How to Plant and Grow French Marigold

Count on this annual to churn out colorful flowers all summer long.

A garden favorite for their brightly-colored flowers, French marigolds are easy to grow and care for. These heat-loving annuals last the entire growing season, blooming away until frost. French marigolds typically come in warm shades of oranges, yellows, and reds. Some varieties have a single row of petals, while others have pom-pom-like, petal-packed double blooms. Plus, it seems like there is a new marigold shade or petal type introduced each year.

Plant breeders are always looking for ways to make this plant do just a little more. A recent innovation was a color breakthrough—the first pink marigold. They are also finding ways to make varieties that are more disease-resistant, longer-blooming, and have bigger blooms.

French Marigold Overview

Genus Name Tagetes patula
Common Name French Marigold
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 6 to 24 inches
Width 6 to 18 inches
Flower Color Orange, Red, 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, Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant French Marigolds

French marigolds grow in full sun and thrive in hot summers. While they are somewhat more tolerant of wet conditions than African marigolds, they won't bloom well in cool and moist areas. These annuals are cheerful additions to garden beds and borders and are excellent container plants.

How and When to Plant French Marigolds

French marigolds can be purchased as nursery plants or grown from seed.

Set out nursery plants early in the spring after the last frost in a location that receives full sun and has well-draining soil. French marigold plants should be planted somewhat deeper than they are in their nursery containers and spaced 9 to 18 inches apart, depending on variety.

Start French marigolds from seed by starting them indoors four to six weeks before the end of winter in seed-starting mix. Cover them with a scant 1/4 inch of soil and moisten them. They need a warm area of about 70°F to 75°F to germinate. After they are sown, seedlings pop up in a week or two. Transplant them into the garden after the last frost. The seed can also be sown directly into a garden bed after all danger of frost has passed.

french marigold
Doug Hetherington .

French Marigold Care Tips

Often one of the first plants a child grows, these low-maintenance annuals are super easy to care for!


French marigolds perform best in full sun, which is necessary for the plant to form large, dense blooms and lush foliage. If they are planted anywhere other than full sun, the plant will live, but flower production is severely affected.

Soil and Water

French marigolds do best in well-drained soil that doesn't stay wet for long periods. Add compost to the soil for the best drainage.

Temperature and Humidity

Hot summer temperatures pose no problem for French marigolds. The optimum flower production occurs when the temperature is in the 68°F to 75°F range, but the plant continues to bloom outside this range, just not as profusely. They tolerate a wide humidity range. If the summer is especially humid, they might develop powdery mildew.


Unless the garden soil is rich or can be amended before planting, dig in a slow-release granular fertilizer to support the plants. They likely won't need any more fertilizer than that. Overfertilization results in increased foliage, not flowers.

If you feel your plants need a boost mid-season, apply a liquid plant fertilizer that is low in nitrogen, following the product instructions.


Annual marigolds don't need pruning, but as a marigold's flowers fade, pick them off to focus the plant's energy on making more flowers rather than making seeds.

Potting and Repotting French Marigolds

Small French marigolds are excellent selections for pots that remain outside in the summer. Unless they are moved inside before the first frost, they will die along with any in-ground marigolds. Plant them in a container with good drainage and lightweight potting mix. A 6-inch pot is big enough for one French marigold, or two or three plants can fit in a 12-inch pot. Don't crowd the plants; they need good air circulation. They also need at least six hours of sunlight daily, so place them in a south-facing window. Repotting is usually not necessary.

Pests and Problems

When French marigolds are planted in part shade, they are likely to get fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew. Marigolds are also prone to spider mites in the dry heat of the summer, so watch for fine webbing and treat with insecticidal soap as needed.

How to Propagate French Marigolds

At the end of the year, if you want to collect seeds for the following spring, leave a few spent blooms on the plants and allow them to fully ripen and dry. Start them indoors six weeks before the end of winter in seed-starting mix. Note that harvested seeds produce plants that are genetically different from the hybrid parents, so there may be some variability in flower color and overall plant growth.

If you want identical plants, order seed or live plants from a nursery.

Types of French Marigolds

Disco Queen Marigold

Disco Queen marigold
Ed Gohlich

Tagetes patula 'Disco Queen' produces orange-red flowers ringed in yellow on long-blooming plants that grow 1 foot tall and wide.

Durango Red Marigold

Durango Red marigold
Paul Vandevelder

Tagetes patula 'Durango Red' produces orange-red flowers all summer long on plants that grow 1 foot tall and wide.

Little Devil Fire Marigold

Little Devil Fire marigold
Marty Baldwin

Tagetes patula 'Little Devil Fire' bears double red-and-yellow flowers on compact plants that grow only 8 inches tall and wide.

Striped Marvel Marigold

Striped Marvel marigold
Peter Krumhardt

Tagetes patula 'Striped Marvel' offers bold burgundy-and-gold striped blossoms on mounded plants.

Yellow Gate Marigold

Yellow Gate marigold
Peter Krumhardt

Tagetes patula 'Yellow Gate' bears 3-inch-wide blooms atop rounded, 10- to 12-inch-tall plants.

French Marigold Companion Plants


Bidens flowers
Andy Lyons

Bidens is a perfect container plant. It spills down the edges of window boxes, large pots, and planters with starry, yellow flowers and ferny, green foliage. Some varieties are fragrant, so plant them where you can enjoy their sweet scent. Bidens likes rich, well-drained but moist soil. While it's a perennial in Zones 8-10, it's usually grown as an annual.

Moss Rose

pink moss roses
Julie Maris Semarco

Moss rose is the gardener's choice for the hottest, driest, most problematic spots in the garden—even a clay strawberry pot in full sun. This succulent plant thrives in heat, drought, and lousy soil, rewarding gardeners with nonstop color. Coming in sunny warm reds, oranges, magentas, and yellows, moss rose looks at home in a sun-drenched area. There's also a whole pastel color palette for moss rose—creamy white, pink, and peach varieties. It often happily reseeds, coming back every year with gusto.


pink zinnias
Peter Krumhardt

Want fast color for just pennies? Plant zinnias! A packet of seeds will fill an area with gorgeous flowers in an amazing array of shapes and colors—even green! And it will happen in just weeks. There are dwarf types of zinnias, tall types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, multicolor, special seed blends for cutting, special blends for attracting butterflies, and more. Zinnias are so highly attractive to butterflies that you can count on having these fluttering guests dining in your garden every afternoon. To attract the most, plant lots of tall, red or hot pink zinnias in a large patch. 'Big Red' is especially nice for this, and the flowers are outstanding and excellent for cutting. Zinnias grow quickly from seed sown right in the ground and do best in full sun with dry to well-drained soil.

Garden Plans for French Marigold

An Eye-Catching Kitchen Garden Plan

garden plan with pathway

Enjoy a full summer of homegrown vegetables with this ornamental potager garden.

Easy Children's Vegetable Garden Plan

Easy Children’s Vegetable Garden Plan illustration
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Enjoy growing healthy produce while spending time with little gardeners with this easy garden plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do French marigolds come back each year?

    No. As annuals, they die at the first frost. However, the plants are prolific self-seeders, and you may see a surprise crop of new plants in the spring. However, these plants will not be exact duplicates of their hybrid parents.

  • What is the difference between French marigolds and African marigolds?

    African marigolds are taller and more upright than French marigolds and have much larger flowers. French marigold plants are smaller, bushier, and have a longer blooming period—from spring until frost.

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