Tall marigolds – they’re a true gift to the garden! Chances are you’ve seen them in gorgeous mass plantings here and there, but maybe not at your local nursery or garden center. Why? Because it’s not easy to get these beauties to flower in those little six packs – and it’s those blooms that sell the flowers!

Yellow marigolds

Tall marigolds have huge blooms, many 3-5 inches across!

Photo Credit: Bodger Seeds

tall and short marigolds

Plant your dwarf marigolds in front of your tall ones for a stunning garden display!

Photo Credit: Gerald Burke

Marigold blooms

It’s easy to snip a few blooms out of such bounty to create a gorgeous vase of cutflowers!

Photo Credit: Gerald Burke

If you can find them, scoop a few up for your garden! Tall marigolds (also known as African marigolds or Tagetes erecta) are some of the most strikingly beautiful flowers around. They’ll give you a great display in your garden, as well as fantastic, long-lasting bouquets.

Can’t locate any in your neck of the woods? Don’t worry. You can start them yourself from seed (and watch your neighbors cry out in envy when those luscious tall beauties begin to bloom). I’ve actually had passersby spot these lovely annuals blooming in a front flower bed and stop to ask me what they were!

The good news is the seeds aren’t hard to start, and you can find them in a just about any garden center or supermarket. (You can also look online and in a variety of seed catalogs to find different colors.) Which tall marigolds are the best? Well, it probably depends on your personal preferences, but here are a few of my favorites:

The Lady Hybrid Series from Burpee was a real breakthrough when it first arrived on the market years ago, and these marigolds are still superlative. They offer blooms in orange, yellow, gold and primrose. (Orange Lady is my favorite.) These Ladies are tall, upright marigolds that reach 18-24 inches tall with blooms that measure 3-4 inches across!

Antigua Hybrids are a little shorter, coming in around 13-16 inches tall, but these quick-growing, quick-blooming beauties have got sturdy stems and flowers that reach 3 inches or more across! You’ll usually find seed packets sold as a mixture on seed racks, but you can find them online in separate colors, including gold, primrose, orange and yellow.

Harder to find but worth looking for are the Discovery and Gold Coins™ Series of marigolds. They’re really tall – reaching 3 feet! And the orange, yellow and gold blooms reach up to 5 inches across! An oldie but a goodie is ‘Sunset Giant’. This heirloom is well worth trying because it puts out 5-inch-wide blooms in gold, orange and yellow on plants that reach 25-30 inches tall!

Once you’ve got your seeds picked out, get ready to plant! Where I live in Southern California, you can sow them right into a full-sun spot in your garden from March through August. In more temperate regions of the country, start them from seed in late winter and transplant them into the garden (when they’re about 2-3 inches tall) after the last danger of frost has passed. Water them only enough so they don’t look wilted. In six weeks after transplanting, you’ll begin to have matchless flowers in great abundance!

And what’s a gardener to do with all those blooms? Create a bountiful bouquet! Tall marigolds perform magnificently as cutflowers. I’ve had them last for more than a week when they’re at their peak bloom in midsummer, and they simply shine wherever I place the vase in the house.

Here’s the scoop on getting them to last and last as cutflowers: Cut them early in the morning, then immediately place the stems in lukewarm water. When you put them in a vase, make sure there’s no foliage below the water line. And don’t forget to change the water – that’s a must. I change my vase water the first day, then every three or four days thereafter. Your blooms should add wonderful indoor color for over a week!

If you’re looking to add something truly outstanding to your garden this season, give tall marigolds a try. Sure, they take a little extra work to get started, but the magnificently big blooms and bright golden colors they bring are well worth it!