Story and Photos by Alan Pulley
Many gardeners would agree that marigolds have been making a comeback in recent years, and why not? New varieties have ben introduced in more colors and bloom sizes. Combine that with their long flowering season and how easy they are to grow – what gardener wouldn’t want all that?
A couple of years ago I obtained seeds of Tagetes erecta, known as giant or super giant marigold. I started the seeds indoors and after all danger of frost had passed, I transplanted them outside along the edge of my vegetable garden. In early summer, I was rewarded with 3-plus-feet tall plants covered with 3-inch yellow and orange blooms that lasted until the first fall frost. My only issue was thinning out the blooms to prevent the plant from getting top heavy and falling over. These few plants provided us with bouquets of cut flowers all summer. Easily grown in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun, this low-maintenance, deer and rabbit resistant annual is sure to please!
Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name(s): Giant marigold, super giant marigold, African marigold, Aztec marigold, American marigold or big marigold
Botanical Name: Tagetes erecta
Color: Yellow and orange blooms; dark green foliage
Blooming Period: Summer to fall
Type: Summer annual
Mature Size: 40 inches tall, 1 foot wide
Exposure: Full sun
When to Plant: Spring
Soil: Medium to well-drained soil
Watering: Water regularly until the roots are established. Once established, it can handle short periods of drought, however will flower more vigorously with occasional water during dry periods.
When to Prune: Cut/harvest blooms so that the plant wouldn’t get top heavy and fall over.
When to Fertilize: Light, balanced organic fertilizer in early summer.
In Your Landscape: Cutting garden; sunny bed or border.