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Tagetes erecta

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Kemper Code:  A609

Common Name: African marigold
Zone: 2 to 11
Plant Type: Annual
Family: Asteraceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: Mexico, Central America
Height: 1 to 4 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Bloom Time: June - To frost  
Bloom Color: Yellow, orange, and whitish
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low

Plant Culture and Characteristics

Sources for this plant

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture: Click for monthly care information.

Annual. Easily grown in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as St. Louis. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date or purchase plants in cell/six packs from local nurseries. Set plants out after last frost date. Plant taller varieties deep: strip off a few of the lower stem leaves and set plants below the remaining leaf scars so as to minimize the need for stem support. pinch young plants to promote bushy growth. Promptly deadhead spent flowers. Site tall varieties in locations sheltered from strong winds and heavy rains.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Although native to Mexico and Central America, this species is most often commonly called African marigold (Aztec marigold, American marigold and big marigold are also sometimes used). Big marigold may be the best descriptive name because plants are noted for their large flowerheads. They typically grow from 1-4 tall and feature huge, mostly double-globular flowers (2-4 diameter) in various shades of yellow, orange, and whitish. Pinnate leaves on glabrous, angular stems. Foliage and flowers are aromatic when brushed or crushed. Triploid F1 hybrids (T. erecta x T. patula) combine the large flowers of the African marigold with the more compact size of the French marigold into vigorous plants featuring 2-3 diameter flowers on stems rising 10-18 tall. These triploids seem unaffected by high summer heat and generally bloom throughout the summer


Susceptible to powdery mildew, Botrytis, leaf spot and rots. Taller varieties may need staking or other support. Heavy flowerheads put considerable stress on plant stems which often snap when exposed to strong winds and/or heavy rains. Watch for spider mites and thrips.


Beds, edgings, containers.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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