The marigold is a beautiful small flower that is wildly popular in North America. What you may not know is that there are 4 different types of marigolds.
In this extensive marigold guide, we set out and describe all 4 types plus explain how to grow them and their many benefits.
Table of Contents
Types of Marigolds
1. French Marigolds
These types of marigolds bloom in the fall and the summer and since they are a very sturdy flower, they grow well in containers even if you place them inside your home. If the temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, these marigolds grow especially well. Once you plant the seeds, you should see some sprouting within a week or two but you also need to be careful with snails, slugs, and Japanese beetles, among other pests, which can wreak havoc on them. There are also different types of French marigolds, including:
- Bonanza marigolds, which usually grow between eight and ten inches high and about two inches in diameter. Bushy and compact, these flowers usually have colors such as yellow, orange, and maroon and are certainly eye-catching.
- Janie marigolds, which produce blooms that resemble double carnations. They are usually orange, yellow, and maroon in color with an average height of only eight inches, making them an excellent plant for those with only limited space.
- Little Hero marigolds, which are only six to eight inches in height; it is a dwarf variety but still produces double carnations of yellow, orange, and maroon.
- Bounty marigolds, which are usually red, gold, and orange in color; are roughly two inches in diameter; and grow between ten and twelve inches in height. These types of marigolds are great for hot, humid climates, and grow especially well during the summer months.
- Hero marigolds, which are fairly tall at ten inches, can be up to two inches in width, and come in roughly seven different colors.
- Safari marigolds, which are compact and product three-inch-wide flowers. They can grow up to fourteen inches in height and come in colors that include red, orange, yellow, and a gold and mahogany mix.
French marigolds have been a popular flower for a very long time, mainly because they are easy to care for and easy to grow. In fact, French marigolds can even be used in perfumes and exquisite foods, making them a very versatile plant indeed. They are low maintenance, have a wonderful aroma, and can withstand droughts and even deer that try to destroy them. Because they can bloom in three out of the four seasons, it is easy for plant lovers to show an interest in purchasing French marigolds.
Main advantages: hold up better in rainy weather than many other varieties; can be single or double in shape; height ranges from six to eighteen inches; usually bloom from spring until frost; small, bushy plants up to two inches across.
2. Signet (Single) Marigolds
What makes these marigolds so unique is that they are edible and many people add a sweetness to their salads by sprinkling marigolds over them. Signet marigolds can therefore be planted in both your regular and your herb garden. If you research them online, you can view various ways to add these flowers to your recipes. The flowers are billowy and round and they should be planted where there is plenty of sun. Their soil should be moist but not necessarily rich or fertile because this can result in fewer blooms and a weakness in the structure of the plant. There are also different types of signet marigolds, including:
- Lemon gem marigolds, which grow approximately one foot in height, are bright yellow in color, and can bloom all summer long.
- Tangerine gem marigolds, which are a similar plant but are bright orange in color.
- Red gem marigolds, which are again a similar plant but they come in bright red colors.
- Spanish tarragon marigolds, which are anise-flavored and usually bloom in the fall with smaller blooms; if the climate is too hot or humid to grow tarragon, planting this type of marigold can be the perfect solution. It grows up to three feet in height.
- Pot marigold is not a true marigold but are cool-season annuals that are bright orange and yellow. These marigolds are often grown as herbs.
- Irish Lace marigolds, which are short plants that contain tiny white flowerets and leaves that are lacey. Their leaves are dark and beautiful and they are extra eye-catching.
Signet marigolds can also come in a maroon variety that has yellow edges, called a paprika gem marigold, and they are citrusy in scent, add beautiful color to any garden, and grow full, beautiful flowers all summer long. You can click here to read more about how to care for your signet marigolds but overall they are a low-maintenance flower that most people love, especially since you can use them for both beauty and to cook some of your favorite dishes. When the soil gets dry, water it; if you remove the spent blooms, they should grow even faster and fuller. Once the blooms are full, you can remove them for culinary purposes and to add flavor to your many dishes. The more you know about these types of marigolds, the more you’ll love them.
Main advantages: delicate, lacy, lemon-scented foliage; edible with a spicy tarragon flavor; loved even by people who don’t like marigolds because of their look and delicacy; growth can be sped up if it starts to slow down in mid-summer if you shear them back by about one-third so that additional blooms appear once the cool weather returns.
3. African Marigolds
Also known as Aztec or American marigolds, these plants have very large blooms; therefore, they are perfect for floral arrangements, decoration, and even bouquets. Just as other marigolds, they grow best in a spot that is sunny and warm. Their strong scent wards off rabbits, deer, and other animals that might otherwise infest the garden. These marigolds are a little more tolerant of dry weather than French marigolds and they are even used in alternative medicine, most noticeably for treating hiccups. They are a sturdy, colorful, and beautiful plant that can grow up to three inches in width and comes in the following colors and types:
- Double yellow and orange, which can grow up to two feet high
- Creamy white
The reason why this plant is known as Aztec marigolds is because at one time, the Aztecs used them for ceremonial and medicinal purposes as well as for decoration and even as a yellow dye and as a skin wash. The plants can add color and flavor to a variety of salads and some of these uses are still being practiced today in certain parts of the world. Aztec marigolds can be used as scents for different perfumes and if the petals are ground to a powder, they can be used to dye foods such as egg yolks and broiler skins, making them just as effective as commercially-made dyes.
Main advantages: flowers can grow up to five inches wide; can grow as tall as three feet; make excellent bedding plants; the taller varieties are great background plants.
4. Triploid Hybrids
Just as the name makes clear, these marigolds are a cross between American and French marigolds. The plants have extremely large flowers that are strong and sturdy, even in challenging external environments. This translates into blooms that remain healthy and beautiful regardless of how hot it is; however, this does not mean the triploids are necessarily easy to grow. In fact, because of their low germination, they can be a little challenging to grow but if you follow a few basic rules, you should have no problems producing the results you want.
Just as other varieties of marigolds, the hybrids come in a few different types, including:
- Zenith, a striking flower that has no seed set; therefore, there is no need for dead-heading. The Zenith marigolds can grow up to three inches in width and up to fourteen inches in height and they are broken down into two types, the anemone and the carnation.
- Nugget, which is not a popular type but is an option nonetheless. These plants have compact double flowerheads and come most often in colors such as yellow, gold, orange, and red.
If you’re concerned about growing the triploid hybrids, don’t be. The marigolds, often called mule marigolds because they do not reproduce, just require that you pay attention to the rules that are included with the plants in order to be successful and grow the way they should. Any research you can do online also helps as there are many websites that give you the details you need for your triploid hybrids to grow and thrive. As long as you’re following the rules and tending to your marigolds the way you’re supposed to, they should continue to bloom beautifully year after year.
Main advantages: produce flowers much longer than other types of marigolds because of the fact that they set no seed as they are maturing; have a much wider adaptability to various climates; perform better when it’s extra hot; more daylength neutral than other types of marigolds.
The Many Advantages of Growing Marigolds
Marigolds are easy to grow overall and easy to maintain. Some of their biggest advantages include:
- Long growing season
- Easy to care for
- Can repel pests such as Mexican bean beetles when planted with herbs and vegetables,
- Many decorative uses because of their beauty and size
- Edible options available
Once you purchase and plant your marigolds, you’ll easily understand why they are such a popular flower for people all over the country. Even people who have previously had no luck with their flowers blooming and thriving can usually grow marigolds. If you follow the instructions exactly as you should, you should soon be enjoying the beautiful, large blooms of the average marigold plant. If you choose an edible variety, there are many ways to use it. If you sprinkle them on salads, wait until after the salad dressing is applied or they can become too oily, which can affect their taste. You can also adorn cupcakes and cakes with them. Even if you do not use them immediately, you can dry them and store them somewhere for use later on. You can do this by spreading the flowers on a screen to dry out but always do this in an area that is well-ventilated and somewhat shady. After the flowers are completely dry, store them in glass jars in a cool, dry place so that you can use them in the future.
As long ago as the 1400s, marigolds have been used for medicinal purposes for conditions such as toothache, wounds, fever, jaundice, headaches, sprains, and even bee stings. If you boil the flower, you can use it as a food dye and even today some restaurants utilize this method to color rice instead of using saffron. Marigolds have many different purposes and when you research them on the Internet, a lot of these purposes will come to light.
How to Grow Marigolds
Regardless of which type of marigolds you wish to plant, there are a few tips that apply to all of them, and keeping these tips in mind can make a big difference in the color and size of your plants. Here are a few of those tips:
- Know your planting zone. In the U.S., there are 13 planting zones and knowing your zone is crucial if you want to learn exactly when to plant your seeds and how you should take care of them as they grow. If you live in Zone 8 or higher, your marigolds may stick around all year round because they won’t die off in the winter time, meaning that they’ll return the following year with even fuller and more beautiful blooms.
- Always plant marigolds after the first frost. The African variety should be planted some time after the very last frost since they are so slow to mature. If you plant your marigolds during the morning hours or on a day that is cloudy, this will reduce the shock that the heat often heaps on the plants, which means that your chances of success are much higher.
- Consider seeds versus seedlings. They both have their advantages but the main differences are that seeds are less expensive but may take longer to germinate while seedlings are a little more costly yet will produce immediate satisfaction.
- Pay attention to where you wish to grow your marigolds. Whether you want your marigolds to be in pots or in a garden, keep in mind they need space for their blooms to widen and grow. This means that the fully grown types need about two to three feet between them. Although marigolds do best in bright sunlight, they can handle spaces with up to 20% shade but certainly never more than that.
- Decide on the type of marigold you want. Each type of marigold produces a different color and size so this should always be kept in mind when you go to plant your flowers, regardless of which zone you’re in or where you decide to plant them.
- When planting seedlings, place them from eight to eighteen inches apart; once the flowers start to appear, fertilize the plants one time every four to six weeks for better color and growth.
- Trim your plants whenever necessary and, of course, if you see dead leaves or blooms, get rid of them as soon as possible. To keep the plants productive all summer long, make sure to deadhead them and always make sure that the soil is wet so that the chances of getting garden pests will be reduced.
For best results, you can plant them indoors a minimum of four to six weeks before the last day of the frost. You can plant them outdoors as well but make sure that there is no danger of the frost coming back. In less than two months, marigold seeds can germinate and bloom and then you can transfer them to the outdoors. If you add a fertilizer once a month and add compost to the soil when your soil is looking less than perfect, this can make your marigolds grow much more beautifully. Your soil should be moist but never dripping wet so watering the plants once or twice a week should be enough. Placing mulch around the plants helps them grow as well, not to mention that this makes them more attractive and keeps weeds from forming.
Using Marigolds for Health and Well-Being
If you’re curious about using marigold for health and medicinal purposes, you’ll likely be surprised by the information you find. Although there are dozens of ways to use marigolds to treat certain conditions, below are some of the most notorious ones. Of course, if you’d like to find others, going online is a great way to begin but the ones listed below are certain to be beneficial to thousands of people.
- Skin conditions: sunburn, bites, dry skin, blisters, and even acne can be soothed when you use an ointment containing marigold flowers.
- Eye or skin infections: salves can be used to treat various fungal infections such as candida, hemorrhoids, and numerous other infections of the skin, mouth, feet, and even the genital area.
- Tea for soothing digestive problems: if you make a tea out of marigold flowers, it can improve acid reflux, ulcers, menstrual cramps, and even colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Boost your immune system: fevers, coughs, and sore throats can be soothed by using just a few drops of calendula (marigold) oil.
- Calendula oil can also be used for the treatment of ear infections and even as a homemade bug spray; you need very few drops for these treatments to be effective.
Marigolds can be boiled down to make a paste or ointment and if you notice a product or essential oil made with calendula oil, this is made with marigolds. Calendula oil offers numerous advantages including the ability to reduce free radicals and inflammation, natural antiseptic capabilities, reducing or eliminating conjunctivitis of the eye, and even bug-repelling properties.
Marigold’s main components include plant steroids, oleanolic acid glycosides, calendic acid, linoleic acid, polysaccharides, triterpenoids, flavonoids, and carotenoids, among others. These are all naturally occurring substances that have great medicinal purposes so they will never make a condition worse or cause any harm to you.
If taken internally, this plant can improve circulation, detoxify your digestive system, stimulate those cells that prevent infections from occurring, and can even balance the female reproductive system, including estrogen. When used externally, the results include healing of wounds and cuts, stopping any bleeding you are experiencing, promoting healthy tissue growth, healing diaper rash and first-degree burns, improving the appearance of varicose veins, and even being used in place of baby powder.
For pregnant or lactating women, only the external methods should be used as taking calendula/marigold internally is not healthy for women who are pregnant or nursing a baby. Even the external methods, however, should be authorized by your doctor before you begin just to be safe.
Some Final Thoughts
Marigolds are multi-purpose plants that are beautiful, are easy to grow, and have great medicinal qualities. If you dry out the flower, the dried plant should be used within twelve months for their best effectiveness, although fresh flowers need to be used immediately.
In addition, if you have marigold seeds and are not ready to plant right away, they can last up to two years or longer, especially if you store them tightly covered and in a dry, cool place. Better still, although they are native to the Mediterranean area and Egypt, marigolds are now grown in every continent on the planet so regardless of where you live, you can take advantage of all of the benefits of this amazing flower.
Marigolds have been used since at least the 12th century, maybe earlier, and they have been used in various sacred and religious ceremonies, including the decoration of sacred spaces. The plant is a truly remarkable one and whether you’re interested in learning more about its various types, medicinal purposes, or other many benefits, getting started online is your smartest option. Although there are many types of marigolds, they all offer beautiful, large flowers and an easy-to-grow capability. Once you explore all of their various advantages and perks, you’ll never regret choosing this type of flower.