The ever popular French and African Marigold range from a few inches to several feet tall. But here is something that you might not have known, they both originated in Mexico! Some expert believe that landscapers rely too much on the numerous varieties of Tagetes for summer bedding, but these plants continue to be the main source of yellow, orange and brown in the small flower bed. Stalking is rarely necessary but dead heading is required to prolong the floral display. The foliage is pungent when crushed and the flowers may be single or double.
Tagetes are divided into three major groups. The African Marigold are the tallest and the flowers by far the largest reaching a diameter of several inches. If you are looking for the wow factor in your landscaping garden design, this flower has it. The blooms are double and ball shaped in colours ranging from pale yellow to deep orange. Some are dwarfs, like Golden Age, others such as Doubloon are 3 foot high with 5 inch blooms. The French Marigolds are shorter and the flowers are smaller but there is an immense variety of colours and colour blends. Landscapers use this flower in Irish garden designs to add colour and charm to a design. This is also the really popular group and seed catalogues offer many different varieties. Look for naughty Marietta (1 foot, single, yellow and maroon), Petite (6 Inches, double, mixed colours, Tiger Eyes (10 Inches, double, red with yellow centre) and yellow jacket (6 inches, double, yellow).
The third major group is made up of the dainty Tagetes varieties (T.signata) which are widely used for edgings by Irish landscapers. The plants are compact and the flowers are small and single. Lemon Gem (9 Inches) is popular while the colour combinations of yellow, orange and brown make the Starfire popular among Irish landscapers. The dividing lines between the groups are no longer clean cut.
Any good garden soil would do and the flowers will thrive best in full sun.
The flowering period is from June to October
Follow the Half Hardy Annual technique. Alternatively in mild areas sow seeds outdoors in May.