How to Grow Marigolds in Pots or Containers

Marigolds are some of the most popular flowers in flower gardens and vegetable gardens each season. But how do you get them to flourish if you want them planted in a container? In this article, gardening expert Natalie Leiker walks through how to grow Marigolds in pots or containers in just a few simple steps.

Marigolds growing in pots on the ground in garden.

Marigolds are popular flowering annuals that are often a staple amongst home gardeners. These bright vivid colored flowers are often seen as garden borders, in combination planters, or in raised beds.

Whether you’re looking to save space, or add a pop of color to your patio, marigolds make great potted plants. They have compact growing habits, and most varieties don’t get too tall or bushy – making them great options for small or large containers.

Marigolds are easy-going plants, but there are a few things to consider when potting them up. This article will go over some of the key points to consider when planting marigolds in containers.

Contents

Step 1: Choosing a Container

There are a few considerations you’ll need to make when it comes to choosing a container. You’ll have the option of choosing pots that have different materials, as well as those in different sizes. Drainage is also important. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Drainage

plastic flower pots
Make sure the container you choose has a drainage hole.

The most important thing when choosing a container is drainage. Make sure the container or pot you pick has at least one drainage hole in the bottom. They do not like to be kept too moist, allowing your pot good drainage is key to your plants health and happiness.

Plastic pots can be a great choice since they are lightweight and retain moisture well. Terra cotta or ceramic pots are a bit more pricey but last for a long time, and can allow for good drainage.

Size

Yellow and orange flowers in pots
It is recommended to choose a container at least 10 inches deep and wide.

Choosing the right sized container is another key element when picking out a container. Your container should be at least 10 inches deep and wide. If you want to plant multiple marigolds, or combine them with other flowers, the container size should increase.

If you are looking to plant other flowers along side of them, make sure the container is large enough. Most marigolds stay around 10-12 inches, but some varieties can get up to two feet tall! These varieties will benefit from a larger pot size.

Step 2: Choose the Variety

All varieties of can make great potted plants. What varies between the varieties is the color options and size of the plant – these are the things to consider when choosing your variety.

French, African, and Signet: What’s the difference?

The most common types you’ll see are French and African marigolds, which range in shades of yellow, orange, and red. Each of these marigold type will make fine potted plants, but some are going to be less common than others, and some will serve as more effective companion plants.

French Marigolds

Orange flowers in pots
This variety produces gorgeous flowers ranging from yellow to orange to red, and is the most common.

French marigolds are the most common type you’ll see. Otherwise known as Tagetes patula, they have fern-like leaves and crested flowers that range from yellow to orange to red. French marigolds tend to stay small in size, usually about 10-12 inches.

African Marigolds

Three Orange Flowers
This variety has globular orange or yellow flowers.

African marigolds, otherwise known as Tagetes erecta are another common variety. They have larger leaves, and large globe-shaped that are either yellow or orange, and grow taller than the French marigold.

These ruffled blooms tend to be larger than those of the French marigold but tend to have a shorter bloom period than some of their relatives.

Signet Marigolds

Garden grown signet marigolds
This unique variety produces simple flowers in shades of orange, red and yellow.

Also known as Tagetes tinuifolia, signet marigolds are a smaller variety that can add a different texture to the garden than that of the French and African.

They have fine, lacey foliage and small simple flowers that present warm colors: red, orange, and yellow.

Seeds vs. Transplants

While most people choose to transplant marigolds directly into their garden, growing from seed is also an option for ambitious gardeners. Let’s take a deeper look at what you can expect from each.

Seeds
Seedlings in seed trays
Their seeds germinate within a couple of weeks after sowing.

Growing marigolds from seeds is a fairly easy process, they can be sown right into your containers! Seeds should be sown when the weather has officially warmed up for the year. Sow the seeds into your container when night temperatures are fairly warm.

If night temperatures dip below 50, your seeds will take longer to germinate or may not ever germinate. Seeds will take a couple weeks to germinate, so keep this in mind if you are wanting to add other flowers into the same pot.

Transplants
Yellow flowers in pots
Be sure to protect new transplants from frost.

Transplanting marigolds into your containers is the easiest, fastest option of the two. Many nurseries will have already started marigold plants available in early spring.

If you live in a climate where a chance of frost is still possible in the spring, be sure to bring your pots in overnight or cover them with a frost cloth to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Soil

woman pouring soil to flower pot
These flowers prefer to grow in well-drained soil.

They grow best in fertile, well-draining soil. Choose a potting mix that has amendments such as perlite, vermiculite, or bark, as these components will promote good drainage.

An all purpose potting soil will work best for planting in containers, and most all purpose mixes have these amendments mixed in already.

Step 3: Combination Planting

Unique flowers in pot together
Feel free to combine these flowers in the same container with other sunny annuals.

Looking to combine other plants or flowers in the same containers with your marigolds? This is a very popular technique and they make great companions for many other flowers and even some herbs.

The key to combination planting with marigolds is allowing all flower types enough space to grow adequately. Consider the mature size of all of your plants when picking out plants and transplanting.

Marigolds are considered full sun annual plants in most hardiness zones, and go great with other full sun plants. Examples of some full sun flowering annuals are zinnias, cosmos, and ornamental grasses. They can also be planted with herbs such as basil or oregano.

Step 4: Transplanting

woman transplants marigolds into the container
Plant them not too deep in the container to avoid root rot.

To transplant, create a hole in your container where the marigold will go. Simply remove the nursery container from the plant and set it aside. Gently loosen the roots up on the plant, this will help it establish once planted.

Set the plant into the hole, and fill around the root ball – the soil line should be level with the container when it’s all said and done. You don’t want to plant too deeply, as this could cause the stem to rot. Planting not deep enough may hinder the roots from adapting to the new soil.

If you are adding other flowers to your container, I would suggest removing the plants from their containers first. I like to set all the plants in the container where I think they’ll  look best before filling in with soil. This allows you to rearrange them if need be!

Step 5: Choosing a Location

Flowers blooming in full sun
Always place these sun loving annuals in full sun.

Place your pot in a location that receives full sun. Marigolds grow best in full sun and being in a location that receives shade can hinder them from blooming or make your plants leggy. 

Step 6: Maintenance

Marigolds are low-maintenance plants once established. They will benefit from frequent deadheading and a consistent watering routine.

Deadheading

Pruning yellow flowers in garden
These annuals prefer the occasional pruning of wilted flowers.

They are easy-going plants that require little to no maintenance. They will benefit from occasional deadheading – this can promote new growth and flowers. When the old flower heads begin to fade and die off, simply remove them a couple of inches down the stem.

Water

Watering flowers in the garden
Make sure the soil dries out between waterings.

Upon transplanting, be sure to water your newly potted-up plants really well. For the first few weeks, keep them fairly moist. This will help the young plants develop new roots and get adapted. Once established, they will not require as much water.

Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings, as they do not like to sit in water. Although they can tolerate periods of drought, this doesn’t mean you should completely avoid watering your plants. A consistent watering schedule is detrimental to plant health.

Final Thoughts

Growing marigolds in a container is quite easy compared to other more picky types of flowers! There are a few things to consider when planting in pots, but can be a great option for saving garden space or adding a pop of color to your patio this season.

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