How to Propagate, Grow Tagetes (Moorish Carnation) and Its Care

Marigolds (Tagetes spp.), also known as Moorish carnation or Chinese carnation, are among the most common and trusted flowers. These cheerful flowers with warm colors and fern-like foliage are true annuals, completing their life cycle in a single growing season. In this article we will look at how to propagate, grow marigolds and their care.

grow marigolds


Basic facts about Marigolds

  • Common name: Marigolds
  • Botanical name: Tagetes spp.
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Plant type: herbaceous, annual
  • adult size: 10-100 cm high, 15-60 cm wide
  • Sun exposure: full
  • Soil type: Regular, with good drainage
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic to neutral (6.0 to 7.0)
  • Flowering period: Summer
  • Flower color: yellow, orange, white, red, gold, two-tone

How to propagate Tagetes

Growing Weddings From Seeds

sow marigolds

Growing marigolds from seed is very easy as they are large and easy to handle. For faster flowering, seeds can be sown indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, but they germinate quickly outdoors when sown directly into garden soil.

If you decide to sow Tagetes seeds indoors, sow them on the surface of a tray or small pots filled with lightly moistened regular potting soil.

Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, then cover the tray or pot with plastic. Place the container in a warm place, but direct light is not needed until the seeds germinate and sprout.

When the seeds germinate (usually only four or five days), remove the plastic and move the container to a location that receives four to five hours a day of good light (artificial light is fine).

Keep the potting soil moist but not soggy. To avoid damp mushrooms, it is best to water from below, letting the tray or pot absorb water from a tray. When the seedlings begin to vigorously put on new leaves, they are ready to be transplanted outdoors, provided all danger of frost has passed.

Growing Tagetes by cuttings (stems)

propagate marigolds

Marigolds are propagated so easily from stem cuttings that the perfect time to do so is spring.

Use pruners to cut 4-inch lengths of flexible green stem, preferably without flowers or buds.

Remove all the leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Also remove flowers and buds.

Then, plant it about 5cm deep in a small pot or tray filled with a porous seed mix or a mixture of potting soil, sand and perlite.

Pack the growing medium tightly around the cutting, moisten it, and place the pot loosely in a plastic bag, creating an informal greenhouse.

Place the pot in a warm, bright place, but away from direct sunlight. Every four or five days, lightly moisten the mixture.

When the cuttings have taken root (this usually takes several weeks), transplant them into larger pots filled with coarse soil. Let them become well established before planting them in the garden.

How to grow marigolds

grow marigolds

Growing marigolds is very easy as they require very little maintenance once established and are pest free. In fact, they are sometimes planted to deter pests from attacking other plants.

They can bloom almost non-stop and will continue to do so throughout the summer, until frost. Flowering may decrease slightly during the heat of summer, but usually pick up in full force when cooler weather arrives.


For the most blooms and the healthiest plants, plant your Tagetes in full sun. Shady conditions will make plants more brittle and flower less.

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Any good garden soil (and a little water during dry spells) should keep them happy, as long as the soil isn’t too acidic. Keep the soil pH more or less neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0.

They also don’t need soil that is particularly high in organic matter and seem to grow best in poorer soil.


When you first plant your Tagetes seeds or plants, make sure they receive regular water. Don’t leave them on land for more than a few days.

If it is very hot and sunny, water the new plants daily. Once they’ve had a few weeks to establish a good root system, they’ll be more drought tolerant, but will still flower best if they receive water weekly.

temperature and humidity

Marigolds are heat-loving plants that thrive in summer throughout their growing range. These true annuals can get a little dull in the height of summer, especially in areas with hot summers, but bloom resumes when the weather cools in late summer and fall.

Marigolds tolerate a wide range of humidity levels, but can pick up powdery mildew during humid summers. Planting them in full sun and leaving space for air to circulate will reduce this problem. These native Mexican plants prefer relatively dry air.


Your Tagetes will not need any type of additional fertilizer unless your soil is extremely poor. The best thing to do to keep them in bloom is to behead them regularly.

Marigolds care

grow marigolds


If the first flower buds are cut off, the plant becomes bushy, which leads to a much more spectacular main flowering season.

Regularly removing spent flowers helps the plant continue to produce new flowers until fall.

spend the winter

Marigolds are true annuals that can be pulled up and discarded when cold temperatures kill them. It is normal to leave a few plants to be seeded in the garden.

Birds do not normally eat the seeds, although they sometimes tear off the flower heads, which can aid the self-seeding effort.

Plagues and diseases

Marigolds are free from the most serious pests and diseases, but some problems do occasionally occur.

Snails and slugs can eat the leaves, especially young plants. If you see ragged holes in the sheets, that’s probably the problem. Keep the ground free of leaf debris and set up slug and snail traps if necessary. How to Eliminate and Avoid Snails Naturally

Aphids can sometimes be a problem, but horticultural soaps or oils take care of them easily. 5 recipes to fight aphids naturally

Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease on marigolds. The white residue that appears on the leaves is usually caused by fungal spores splashing up from the soil or between affected plants. The disease is unattractive but almost never fatal.

You can prevent this disease by ensuring good air circulation between plants and soaking water into the soil rather than spraying from above. How to Fight and Prevent Powdery Mildew Naturally

tall plants fall

The tallest varieties of marigolds, which reach a meter or more in height, can be overloaded and topple due to strong winds and rains.

To avoid this, you can bury the plants deeply when planting, removing the lower leaves and planting them so that the exposed stem nodes are buried.

This creates an extra large root system that may be enough to keep the plant upright, even in moderately strong winds.

It also helps eliminate heavy flowers immediately after flowering to prevent the plant from becoming too heavy. And of course, you can stake your plants if you need to.

Plants weaken in midsummer

Marigolds can sometimes become sparse and wiry with reduced flowering during the hottest part of summer. This is especially likely in very hot climates.

It may also be interesting to read: How to propagate, cultivate Gazania and its care.

Many gardeners prefer to heavily prune plants when these heat waves begin. Plants almost always recover strongly and produce good growth and abundant flowering when the weather begins to cool again in late summer and early fall.

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