Marigold flowers are commonly seen in home gardens and in window boxes and containers. Their bright yellow, orange and variegated blooms are edible and the strong scent of the marigold plants works to deter pests when planted near vegetables. An advantage of marigold plants is that they are easy to propagate from seeds and the blooms re-seed themselves with very little effort from the gardener.
Marigold seeds are simple to identify because they have a unique appearance. The black or brown seeds are long and slender with a tip that resembles a tiny tuft of straw. The seed looks a lot like a very small broom. Marigold seeds can vary slightly in size, some of them being shorter and fatter while others are longer, but they all have the same common broom shape and are very easy to handle during planting.
Purchasing Marigold Seeds
Marigold seeds can be acquired at gardening stores and catalogs. The only challenge a gardener has when looking for marigold seeds is narrowing down the choices. Marigolds come in an array of colors and sizes. A way to get marigold seeds for free is to let your plant’s blooms go to seed at the end of the season, or ask a neighbor who is already growing marigolds if they would mind sharing the seeds their plants produce.
Collecting Seeds from Plants
As you remove spent marigold blooms, allow some of them to remain. The blooms will turn to seed in a few weeks. Don't collect the seeds right away. Allow them to dry out until the seeds look and feel dry. The dried seeds should fall easily off the stem and into your hands. Spread the seeds carefully over newspaper indoors and allow them to dry for up to a week before storing the seeds in a paper envelope.
Plant seeds indoors four to six weeks before planting time or sow directly in the garden after all danger of frost. Marigold seeds like rich, light gardening soil and they will grow well in containers. Plant the seeds in a sunny location 1/4-inch deep and thin them out when they are about 2 inches tall. The shorter varieties of marigolds should be growing 12 inches apart and the taller ones should be 2 feet apart.
Instead of collecting the seeds for future plantings, you can allow the marigold to re-seed itself right where it is planted. All you need to do is let some of the blooms go to seed and allow the seeds to grow right where they drop. Water as normal, not allowing the ground to completely dry out, and the seeds will sprout and grow on their own throughout the growing season. Thin them out when they are 2 inches tall.