Tagete - Tagetes


Genus of 50 species of herbaceous plants, annual and perennial, of which some horticultural species and hybrids are cultivated in the borders and in the flower beds, with simple heads, similar to those of daisies, or double, similar to the flowers of the carnation.
They are excellent plants for producing cut flowers, which last long immersed in water.
THE marigold (also known as India carnations, meaning the American continent with India) are flowers widely used in gardens and pots, thanks above all to their great ease of cultivation. This is matched by the quality of flowering for a long time.
It should be noted that they are very pleasant flowers also for the composition of bunches to take home or for potpourri. In the first case they have the advantage of lasting a long time, even 15 days. However, it must be emphasized that not everyone likes its rather intense and robustly wild perfume.
The marigold arrived in Europe in the fourteenth century mainly from Mexico. The genus includes about 30 perennial species in places of origin, but we consider annual, since it comes from tropical or subtropical areas.


It has no particular needs with regard to the terrain. Fears water stagnation. These herbaceous plants live well in fairly light and poor soils. The substrates too rich (especially in nitrogen) stimulate an excessive production of leaves at the expense of flowering. In the dwarf varieties the extreme richness of the soil can induce a disproportionate growth and consequently the stems could bend to the first storm.
It is therefore good to choose a soil with a good percentage of sand both in the flower beds and in the containers.
In pots it is always advisable to prepare a good draining layer on the bottom, composed of gravel, expanded clay or other suitable material.

Family and gender
Asteraceae, gen tagetes
Type of plant Annual or perennial herbaceous
Exposure Sun
Rustic Not rustic
Ground Not demanding, possibly poor and well drained
colors Yellow, orange, red
Irrigation slight
Flowering From June to October, but varies according to the species
Composting Unneeded in full earth, lightly potted once a month
Use in the garden Borders, flower beds, formal compositions, in containers, ground cover, in the garden


Tagete fertilizers are necessary during flowering, they are administered with water every two weeks. In the ground they are rarely necessary. However you can distribute, if you want, a fertilizer that brings a good amount of potassium (to encourage flowering and coloring). In any case we avoid fertilizers with a high nitrogen content for the reasons already highlighted above.
In pots you can be a little more generous, giving a liquid product for flowering plants about once a month.


The marigold is sown under glass, in March-April, covering just the seeds, at a temperature of 18 ° C; germination occurs rapidly. When the seedlings are large enough they are put back in trays and are made stronger in a cold box. They settle down at the end of May.
The marigolds can be sown starting from February, continuing until April, depending on the climate and the availability of a slightly heated greenhouse.
You can use cassettes with a light and well-aerated soil or use alveolar trays. The substratum should always be kept moist by frequent spraying or by keeping the containers always immersed in a finger of water. Just remember to keep an adequate temperature and also a good ventilation, to avoid the onset of possible molds. Germination occurs on average in 2 weeks, but is strongly influenced by temperature.
In any case, the marigold plants will be replaced or in any case transferred to their final home as soon as possible. If they are in a jar, they can easily reach the flowering stage because the plant bears transplantation well, as long as the ground loaf remains intact.
Once at home it will not be difficult to see a good and fast expansion: the self-dissemination is in fact very frequent and it often happens to find new plants in the garden coming from crops of previous years.
Some varieties (such as glossy marigold) can also be sown in autumn, always if a cold greenhouse is available. In this way it will be very easy to have flowering plants already at the beginning of summer. This variety also lends itself well to cutting (with apical portions in very aerated soil) useful for obtaining plants identical to mothers to overcome the bad season.


Sunny. The best exposure for i tagetes it is always full sun. In this position they will be able to flourish profusely and for a long time. In any case, they also adapt rather well to the partial shade, perhaps present only during the morning hours.


The marigolds fear the cold especially the young plants, so it will be good to bring them outdoors only in the warm period.

Pests and diseases

The most dangerous are the aphids. Marigolds are very healthy flowers and rarely need special attention or treatment. Occasionally they are affected by aphids, but an intervention to bring the situation under control is practically never imperative.


Patula marigold (carnation of India). From Mexico. Height and diameter 30-40 cm. Annual species, semirustica, bushy, compact, with deeply divided leaves, dark green. The heads are simple, crimson-brown or yellow, 4-5 cm wide. bloom from July to early autumn.
T. tenuifolia, sin. T. signata. From Mexico. Height 60 cm, distance between plants 30 cm. Annual, semirustic species, with thin branches and finely divided leaves, light green, which give off a sweetish aroma. The flower heads, yellow, 2.5 cm wide, bloom from July to September.

Cultivation techniques

As we have said, cultivation is the simplest. And this is why it is widely used in flower beds, borders or vases to fill spaces that otherwise would remain bare. These plants are grown in all well-drained, dry, not too fertile soils, and in the sun. Some hybrids, bloom early and for a longer period of time, if, after sowing, the plants are given 8 hours of light a day, for 30 days.


They are absolutely not rustic plants and should therefore be treated in practically all of our country as annuals. They are sown when the temperatures are already quite high (so at least in mid-spring) and with the right care you can keep them beautiful until at least October-November, after which they will inevitably wither.


Very regular but moderate, given so that the plant does not suffer drought. The marigolds are herbaceous ideal for gardens with low environmental impact and for those who do not want to intervene assiduously to keep their green space beautiful. In fact they prefer a rather dry substratum (like the one that can be found in their native habitats). Generally speaking, in the middle of the earth it is rare that action should be taken.
In the container we will only supply water when the soil is completely dry. The ideal are large administrations alternated with long droughts.
Excessive hydration can even be counterproductive, especially for dwarf varieties. These, in fact, coming too much in contact with the damp base, could get to rot.

Crop care

They are rather autonomous annuals. If you wish you can also not intervene and they will look nice.
Because flowering always follows one another in an abundant way (and to avoid excessive self-dissemination) it may be a good idea to commit weekly to cleaning the faded heads. This will prevent the plant from wasting energy for ovary maturation.
If we want to collect some seeds to use the following vintage, we can partially or totally suspend this operation in the middle of September.

Tagetes erecta

Annual species, upright, vigorous, rustic, branched, suitable for borders, for flower beds and for producing cut flowers. Rustic shrub, with thin, green, glossy branches. It is the only species belonging to its genus and is a plant that in Italy, in addition to being cultivated as an ornamental plant, is often naturalized to build hedges, especially in the area of ​​the lakes of Como and Iseo, at altitudes not exceeding 600 m
flower of death, polecat, rose of india.
Sunny. young plants fear the cold very much, so they should be planted outdoors only when there is no longer any danger of frost.
from 30 cm to 1 m
They are deeply divided, shiny, oval, sharp and alternate, they are slightly toothed and have a beautiful deep green color
The flowers
Similar heads, usually yellow
Regular, but moderate, about three times a week, even during the flowering period.
During flowering it is necessary to add a good liquid fertilizer to the watering system every two weeks.
They multiply only by seed. Sowing takes place in March under glass at a temperature of 18 ° C; It is enough to just cover the seeds with soil and they will germinate very quickly. The seedlings should be re-seasoned in trays, cultivated in a cold box until May, when they can be permanently moved to a distance between the plants 30-40 cm.
It can be planted in all soils that are well drained, dry and not too fertile.
Pests and diseases
the aphids cause the deformation of the plant, which develops in a stunted manner.

In the vegetable garden and in the garden, useful against nematodes

Marigolds are highly regarded by both gardeners and gardeners. Their roots, in fact, have the particular characteristic of emitting substances capable of killing nematodes. They are therefore widely inserted in the vicinity of the roses and of all those plants that suffer particularly from the presence of these animals in the subsoil.
They are also used to reclaim land that was excessively exploited in the past, in particular for the cultivation of solanaceae, such as tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines.


As we have said, the genus includes about 30 species, mostly annual in our climate. However, being a plant widely used in green areas and having enjoyed great appreciation, especially in the mid-twentieth century, they have been the target of research by the breeders. A large number of cultivars suitable for many different uses and tastes are therefore available on the market.
Here are the most widespread botanical species in cultivation.

Patula marigold

Marigold patula also known as puzzolina, Indian carnation minor or Italian carnation. It blooms from July to October and on average reaches 50 cm in height.
It is a plant endowed with large glands and by handling it one immediately perceives a strong odor, to the most unpleasant. The stems bear divergent branches from the base and form rather dense bushes. It has alternate or opposite, smooth, carved leaves. The flowers are solitary at the apex of the peduncles. The outer petals develop into extended tongues, those of the disk or tubes in tubes. The average diameter of the flower heads is 5 cm. Some very popular and widespread varieties are dainty and Naughty Marietta.

Marigold tenuifolia

Marigold tenuifolia very aromatic plants, up to 70 cm high. They bloom in midsummer, from July to October. They form very pleasant bushes that branch from the base. The stalks are very delicate and the leaves are alternate or opposite, but always elegantly carved, almost thread-like. The flower heads are very small, delicate and elegant. The diameter is about 3 centimeters. The oval tongues are 4 or 5, less than a centimeter wide and stained at the base with purple or orange. The varieties in cultivation today have been specially selected and hybridized to take on a small size, therefore more compact and less subject to flattening due to wind or rain.

Glossy marigold

It is a perennial, but almost everywhere in our climates it is grown as an annual. It has a rather compact habit and size, as it generally reaches 30 to 50 cm. It blooms from August to November (but also in December, especially in the southern regions where winters are more lenient).
Extremely small, golden or orange yellow flower holder. Usually the tabs are three. The effect of fullness is however given by the great abundance of flower heads, gathered in apical corymbs. The stems are straight, gathered in a bush and branch to the top. The leaves are alternate or opposite, lanceolate, whole or regularly serrated.
The plant is strongly aromatic to the point that touching it gives off a strong scent that is appreciated by many people.
Resists very well to the first cold and then blooms for a very long period, even in the northern regions. Very beautiful as a cutting plant for making natural-looking decks.
In many countries (for example in France and Germany) its flowers are used to flavor cold vegetables and salads. It is also common to use leaves and flower heads to flavor oil, vinegar or other seasonings.