Smith County Master Gardener
Tagetes erecta, or African Marigold has come to be called “Merrymum.”
This marigold grows to 3 feet tall and bears huge balls of either yellow or orange really showy flowers. Most people plant marigolds in early spring and by mid-summer they are often riddled with spidermites.
Marigolds like heat and the ground in early spring is often too cool, especially if you grab them when they first come on the market in February and March.
Wait until the ground warms up to plant them or better yet, plant seeds in August for lots of fall color. Marigolds really do better planted from seeds. A plant from seeds will outgrow a transplant by leaps and bounds.
The seeds are dirt cheap and for a 25 cent package, you can have a couple of dozen plants. Barely cover the seeds and keep them slightly damp — not wet. They will sprout in a week or less and be ready to bloom in a month or less.
They are drought tolerant, but will take regular watering as long as the soil drains well.
They will take light frost and often last into early winter.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants in the Tyler Rose Garden.