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How to sow and grow African marigold

African marigolds are the best neighbour plants for your vegetable garden. They improve the soil, ward off nematodes, and attract tons of bees and butterflies.
Marigolds: good for your other plants and bees too

What are African marigolds?

African marigolds - officially called 'Tagetes' - are (usually) annual plants with yellow, orange, or red flowers. They are popular as bedding plants because they bloom from summer until well into fall.

But you also see them a lot in the vegetable garden because they're helpful to other plants and vegetables. They keep harmful insects and nematodes away.

This marigold variety comes from warmer climates in Central America and Mexico originally. They can be found there in the wild. They were only given the name African marigolds when the Spanish brought them to Europe. The Moors in Spain also used them a lot in their gardens.

What do you need to grow your own African marigolds?

Here's everything you need to grow African marigolds:
  • a 30x30 cm patch with airy, nutrient-rich soil mix
  • African marigold seeds
  • a place with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day
In other words, an MM-Mini, or a square patch in one of our garden boxes, filled with MM-Mix.

Growing marigolds in this perfect soil mix is super easy. If you use poor-quality (potting) soil, it's much harder and the results will be disappointing. So just go for the best 😉

More about our marigold seeds

Our African Marigolds are large, beautiful, compact plants that produce tons of yellow-orange flowers well into autumn. These are single flowers, so butterflies, bees, and bumblebees can easily reach the honey. Your average double-flowered marigolds aren't as easy for them to access.

You can sow marigolds outdoors, but since the seeds can be hesitant to sprout and snails love the seedlings, we prefer to pre-sow them indoors, then plant them outside when they're bigger.

Note: Unlike summer vegetables, the African marigold doesn't really like much warmth when they're trying to grow in the early stages. So put the pots with seedlings preferably in a light but unheated place.

The app offers instructions for pre-sowing from March to May.

  • Species name: Tagetes Naughty Mariette
  • Family: flower
  • Plants per square patch: 1
  • Height: 25 to 45 cm
  • Pre-sowing time: March to May
  • Sowing depth: max. 0.5 cm
  • Germination time: from 18°C in 7 to 21 days
  • Time to bloom: after 10 weeks
  • Sunlight: preferably sun, but otherwise semi-shade

Want to buy marigold seeds? We sell bags of marigold seeds separately in the shop.
Afrikaantjes zijn prima buurplanten voor andere groentes (foto Sonja-MM)

How to sow and grow marigold?

Our African marigold is included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next.

So you don't need to know how to grow marigolds before you start: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:

Level 1: Pre-sowing African marigolds

African marigold seedlings struggle outdoors. They often get eaten up by snails and other pests.

So, we sow the plants indoors first and only put them in a garden box when they're strong enough. That's called pre-sowing.

For pre-sowing you use 2 MM-Airpots with equal parts MM-Mix and vermiculite.

Plant some seeds in each pot and put them on the windowsill.

Level 2 and 3: African marigold seedlings

As soon as you see the first seedlings, you know things are going well. They probably won't all come up at once, but just give it another week or 2. Sometimes it may take a little longer.

Then put the pots in a light but unheated place: they won't do nearly as well if it's too warm.

At level 3, you thin out your seedlings. Leave the best seedling in each pot and ruthlessly cut away the rest. It might sound harsh, but it's necessary. You're giving the remaining plants enough room to grow.
Zaailingen van afrikaantjes: klaar om uit te dunnen

Level 4: Caring for your plants on the windowsill

By now your seedlings have become small plants. For the next few weeks, make sure that your plants:
  • get a lot of light
  • are not too warm (they'll also grow well with a cold frame)
  • get enough water
Young African marigolds in a cold frame

Level 5-9: Let the plants get used to the outdoors

In the second half of May, you let the plants get used to being outdoors. Take the pots outside for a little longer every day.

By the last level, they've been outside the whole day and only come inside at night.

Level 10: Transfer the most beautiful plant

When your plants have gotten used to being outside, you can transfer the best-looking of them to your garden box or MM-Mini.

After transplanting, there isn't much more to do: your plants pretty much grow by themselves.

Plant your African marigold next to carrots, parsley, and/or kale plants. It protects the first 2 nematodes in the soil mix.

It does something else for the kale plants. Since the flowers have a sharp smell, butterflies don't pick up the scent of the kale as much and they're less likely to lay their eggs on your kale plants. It helps, but it's no guarantee, so keep an eye on them anyway 🙂
Net overgezet naar de MM-bak

Level 11: Flowering marigolds

About 10 weeks after sowing, you'll see the first buds and flowers.

From now on the plants will continue to bloom. Cut back wilting or dead flowers and the stems will continue to bloom.
Flowering marigolds attract beneficial insects

The end of the season

At the end of the growing season, you'll receive a last notification from the app. By then the plant probably looks pretty sad and doesn't have many flowers left.

If the plant gets really ugly then remove it completely. Tidy up your empty patch, and get ready to sow something new.
Afrikaantje tegen het einde van de zomer

So, what's stopping you from growing your own marigolds?

They look great, add color to your garden box, and attract tons of pollinators to your garden.

Plus: with our app and materials, it's almost impossible to fail 😉

Order your marigold seeds from the shop or get started with a complete starter kit:
Enjoy your African marigolds!

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