African Marigold

This species boasts some of the largest blooms in the marigold family.

Colorful Combinations

African marigolds have long been planted as an easy-to-grow annual that requires very little maintenance. Coming in warm colors of creamy white, yellow, orange, and rusty red, African marigolds can add a welcome pop of color all season long. Even without the blooms, they have attractive deep green foliage.

African Marigold Care Must-Knows

Marigolds have been grown for ages, back to the Cherokee tribe and Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Whether it's being used for its ornamental appeal or because it is part of a time-honored tradition, there are many uses for African marigold.

African marigolds need well-drained soils that won't stay wet for long because most marigolds are susceptible to rot and other soil-born fungal issues. Make sure your plants have a good amount of organic matter. They greatly benefit from regular fertilizer applications or a single application of a slow-release fertilizer.

Marigolds perform best in full sun, keeping tall plants sturdy and helping form large, dense blooms and foliage. However, in part shade or more, all parts of the plant are more susceptible to fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew. Avoid wetting the foliage, especially later in the day, to help prevent this problem. African marigolds are also susceptible to spider mites in the dry heat of the summer, so watch for fine webbing and treat with insecticidal soap as needed.

Deadheading the plants will encourage them to continue blooming for a more extended period as marigolds finish blooming. Deadheading also helps the plants focus their energy on flower production versus seed production. At the end of the year, if you want to collect seeds for next spring, leave some spent blooms and let them fully ripen, dry, and drop into the soil to seed. Take note that the seeds will produce plants that are genetically different from the parents, so there may be some variability in flower color and over plant growth.

New Innovations

It seems like there are always new varieties of African marigolds being introduced with improved plant growth. Breeders have focused on creating denser plants with larger, frillier blooms. There has also been increased production of marigolds for the use of lutein. This yellow compound is an essential chemical for eye health. Lutein is also a significant component in chicken feed, encouraging rich yellow egg yolks and golden skin of chicken meat.

More Varieties of African Marigold

African Marigold Overview

Description Thanks to their large pom-pom blooms in bright colors, African marigolds are sure to brighten up any garden space. Despite their common name of African marigolds, these plants are actually native to the Americas. These classic annuals are easily grown from seed and are much taller than their cousins, the French marigolds.
Genus Name Tagetes erecta
Common Name African Marigold
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 2 feet
Flower Color Orange, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

'Discovery Orange' marigold

'Discovery Orange' marigold
Laurie Dickson

Tagetes erecta 'Discovery Orange' bears bold orange flowers that reach 3 inches wide on compact, 1-foot-tall plants.

'Discovery Yellow' marigold

'Discovery Yellow' marigold
Peter Krumhardt

Tagetes erecta 'Discovery Yellow' bears big, 3-inch-wide bright yellow flowers on compact, 1-foot-tall plants all summer long.

'Taishan Gold' African marigold

'Taishan Gold' African marigold
Graham Jimerson

Tagetes erecta 'Taishan Gold' is a vigorous selection with strong stems that hold up better to wet weather than other varieties. It grows 12 inches tall and 10 inches wide.

African Marigold Companion Plants

French Marigold

french marigolds
Doug Hetherington

Just as you'd expect from something called French, these marigolds are the fancy ones. French marigolds tend to be frilly and some boast a distinctive "crested eye." They mature to roughly 8-12 inches high with a chic, neat, little growth habit and elegant dark green foliage. They do best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil and will flower all summer long. They may reseed, coming back year after year, in spots where they're happy.


Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'
Scott Little

One of the longest bloomers in the garden, coreopsis produces (usually) sunny yellow daisylike flowers that attract butterflies. Depending on the variety, Coreopsis also bears golden-yellow, pale yellow, pink, or bicolor flowers. It will bloom from early to midsummer or longer if it's deadheaded.

Mexican Sunflower

Butterfly on Mexican sunflower
Peter Krumhardt

Attract butterflies and have fun doing it with big, bold, beautiful Mexican sunflower. Plant it from seed directly in the ground and watch it soar. It can hit up to 5 feet in just weeks with big, lush foliage and smaller but still showy flowers in sunset colors that butterflies love. Put a cluster of these bodacious beauties in the back of the border for height and drama. Many of the taller types need staking to keep them upright. Plant them outdoors in a sunny spot with well-drained soil after all danger of frost has passed.

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