Tagetes erecta
Common Name: African marigold 
Type: Annual
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Mexico, Central America
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to frost
Bloom Description: Yellow, orange, and whitish
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil


Annual. Easily grown in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates such as St. Louis. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date or purchase plants in cell/six packs from local nurseries. Set plants out after last frost date. Plant taller varieties deep: strip off a few of the lower stem leaves and set plants below the remaining leaf scars so as to minimize the need for stem support. pinch young plants to promote bushy growth. Promptly deadhead spent flowers. Site tall varieties in locations sheltered from strong winds and heavy rains.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tagetes erecta, commonly called African marigold, Aztec marigold, American marigold or big marigold, is native to Mexico and Central America. Big marigold may be the best descriptive name because plants are noted for their large flowerheads. They typically grow from 1-4’ tall and feature huge, mostly double-globular flowers (2-4” diameter) in various shades of yellow, orange, and whitish. Pinnate leaves on glabrous, angular stems. Foliage and flowers are aromatic when brushed or crushed. Triploid F1 hybrids (T. erecta x T. patula) combine the large flowers of the African marigold with the more compact size of the French marigold into vigorous plants featuring 2-3” diameter flowers on stems rising 10-18” tall. These triploids seem unaffected by high summer heat and generally bloom throughout the summer.

Genus named for an Etruscan deity, Tages.

Specific epithet means erect or upright.


Susceptible to powdery mildew, Botrytis, leaf spot and rots. Taller varieties may need staking or other support. Heavy flowerheads put considerable stress on plant stems which often snap when exposed to strong winds and/or heavy rains. Watch for spider mites and thrips.


Beds, edgings, containers.