How to Germinate Marigold Seeds


Ranging from yellow and orange to a deep rust red, marigolds are striking in borders and containers. An annual bedding plant, marigolds range in size from small dwarf blooms to large bobbing flowers. They begin blooming in mid-summer and continue to do so prolifically until after the first frost of the year. The least expensive way to grow marigolds, especially if you need a lot for a bed or border, is to germinate them from seed indoors and transplant them outside in later spring or early summer.

Things You'll Need

  • Pots
  • Potting soil
  • Vermiculite
  • Plastic wrap
  • Grow lights
  • Fertilizer
  • Fill small seed-starting pots or flats with a sterilized potting mix to within 1 inch of the container's rim. Use containers with drainage holes in the bottom.

  • Sow three seeds per pot or sow in a grouping of three spaced 3 inches apart in seed-starting flats. Sow on the soil surface and cover with 1/4 inch of vermiculite.

  • Water the soil until evenly moist throughout. Cover in plastic wrap and place in a warm room to germinate. Germination takes approximately 5 to 7 days.

  • Remove the plastic wrap once seedlings appear. Place marigold seedlings in a warm, sunny window or under grow lights. Keep soil moist at all times.

  • Transplant marigolds outside or to their permanent containers once the last expected frost date for your area is past. Choose a well-draining bed in full sun and add 1 tsp. of general fertilizer per square foot at planting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Space small marigold varieties 4 inches apart and large varieties 10 to 12 inches apart when transplanting to their permanent bed. While unproven, marigolds are said to prevent insects in the garden and they are often planted as a companion around vegetable plants. If all three seeds germinate in a grouping, remove the two weakest seedlings once the third set of leaves grows in. Pinch off the top set of leaves on each marigold stem if they are becoming leggy or unkempt appearing.
  • Remember to check pots daily for germination. Leaving the plastic wrap on once sprouts appear will kill the young seedlings.

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