‘Strawberry Blonde’ French marigold

Story by Clara A. Curtis

Now why would I choose to feature such a humdrum, pedestrian, and easy to grow garden annual? Color and ease were my inspirations. The pastel peachy pink with yellow and gold undertone petals of ‘Strawberry Blonde’ French marigold change color over the season: pinky yellow tones in warmer weather and rosy plum colors when temperatures drop. These are new colors for the Tagetes genus. 

New gardeners need easy to grow, floriferous and forgiving plants to encourage their gardening efforts. Easy to sow from seed and even easier to transplant, marigolds are perfect for children and new gardeners. When my millennial daughter planted her first garden, she chose marigolds to edge her tomato plantings and provide season-long color. 

Seeds may be sown on prepared garden soil, covered with ¼-inch of soil, and should germinate in seven to 14 days. Seedlings will need to be thinned and monitored closely for water needs and then mulched lightly to maintain soil moisture and temperature. Once established, the flowers need only weekly watering. Marigolds typically do not require deadheading, but some removal of spent flowers encourages continued flowering. If planted in containers, remember to combine plants with similar water requirements. When marigolds are growing in containers, soil moisture should be checked every couple of days. While drought tolerant, marigolds may quickly wilt in well-draining soilless medium.

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: ‘Strawberry Blonde’ French marigold
Botanical Name: Tagetes patula ‘Strawberry Blonde’
Color: Leaves are medium dull green with olive tinge on the new leaves; flowers are an attractive multicolor mix of gold, orange, pink, and rose on the same plant.
Blooming Period: Summer 
Type: Annual
Size: Height of 8-10 inches with an equal spread 
Exposure: Sun
When to Plant: In spring after the frost-free date for your region.
Soil: Well-drained soil or container mixes 
Watering: Water well at planting and then weekly to establish. Grows best in well-drained soils and is somewhat drought tolerant.
When to Prune: None needed. Light deadheading (removal of spent flowers) to maintain shape and promote flowering.
When to Fertilize: Upon planting and then weekly with organic or water-soluble fertilizers.
In Your Landscape: Excellent in containers, as edging for vegetable gardens, as a cut flower, and in landscape beds. Marigolds attract butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Feature photo: ‘Strawberry Blonde’ French marigold represents a breakthrough in flower color with a mixture of pastel pink, rose, yellow, and golden tones on one plant. Photo © Graham Rice/

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