Dwarf or French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are among the easiest of annual flowers to grow whether from seed or transplanting plants. Cheerful and colorful with pungently aromatic flowers and foliage, pops of yellow, orange and rusty red colored blossoms are well-received in flower borders, containers and sunny window boxes. Provide these plants with at least six hours of direct sunlight a day in a fertile, moist but well-draining soil when there is no danger of frost.
Growing from Seed
Create a small furrow with your finger in the garden soil, with a depth of 1/4 inch. The furrow may be in any design although many prefer making a straight row. If starting seeds indoors, fill the container so tamped soil rests 1/2-inch below the rim edge on the container's top.
Place the thin but holdable marigold seeds in the furrow, 1 to 2 inches apart. Nestle the seed into the base of the furrow so that it lays flat. Do not push the seed deeper below the depth of the furrow basin.
Brush the soil back atop the seeds, filling the furrow so that the seeds are 1/4 inch below the soil surface. Lightly tamp over the furrow to ensure soil comes in contact with the seeds.
Gently sprinkle water over the planted seeds so that the soil is moist, not soggy.
Monitor the row of planted seeds, sprinkling water over it as needed over the next seven to 14 days so that the soil remains damp, never becoming bone dry or remaining soggy. Germination of the seeds may be as quickly as four to seven days if soil temperatures are warm.
Retain the same watering regimen as the seedlings emerge from the soil. Ensure the soil is receiving lots of direct sunlight.
Monitor the young seedlings for rotting of stems, which may indicate overwatering or wet, chilly soil temperatures. Watch also for slugs, which will eat tender marigold stems and leaves at night.
Allow the marigolds to grow in the row in the location where they sprouted. Pull out any seedlings to transplant elsewhere in the garden, or to merely make more room for other marigolds as they expand and take up space in the row.
Planting Seedlings or Starter Plugs
Replant pulled seedlings from Section 1 by creating a small hole in the garden soil with your finger or small trowel tip and holding the seedling in the hole. Make sure the seedling is held at a similar depth as it was growing while soil is replaced around it with the trowel or your other hand. Gently push the lush soil around the seedling so there are no air pockets. Sprinkle water around the transplant immediately.
Purchase dwarf marigold plants from a garden center that are healthy and not rotting in their plastic plug packs or 4-inch containers.
Dig a small hole with a trowel that matches the size of the rootball of the marigold in the purchased plug pack or small container.
Remove the marigold from its container, and with your fingers, pinch the rootball to lightly tear the fibrous roots before placing it into the hole. This gently nipping of the roots encourages new root growth out into the soil in the planting hole.
Place the marigold in the hole at the same depth it has been growing. Replace soil around the rootball in the hole, ensuring excess soil is not piled atop the rootball or buries the plant's step. Planting too deeply leads to stem rot and plant death.
Sprinkle water around the newly transplanted marigold so the soil becomes moist and air pockets are removed.
Monitor the plants over the next two to four weeks, watering to keep the soil moist, but never soggy. Provide lots of sunlight and watch the plants grow, eventually to flower within three to six weeks.