and go. One of the most “tried-and-true” plants that we have seen consistently sell well are marigolds. They are undoubtedly still very popular in many gardens.
This colorful annual gets sometimes overlooked by some gardeners because they are so easy to grow and are so readily available. I think when people think of marigolds, they automatically think of the classic orange flower planted in their grandmother’s garden…nowadays, marigolds are available in a variety of colors ranging from yellows and golds to flaming oranges to deep russets and reddish browns. They also come in various sizes from short to tall.
Different Marigold Species
Marigolds aren’t just the old-time favorite that you remember seeing in your grandmother’s garden. There are in fact 3 different species of marigold which each contain a multitude of different varieties.
French marigolds range in height from approximately 8 to 14 inches. Different varieties come in yellow, gold, orange, red and bi-colors. Generally, they bloom early and are quite a bushy plant. Their flower size is generally 1-2 inches and they can have single flowers or double flowers. Common french marigolds that we carry here at Belleisle Gardens are Janie Mix, Safari Mix and Disco Mix – they are virtually indestructible and provide long-lasting color in your garden.
This species of marigolds grows much taller and produces much larger flowers than its counterparts. It can grow 15-36 inches tall and produces large blooms 3-5 inches in width. Generally, african marigolds bloom later than french marigolds and they also range in color.
These marigolds are not as commonly known as the two other species. They are dainty little plants with small single flowers. The foliage produces a citrus scent when touched. Because they are such a compact plant, it makes them an ideal choice for edges or containers.
How to Grow Marigolds
Marigolds are very easy to grow and are perfect for kids that are just getting into gardening. Sow seed indoors a few weeks before the last frost or you can direct seed when the soil is warm enough. Marigolds thrive in full sun with average soil and moisture. Be sure to remove dead flowers to encourage more blooms.