Marigolds are one of the easiest annual flowers to grow from seed. They are half-hardy, meaning they will withstand light frost in the fall and keep blooming until it gets really cold. There are several varieties and sizes but all come in sunny shades of orange, yellow and red. They can be planted with flowers, around trees and in the vegetable garden.
Choose a location in the garden to best suit the size of marigold being sown. Taller varieties should be sown in the back of the garden while small and dwarf sizes should be at the front. Tall varieties include Crackerjack and Mary Helen which grow about 3 feet tall. A popular mid-size marigold growing 1 foot in height is Brocade. Two small varieties growing only about 8 inches high are Yellow Double French Dwarf and Petite Marigolds.
Dig down and turn soil over with a shovel about 8 to 10 inches. Chop the soil into fine particles. Add compost and peat moss to make a light and airy mix.
Make a shallow indentation in the soil and sprinkle in some of the tiny seeds. If planting a border, make a shallow trench with a trowel and sprinkle the seeds in the trench.
Cover lightly with garden soil and water using a fine spray so the seeds do not become dislodged. Keep the planted area moist. Germination will occur in one to two weeks.
Thin the seedlings when they become a few inches high. Keep the strongest ones and discard the rest. Pull carefully so that the good ones are not dislodged. Tall varieties should be thinned 15 to 18 inches apart. Mid-size varieties should be thinned 10 to 12 inches apart. Small varieties should be thinned 8 to 10 inches apart.
Mulch marigolds when they get around 3 inches high to retain moisture.