African Marigold – Tagetes erecta

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Common Name: African Marigold

Botanical Name: Tagetes erecta, ta-GAY-teez e-REK-ta

Decorative Life: About 7-10 days.

Flower Color: ,

Availability: ,

Harvest Instructions:

Treating with the growth retardant Uniconazole for plug height control during production does not adversely affect subsequent growth and flowering.

Family Roots:
  • Member of the Asteraceae or Compositae (aster family).
  • Native to Mexico and Central America.
  • Common relatives include calendula, cosmos, dahlia, zinnia and strawflower.
  • Flowers single or more often double, up to 2 inches across, at stem ends.
  • Stems hollow, leafy, 24-32 inches long.
  • Plant is an annual, classed as a dicotyledon.
  • Flowers have a somewhat pungent odor, as do the leaves.
Storage Specifics:

In one study it is reported that 34-36F is best, but not recommended for long periods. In another study, French marigolds stored better at 40F compared to 33F.

  • Named for Tages, an Etruscan deity, the grandson of Jupiter, who sprang from the ploughed earth. The Compositae or aster family is vast, with over 20,000 species, and is also one of the most developed families. It was named Compositae because the flowers are actually a “composite” of many individual flowers into one head. Hence, when children pull one “petal” off at a time, saying “she/he loves me, loves me not”, they are actually removing a complete flower, not just a petal.
  • Scent of foliage deters insects, roots exude chemical that repels soil nematodes. Marigolds often interplanted with crops or other ornamentals for pest control. The specific epithet name “erecta” means upright.
  • Appropriately named “Mary”s Gold,” these were the flowers of the Virgin Mary and were used to decorate church altars. Sometimes fed to chickens to improve yolk color.
  • Suitable for drying. According to Creasy (1999), fresh petals are edible. Can be used in deviled eggs and butter and sprinkled over broccoli and other strong flavored vegetables.
  • T. erecta are generally taller, have bigger flowers and their flowers often consist of one color whereas T. patula are shorter, smaller and have bicolored flowers.
Recent Research Findings:

Using ‘Little Devil Mix’, Latimer and Oetting (1999) showed that water stressed plants promoted increased aphid populations whereas low nitrogen fertilization reduced aphid levels.