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'Queen Sofia' marigold
'Queen Sofia' marigold

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Firey bed of marigolds
Firey bed of marigolds

Tagetes

Marigold
Asteraceae (Compositae)
Annuals, Perennials

Native to Mexico, Central America. Robust, free-branching, nearly trouble-free plants ranging from 6 in. to 6 ft. tall, with flowers from pale yellow through gold to orange and brownish maroon.

Finely divided, ferny, usually strongly scented leaves. Annuals will bloom early summer to frost if old flowers are picked off; in the desert, they bloom best from fall until frost.

Handsome, long-lasting cut flowers; strong aroma from leaves, stems, and flowers permeates a room (some odorless varieties are available).

Easy to grow from seed, which sprouts in a few days in warm soil; to get earlier bloom, start seeds in containers indoors or buy nursery plants. Smog will damage tender young plants, but they soon toughen up.

Tagetes erecta
Tagetes erecta

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Tagetes erecta

Original strains were single-flowered plants 3–4 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Modern strains are more varied; most have fully double flowers.

Tagetes patula

Varieties from 6 in. to 1 1/2 ft. high and wide, in flower colors from yellow to rich maroon brown. Blossoms may be fully double or single; many are strongly bicolored.

Tagetes tenuifolia

Infrequently grown species. Flowers are small (just 1 in.wide) and single, but bloom is incredibly profuse. Finely cut foliage. Gem strain offers golden yellow, lemon yellow, and tangerine orange blossoms on 10–12-in.-tall plants.

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