We live in a globally-interconnected world, and few flowers bear globalism’s seed more than marigolds.
The gloriously goldenrod marigolds are truly a flower that can and has been enjoyed on a global scale.
Originating in Central America, these flowers were taken from the Aztecs to Europe and Africa in the 1500s, soon becoming a sensation on several continents. Today, marigolds are popular from Mexico City to Marseilles to Mozambique and beyond.
Matching marigolds’ rich history is their famous golden hue itself. They rival even sunflowers for the brilliant shock of gold they can bring to a yard, garden, or home.
But just how big can marigolds grow, and what can you do to make sure you’re golden when growing these glories of your garden?
There are more than 50 different varieties of marigold, each of which is incredibly gold and able to retain that bloom for much of the year. If you are looking to add some year-round eye-catching vibrancy, marigolds can be a great choice.
Those 50 varieties are naturally broken down according to region, with some of the most popular being:
- Tagetes erecta: Evidencing just how wide the spread of these flowers are, these marigolds are alternatively known as African, American, and Mexican marigolds. They do a good job of flourishing even in dry conditions. These marigolds tend to be the straightest and tallest, and produce big bold blooms.
- Tagetes patula: Also known as French marigolds, these tend to be among the shorter, more compact, and bushier types of marigolds. This has the interesting side effect of them actually being wider than they are tall in some cases. They also tend to do better in rainier climates than other marigolds.
- Tagetes tenuifolia: Also known as signet marigolds, these are especially petite, so if you’re looking for mini-marigold options, these may be a good choice.
- Calendula officinalis: Also known as both pot and English marigolds, these are actually native to both England as well as Southern Europe. Adding to that confusion, it’s not a genuine marigold (as you might be able to tell from its scientific name being different from all the rest here) but it still looks remarkably like one, and is actually edible, featuring a peppery taste. If you’re looking to grow plants for the purposes of using them in your cooking, this might be a good alternative to traditional marigolds.
How Big Can Marigolds Grow?
Marigolds are not at all big behemoths, with the “tallest” being those African/American/Mexican Marigolds at just around three to four feet. For contrast, even hibiscuses, which are similarly small flowering plants, can grow to sizes of several times larger.
French marigolds can grow to between 6 inches to 2 feet, and signet marigolds rarely grow to over a foot tall.
Of course, how tall your marigolds grow is in part dictated by how well you take care of them, which is why you’ll want to take note of the tips below for growing your marigolds to their biggest height and best bloom possible.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Marigolds
Given the fact that they are originally from Central America and are native now to Western and Southern Europe as well as Africa, it should come as no surprise that marigolds are both drought tolerant and do well in wet conditions. This really gives you the best of both worlds planting-wise.
On the one hand, coming from such a hot climate, these plants are conditioned to do more with less if need be, but on the other hand, given how humid and moist Central America’s soil can be, these plants also flourish in wetter conditions.
By contrast, while some plants need shade, marigolds actually do worse and don’t bloom as well in such conditions.
Ideally, you should plant them in a sun-drenched area with reasonably fertile, well-drained soil.
Dig down at least six inches to make sure that the marigolds have enough space for their roots (and, conversely, if you want to control their spread, do the reverse and make sure their roots don’t have room to spread out).
French marigolds can be grown from a seed with ease, while African marigolds are a bit trickier, so you may want to buy them as young plants and pot them instead.
If you do plant seeds, try and space them out to at least an inch apart. However, the further apart you can space them, the better, as French and signet marigolds do best with eight to ten inches’ worth of space and African marigolds can require as much as a full foot apart.
Thankfully, marigolds aren’t picky eaters as far as plant nutrients are concerned. You can get away with adding a few inches of Miracle Grow or a similar basic fertilizer and they should grow just fine.
For the best results, add the fertilizer to the top layer (six to eight inches) of the native soil in which you are planting the marigolds.
Then there’s the question of how to water your marigolds.
As mentioned, marigolds are actually among the easiest plants to deal with in this regard because they both weather drought extremely well while also being quite happy in moist soil.
Check your soil on a weekly basis to see what kind of condition it’s in, and water your plants accordingly, giving them a healthy amount of water when you do water them.
If you choose to mulch your marigolds to try and keep them healthy and further control or stimulate growth, you’ll want to add a top layer of around two to three layers of things such as bagged mulch, pine straw, leaves, and similar organic material.
Marigolds are a great choice to introduce some yellow color into your garden without having to deal with a temperamental high-maintenance plant. As long as they get enough sunshine and water, they tend to be pretty easy to care for.
Even better, they can help repel unwanted pests from your garden.
By following these steps, you should be golden and be able to make your garden absolutely glorious with fresh marigolds.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.