How to Grow Marigolds from Seed

How to Grow Marigolds from Seed

Marigolds are abundant. There are 56 species and four types of Marigolds. They seem to grow everywhere, and wherever they are, there is a profusion of showy bright colors.

Marigold Are Annuals

Marigolds are a glorious orange summer plant. They can be grown from Seed and do not like the winter.

Look for all the information you need – which should be on your seed pack.

They Need Care

Depending on what country you’re living in, they are a bit delicate, and they might give you a hard time if you try to plant the Seed directly into your garden for growth, as they might find it too cold there and perish before they get started. 

A Gentle Hand Will Be Rewarded

Maybe you’d prefer to take no chances. Instead, grow the seeds inside until they start to get a bit sturdier and then plant them in pots and put them outside until they are even more robust and then, if you like, you can plant them directly into your garden for a good show and spread, or keep them in the pots for the summer.

Marigolds are Beautiful Plants and Don’t Disappoint.

Close up of beautiful Marigold flower (Tagetes erecta, Mexican, Aztec or African marigold) in the garden
Close up of beautiful Marigold flower (Tagetes erecta, Mexican, Aztec or African marigold) in the garden

Because there are many different types of Marigolds, you should compare how many days your number of frost-free compares with the number of days the plant needs to reach maturity. T.tenuifolia usually flowers in about 60 days – depending on the variety. 

Taking about 60 – 100 days to bloom from Seed,

if your Marigold takes about 100 or so days or more to bloom, and if your growing season has 190 days in total, this means that you will potentially get to enjoy your flower for about three months. Now that’s a good deal!

Their Blooms last About 140 days.

However, let’s go back to your growing season for a moment and decide that if it only has an average of 104 days, you probably won’t get to enjoy the blooms at all if you sow outdoors. At best, you might get some buds.

Marigolds take about 60 days to Germinate (show First Signs of Growth)

Thus, in cases like these, it’s always best to cultivate your patience and sow these pretty plants indoors until they are strong enough to be replanted outside. It’s worth taking a little extra care and being rewarded by a terrific show of beautiful orange blooms.

Marigolds are tender blossoms, and it’s all too easy to lose some of them in the colder weather. But before we get to that, remember they don’t need much light to germinate; so, if they haven’t sprouted within 60 days, they’re getting too much light, and their seeds are planted too high. These plants smell of Spring and Summer, and we shouldn’t risk exposing them to colder weather.  

Sow Outside

If you decide to sow the seeds outside, it is more direct than starting them indoors. It seems more manageable because there are fewer steps involved, fewer materials required, and you should be able to avoid the risk of transplant shock.

When You Should Sow Outside

That’s why, if you are going to insist on sowing them into your garden, then please have the patience to wait until your very last days of the late frosts are gone, and, about a week later, you can embark on the sowing of the seedlings. You must then plant them in a place in your garden where they will be in full sun. 

Precautions with Outside Soil                 

When you plant outside from Seedlings, there are other precautions to be considered, such as, when considering where to plant your marigolds, be aware that these plants need to grow in soil that drains well.

Good Drainage

These plants need good drainage. Therefore, if you’re dealing with heavy clay, mix in some compostOpens in a new tab. to help with drainage. Otherwise, you should sow these needy seeds in raised beds.

How to Sow Outside

For best results, wet the soil lightly with a gentle spray from the hoseOpens in a new tab. before sowing. We like to do these several hours before sowing our seeds; so that the earth is moist but not soggy at planting time. 

The right way of handling this would be to scrape back some of the soil so that you can use it later for covering the seeds. The next step is to level out the soil and then pat it gently to firm it up.

This is Hands-On

Carefully shake out just a few seeds into the palm of your dry hand. The seeds are light and airy, and that should be easy to do! Now place groups of three or four seeds on the prepared soil and space them about six to twelve inches apart – depending on the maturing of the chosen variety.

Stay Alert

Take the seeds, gently press them into the soil, and cover them lightly with the soil you pushed to the side. Now they should be buried about ½ inch deep. Next, pat and smooth soil gently and lightly water with a watering can. Continue to water lightly and gently (sprinkle don’t flood) every day until the seedings begins to emerge once you start to catch sight of them, gradually back off from the watering so that the established plants receive about one inch per week.  

Why Start Indoors

You might think that sowing seeds directly into the garden outside might not be the best option?

However, many people disagree with this; so here are some reasons why you’d probably prefer, instead, to very gently start your marigolds indoors:

A short growing season.

You want blooms early in the summer.

Your area is susceptible to late killing frosts.

To grow a slower maturing variety, such as most T. erect cultivars.

Starting your seeds indoors means you should plan to sow them about six to weeks before your average last frost date.

Try to allow your marigolds about six to eight weeks of growth before setting them out. This will give them a jump start, and you’ll enjoy the blooms earlier than if you tried to sow them directly into your garden.

The seedlings will be ready to transplant into the place you’ve arranged for them in your garden at the beginning of your local warm season. Then, the earlier maturing varieties will bloom soon after transplanting them.

How to Start Indoors

Starting marigold seeds indoors can be reasonably straightforward. However, it does require a few materials and supplies to get you started.

If it’s a while since you did this, you might want to re-acquaint yourself with the basic rules.

A Few Tips on How to Grow Marigolds from Seed

Use some sterilized potting soil or try the earth free preparatory mix.

It would be best if you planted 2-3 seeds per plastic start-up cell tray.

When the different seedlings have grown to be about 2 inches tall, thin out all the growths except the strongest plant in each cell.

Water daily with a spray bottle to prevent waterlogging and alleviate the risk of damping offOpens in a new tab..

If using the light from a south-facing window instead of growing lightsOpens in a new tab., turn your trays daily to help straighten out seedlings, which will tend to lean toward the light.

Starting Off

Because seedlings usually lean towards the light, they can grow in a very crooked way. Place them close to a sunny window and turn the plant trays daily so that they grow straight. 

About a week before you transplant seedlings, start toughening them up by placing them outdoors each day to start getting them acclimatized to more challenging growing conditions.

It’s essential to place them outside in a shaded location where they are protected from the wind.

Protect Before Transplant

During that week, gradually increase their exposure to sun and wind by about an hour each day until they’re outdoors for the entire day and placed in the location where you intend to plant them.

Plant Your Transplants

Next, plant your transplants in a full sun location with well-draining soil, and water them in.

Many people like to do their transplanting on an overcast or cloudy day or even in the evening.

Look After Them and You!

This is so that the transplants don’t have much heat stress to deal with while acclimatizing themselves. It’s also kind to the person doing the planting as it protects them from the sun!

Recommended Cultivars

Set out below are some recommended cultivars. They are recommended because they are fast maturing – faster-growing French type marigolds:  T. patula. Queen Sophia

Queen Sophia’ is what you would describe as an All-America Selections Winner with very fiery looking petals that are large and quite beautiful.

These petals of this French type of Marigold are dark orange with bright yellow edges. It has a double bloom that measures about two to three inches across.

These stunning plants grow 10-12 inches tall and have a spread of about eight inches.

These attractive ‘Queen Sophia’ plants will grow fully in 60 days. Look for ‘Queen Sophia’ seeds in a selection of package sizes in your gardening store or one of your local nurseries.

Strawberry Blonde

Marigolds are naturally limited to shades of yellow, red, and orange. Therefore, seeing this unique pink-colored cultivar such as ‘Strawberry Blonde’ is as truly exciting as rewarding! What a thrill!

The blossoms of this variety start red and then transform into a lovely pinkish-yellow hue. The plants themselves reach a height of 8-10 inches tall with a 6-8 inch spread at maturity. Look for ‘Strawberry Blond’ in packs of 50 seeds.


Do you know those times when no matter how hard you try, you just cannot decide? Why not go for a mix? Try the ‘Durango’ mix that comes in a delightful blend of yellow and burgundy colors in addition to some appealing patterns with double blooms that are reaching two to 2 ½ inches across.

‘Durango Mix’ Plants grow to10-12 inches in height and usually reach a 9-inch spread.  Flowers in the ‘Durango’ mix get to full growth in 50-60 days.

Look for the ‘Durango’ mix and various other ‘Durango’ colors in packs of 1000 seed at your local nurseries or gardening stores.

You’ve Grown Marigolds.

These transplants respond well to being watered daily for the first week. When the plants are established, please give them a good soaking (don’t drown them) weekly. Water them only at the ground level, and avoid spraying the flowers directly with water. This will keep your blooms looking fresh instead of soggy and wilted.

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.