French Marigold – Tagetes patula

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French Marigold – Tagetes patula

Common Name: French Marigold

Botanical Name: Tagetes patula, ta-GAY-teez PAT-ew-la

Decorative Life: Many weeks to months.

Flower Color: , ,


Harvest Instructions:

Borch, Brown and Lynch (1998) showed that lower levels of phosphorus fertilization (up to 30 times less than normal fertilization schedules) can improve postharvest performance as measured by less wilting. Namely, they are more tolerant to drought. Plugs can be stored for 3 weeks in the dark (6 weeks in light) at 41F and subsequently grown into very acceptable plants and/or flowers. Deeper and larger volume growing containers can improve shelf life.

Family Roots:
  • Member of the Asteraceae or Compositae (aster family).
  • Native to Mexico and Central America.
  • Common relatives include Calendula, Cosmos, Dahlia, Zinnia and lettuce.
  • Flowers are single or more often double, up to 2 inches across, at stem ends.
  • Stems generally hollow, leafy, 12-18 inches long.
  • Plant is a annual, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
  • Flower fragrance is pungent.
Storage Specifics:

Storage temperature depends on the night growing temperature. For example, plants grown at 50F night temperatures can be stored at 50-70F for 17 days while those grown at 60 or 70F could only be stored 10-14 days.

  • 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 “patula” means spreading.
  • 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. 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.
  • Leaves have a distinct fragrance (odor) that one often loves or hates. 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.
Recent Research Findings:

Latimer (1991) demonstrated that the use of growth retardants by growers offers little benefit and may even reduce plant and flower quality once planted in the landscape. Therefore, growers should consider both the production and postharvest affects of growth regulators before applying them. In another 1991 Latimer paper, she showed that landscape performance of marigolds is sensitive to both root restriction and transplant size but that container shape has little influence.