African Marigold Plant – Guide to Growing and Caring

5 Min Read

Marigolds have flower heads like daisies or carnations that grow alone or in clusters. There are more than 50 species of marigold flowers that you can grow in your garden. The true annual, lasting only one season, is a member of the ester family, which has cultivators that give large yellow, orange, and creamy white colors on foliage such as green stems and ferns. These fragrant flowers brighten the gardens from early summer to frost. Despite being abundant, they are not invasive.

Enjoy plenty of flowers in just two months. Plant seeds or seedlings in the spring after the frost have passed. Make sure that African marigold plant flowers and juices are mildly poisonous; they can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

In this guide, I will discuss how to grow and maintain an African marigold plant in your garden.

Botanical name: Tagetes erecta

Height: 1 to 4 feet.

Sun exposure: Full

Soil type: sandy, loamy, well-drained

Soil pH: acidic, neutral

Bloom time: Summer, fall

Native area: North America, Central America

Cultivation and History

African marigold plant is native of Mexico and Central America. These plants are commonly popular for their huge flower heads and long flower stalks. In Mexico, this giant marigold is grown to adorn the altars of loved ones over hundreds of years.

African marigold plant thrives from early summer to late fall and usually grow in compact and sloping shapes, usually reaching a height of 12 to 20 inches, but some varieties can grow up to 48 inches in height.

Blooms are widely grown at around 3 inches, but some can grow up to 4 inches in diameter. They contain edible petals, but they are bitter with a sour taste.

The foliage is a sage green, with a little rough and lethargy leaves. In particular, orange varieties are really the opposite of the leaves.


African marigold can be propagated from seed or from a young nursery that will need to be transplanted into your garden. You can usually find year-round seeds online and in nurseries, or harvest them from mature plants for planting the following year.

How to grow African marigolds from seed?

The seeds are sown inside in a seed tray four to six weeks from your last frost date. You need to plant your seed around a quarter of an inch deep in the tray that is filled with a moist, sterile seed starting mix. I want to plant approximately three seeds per cell to enhance the quality of germination. After growing your seeds, grab a moisture dome and keep it on top of the tray or cover it in plastic.

Marigolds germinate very quickly; you will see them sprout in five to ten days. Place the tray in a sunny location with good lighting, and keep the soil moist for better growth. If you keep your plant in a sunny location, rotate your seed tray every two or three days to grow your seedling straight.

If there is more than one seedling per cell sprout, thin the seedlings. Move them out to harden your seedlings about a week before you plant them or put them out in your landscape — they need some time to adapt to the environment around them. Planting your seeds directly into the landscape can take place about two weeks after your average frost date.

Choose a safe and sunny place within your landscape to plant your seeds. If you choose a cultivar with a height of more than 16 inches, you may want to plant it in an area that is protected from strong winds, or you may have to risk it. Ensure that they grow in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Keep your seeds about 12 inches apart. Plant it around a quarter-inch deep, and give it plenty of water. For taller marigolds, only the right tools are needed for preventive stacking.

Locate the area grid over the planting area in the spring, and it will support the plants as they grow and bloom. You can also grow them in a container. Choose an eight-inch container per plant and a pot with good drainage. This will ensure that the hole is not blocked, allowing excess water to flow. Water well until excess water flows from the base of your vessel, and re-water whenever the top two inches of soil have dried.

From Seedlings

You can find seedlings and young plants of African marigold in local nurseries or garden centers in early spring. After two weeks from your last frost date, go out to harden whatever seedlings you have started. Backfill the well with a handful of compost and improve the soil with water.

How to grow

African Marigolds need full sunlight, regular watering, and a little fertilizer to keep the flowers strong until November. If you are gardening in Zone 8 and above, you may want to start fertilizing in early June or early September. 4-4-4 NPK fertilizer is the best choice for this plant to grow well. When it comes to fertilizing your marigolds, be careful not to add too much nitrogen to the soil, as this will result in plant growth and fewer flowers.

Growing Tips

  • Give fertile, well-drained soil with full sunlight.
  • Tall varieties may need to be planted, and you may want to plant them in a wind-protected area.
  • After flowering has started and again in September, apply slow-release fertilizer to areas 8 and above.

How to Care

These are fairly tall plants that can overturn, so it is common to cut the lower foliage and plant it deeper, using the knots where there is no leaves to create an additional strong root system. However, taller varieties may need to stake for additional support, especially if grown in an open, windy location.


They grow best under full sunlight, but they also tolerate partial shade. Ambiguous conditions can make the plant too leggy and more susceptible to falling.


They also grow well in poor soil. However, for the best results, give them well-drained and fertile soil. Moist soil and loam are suitable, although it is possible to grow them in dense, dry, gravelly soils. You need to maintain a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5 as they do not like extremely acidic soil.


Do not overwater, as the soil may fail to drain. It can cause drowning and root rot. It is best to allow the soil to dry completely between watering.

Humidity and temperature

African marigolds prefer warm and dry conditions. They tolerate heat and drought, thriving from summer to frost. Cold, humid conditions promote fungal and root rot diseases. African marigolds can barely survive the first light frost, and with temperatures below 40 degrees fern heat, the end is near.


Generally, African marigolds do not require too much fertilizer; they also grow best with good soil. In very poor soils, they may benefit by mixing in a few slow light fertilizers at the time of planting or by a few feedings with dilute liquid manure during the growing season. 5-10-5 is the best nitrogen fertilizer for these plants.

Common pests and diseases

Where African marigolds are generally less susceptible to insect damage, keep an eye on Japanese beetles, red spider mites, and snails. Use disinfectant soap as required.

Providing too much water and wetting foliage late in the day can cause fungal infections. They are susceptible to various diseases like powdery mildew, botrytis, and various leaf spots and root rots. You can use chemical fungicides, but it is best to remove the affected parts of the plant and ensure that the plants are properly watered and well ventilated. That will prevent most fungal diseases.

Finally, for knowing about ornamental and edible flowers, it is an easy way to learn about them for beginners. Here, you will find all the important information about the growing and caring of the African marigold plant. Additionally, they have several positive effects on everyone’s lives. So, everyone should try to learn about it.

Hope, you liked reading the guide. If you think we have missed something or have any suggestion, please drop your valuable opinion in the comment section below.

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