Garden Photo of the Day

Marigolds: No Green Thumb Required

Lots of flowers grown with ease

Today we’re visiting Natasha Grover’s garden in Chicago.

marigoldsI started gardening three years ago and tried different flowers. Although I love flowers, I do not have a green thumb. My impatiens were eaten by Japanese beetles, and my petunias became leggy.

I tried marigolds (Tagetes patula) two years ago and found that they are the best-kept secret. I get a lot of rabbits and Japanese beetles, and these plants survived both!

In addition, they bloom from June all the way to mid-October here in Chicago. I keep on deadheading them everyday, and last year I collected 4 gallons worth of seeds. This year I did not purchase marigolds but sprinkled the seeds that I had collected the previous year. My front yard is filled with them now. What I love about them is the uniqueness of each flower.

different color marigoldsMarigolds range from yellow to nearly red and every shade of orange in between. (Editor’s note: If you, like Natasha, enjoy saving seeds from your marigolds or other annuals, you can shift the color range to your favorite shades by just saving seeds from the plants that flower in the colors you like best.)

Marigolds everywhere!

morning gloryI also love my morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) that is from seed. Although an annual, it keeps on coming back every year!

This year I tried to make a flower tower using petunias. Mine did not bloom as fully as I had seen on Pinterest, and I had some of the plants die, but it still is blooming. My goal next year is to learn to make a full cascading basket, give another go at the flower tower (maybe try different flowers), and plant more marigolds!


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 09/28/2020

    Well your post was most refreshing. Nice to hear of someone who also has a less than perfect experience attempting to garden. I loved the marigolds and will now seek out some seeds for next year. Thanks for tip!

  2. garden1953 09/28/2020

    Very pretty!

  3. Carolyn3134 09/28/2020

    Marigolds have been my favorite flower since my mother first showed me how to save the seeds! Marigold POWER!!

  4. rosys_villa 09/28/2020

    You may not think you have a green thumb but with only three years it looks as if you are well on your way! 😊

  5. User avater
    cynthia2020 09/28/2020

    Natasha - I loved your gardening story and seeing the masses of marigolds. Four gallons of seeds - that made me smile!

  6. cheryl_c 09/28/2020

    Natasha, you have already learned a lesson that it takes some of us a decade or more to learn - go with your strengths. Even well into 30 years of gardening, I am tempted to find some new plant to fill an open spot, but have learned that dividing some of the plants that are doing well (asters, sedum, agastache) or getting a different variety not only is more likely to be successful, but gives the repetition and rhythm to a garden that pulls it all together. Bravo, tho, for trying new projects - that is also a lesson to learn!

    1. User avater
      cynthia2020 09/28/2020

      Re: I am tempted to find some new plant to fill an open spot, but have learned that dividing some of the plants that are doing well (asters, sedum, agastache) or getting a different variety not only is more likely to be successful, but gives the repetition and rhythm to a garden that pulls it all together.

      Cheryl - I concur. :-)

  7. katherine_8 09/28/2020

    If your Impatiens were eaten by Japanese beetles that is not your fault. Petunias start to became leggy mid-summer but can be refreshed if kept deadheaded and trimmed - they will start to put out new leaves and flower again. That goes for Marigolds too. Keep them deadheaded. Near the mid to end of summer the leaves might look scorched, depending on how much sun they receive. You might think they are dead and be tempted to discard them (I'm more so referring to being in containers since I live in a high-rise and have container plants). Take your scissors and remove all the dead/scorched leaves. When I do this often only them stem is left and maybe a flower on top. They will reward you by producing lovely new lacy leaves and start to bloom again. I discovered this by trial & error. It is almost October and I am having a new flurry of marigolds :) This year I am harvesting the seeds from my marigold plants. They look like miniature paint brushes!! It's really fun to harvest your own seeds and very easy with the help of YouTube videos. Your flowers are beautiful. You're doing a great job :)

    1. katherine_8 09/28/2020

      Sorry Natasha, I see that you do harvest and grow your own seeds. My oversight.

  8. User avater
    simplesue 09/28/2020

    Those LITTLE Marigolds are so BIG in a nice group like you planted them!
    Just gorgeous!!!

  9. user-5117752 09/28/2020

    You ARE doing a great job! Those marigolds are simply marvelous! I love the different colors. And the fact that you grow them from seeds and get such a display, is amazing to me. I've been gardening for 20 years and rarely have had success with seeds, at least not sowing directly in the ground and I'm too lazy to make little trays, etc.. All gardening is trial and error. You'll find your way soon enough!

    1. User avater
      cynthia2020 09/28/2020

      Re: rarely have had success with seeds

      I feel your pain... This year I had plenty of time to experiment. I really liked it that I got several Asclepias incarnata Irresistible Blend milkweed to grow (but not flower). I was excited to see Monarch caterpillars eating the leaves one day. I felt happy to help the butterfly population - even though it was such a minor thing.

  10. btucker9675 09/28/2020

    Love your marigolds! Especially the ones that are close to dark red. What a pretty garden.

  11. User avater
    bdowen 09/28/2020

    I love this garden! Marigolds are one of my favorites too. I love the colors and have been saving the seeds from my favorites for over fifty years. What a cheery, welcoming garden you have created for your home.

    1. User avater
      bdowen 09/30/2020

      Natasha, Not sure how to message you directly but I wanted you to know that thinking about your quarts of seeds inspired me to go out and deadhead the marigolds and save even more seeds. Thank you for your post.

  12. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/28/2020

    My mother grew marigolds for as long as I can remember -- well, she has passed & I still remember. However, she would take the dried heads of the last flowers of the season & crumble them all across her flower bed. Of course, she lived in zone 8b so I suppose that was fine for her to do. Your pics brought back lots of sweet memories of her.

  13. User avater
    cynthia2020 09/28/2020

    Re: lots of sweet memories

    I picked out some marigolds for my reluctant gardener daughter in Chicago early this summer. We live far from each other and I love remembering the day we took to prepare the pots, the ground, and also to get the weeds and trash out of her city yard she shares with two other families in the small apartment building. We had a great time!
    She is enjoying her plants - including some volunteer morning glories - and gives me updates on the marigolds and the other flowers she picked out.
    A neighbor saw her gardening and offered to give her some tools.

  14. [email protected] 09/28/2020

    When we lived in Littleton, Colo. many years ago, we would just pull up the spent marigolds and shake them out over the big bed, and back they would come, every year, with no more effort than that. Thanks for sharing your experience and pictures!

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