Caring for Marigolds


TheGardenLady received this question from Sammy.

I am trying to grow marigolds on my balcony. They were already partially grown when I got them and were already flowering now they are starting to get lots of  flowers and the leaves are starting to fall off. I need some advice on pruning  them. Is there anything else I need to do to care for them? Also I kept one of the  dead flowers that fell off because I was told they hold the seeds of the plant that I can then replant.  Is there anything special I need to do before I plant  them.

Some people think that the marigold is the easiest flower to raise.  See here.   However, that being said, they do need lots of sunshine – the more the better. Marigolds like continuously warm or hot weather – not cold and hot weather – after all most of the marigolds we have in the US come from Mexico. They like to be watered but don’t like to be over watered – water twice a week in dry times. Too much rain can be bad for them so be sure the pots have good drainage. And though marigolds generally don’t seem to have many problems, they can have problems.  See here.  Your leaves falling off may be a sign that something is wrong.

Or it might just mean that your plant is telling you it wants to be in a larger pot. You may want to try to replant them into more and better soil. Since you are gardening on your balcony in pots, you can buy good potting soil with slow release fertilizer that would be good to repot them in. Marigolds like fertilizer besides the sunlight and warmth.

You do not prune marigolds; you deadhead the flowers. Deadheading means that when a flower dies you snap it off with the stem close to, but not at, the base of the stem. Deadheading prevents the plant from making seeds so the plants produce more flowers.

If you do want to have seeds, let the flower die on the plant. Do not pick the dead flower off the plant because this dead flower will turn into a seed pod. If you pick the dead flower off the plant, it will not set seed. You will notice the dead flower left on the plant will change into a seed pod. When the seed pod forms, let the seed pod dry on the plant. Then when it is dry, pinch it off and open it. You will see lots of seeds in the pod. Each seed can produce one new marigold plant when planted. Usually you leave the seed pods form at the end of the flowering period, in the fall, then gather the seed pods. Keep the seeds in the pod in a dry place, indoors, until spring.

You can plant the seeds in pots indoors at any time of the year. You will have flowers bloom in the winter if the plants get enough sun indoors. Take the plants in the pots to your balcony when it is warm outside. Or you can spread the seeds directly in soil outdoors when it is warm enough.

10 Replies to “Caring for Marigolds”

  1. Hi.
    I am growing similar marigold as the above picture in tall (3″) pots in a very sunny location of my backyard. In the pots I have also planted white flowering bacopa, ivy and a browny spikey grass (not sure of the name).
    Everything in the pots were growing well for a few weeks until recently when I noticed that the bacopa stopped flowering and the foliage and flowers of the marigolds had turned into a daily meal for “something”.
    I’ve checked in the soil, and around the marigolds both in the day and in the evening but can’t locate any insects other than the one lonely earwig.
    I have read that the only pests that will feast on marigolds are slugs but I can’t find any in/around my pots. Can you offer any information on what may be causing my frustrations???
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi , every year i try to grow tons of cracker jack marigolds but they never seem to bloom well and do their best.
    I need a huge volumes of flowers for the Hindu firewalking festival,but still get let down at the last minute, what am i doing wrong? the Festival is on Good friday towards the end of the South African Summer..
    Please advise,

  3. i have just bought a marigold plant which is like round orange flower,the flower has died inspite its kept in the sunny area.What should i do to get the plant back?

  4. Liz – you are probably right when you suspect slugs. They can travel quite a distance at night to eat, so it’s likely that you’ll never find them during the day. Their favorite meal around here seems to be hostas and the foliage of spring bulbs, but we’ll see if they go after the marigold foliage as well…

  5. I had a question on how to prune a marigold that has gotten too tall. It has not flowered yet, I grew it from seed. I want the flower to be more full and compact and not so tall. Can I just cut the top of the plant so that the flowers develop below?
    Thank you,

  6. hello, I recieved some marigolds from a friend. they were orange and did not seem to be as big or sturdy as usual marigolds are. they bloomed well until it got to cold out. i kept saving the flowers for the seed pods, and they grew very well. but they did not do too well during the fall and winter, so now i just have what looks like 3 long, thin sticks coming out of the ground. is there anything i can do so they will bloom again?


  7. i have the very same question as (ms. or mrs. ?) Marlene Levett posted on may 27th,2009. can you enlighten me at your convenience? i would be sincerely appreciative.

  8. My marigold has gotten so bit it is a huge bush and it is crowding out the plants around it. Is there any certain way to prune it other than hacking off random branches?

  9. Thank you very much for this blog post! It was very helpful, because I was assigned to take care of a Marigold for a summer project in our AP Biology class.

  10. Hi, I direct sowed some marigolds and started 72 in a tray. Put them all about 2 months ago. Other than this I have only grown wildflowers. I had 2 different kinds and of course got them mixed up and the packages got blown away. Didn’t realize I had small regular marigolds and some that are now well over 4 feet tall with no flowers. I think they were white african marigolds. I now have small flowered marigolds in with all the big ones and these huge plants with no flowers.
    Now there is small things on the top that resemble grass seed pods. I pulled a plant thinking it wasn’t a marigold, I think it was.

    Could someone please help? Many Thanks in advance.

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