Marigolds or Calendula as they are formally known are a staple in the English garden. They are easy to grow, great for a children’s garden as they provide an abundance of colour.

Growing up, I can always remember marigolds in my Grandfather’s garden. So much so that I still remember the jam jars outside the back door, full of seeds, that he had dried from the year before. Not only did this ensure that he had he same variety but on reflection, it was a very sustainable way of gardening and creating great displays.

Marigolds are great in a children’s garden because they can get involved in all aspects of growing the flowers. They will be able to sow the seeds, pot them on and plant them out. Once they are out in the garden, they will also require regular deadheading to keep the growth coming.

Marigolds are also a great plant for attracting bees to the garden.

Marigolds Growing

What you need to know

Sow between: March & May

What you will need: Seeds, compost & containers (if growing them in containers), a rake and a trowel.

Where does it grow: Marigolds (Calendula) very much enjoy growing in a full sun position in well drained soil. They are equally happy growing in containers, vegetable gardens and borders.

Likes: Full sun, in well drained soil

Difficulty of growing: Easy

Growing Marigolds

Sowing Indoors

If you are looking to grow marigolds indoors to get some early flowering outside, you will want to start sowing approximately 50 days before the last frost date. Simply place some potting mix in a seed tray and place 2 seeds in each cube. The seeds are quite delicate so extra care should be taken – great for showing children how careful you need to be.

Marigolds don’t need that long to germinate at all and don’t require daylight at this early stage. You should start to see the seeds come through within 10 days if the conditions are right. Once the seedlings appear, simply move to a spot where they will be able to get get around 6 hours of light each day.

Generally speaking, once the seedlings have produced two leaves, they will be ready to potted on. We’d recommend using 10cm pots as this will allow plenty of space for the plants to grow and allow enough time for the frosts to pass.

Once, the frosts have passed, plant out into a sunny position with well drained soil or a container with good drainage.

Direct Sow

Marigolds can be sowed directly into the ground where they are going to grow when the risk of frost has passed. Plant the seeds once the soil has warmed up approximately 1 inch apart and 1 inch deep in the ground. Ensure that it is a sunny position.

You will want to make sure that you rake the soil beforehand to remove any large stones. From the time of sowing, you should expect your first flowers in about 8 weeks.

Ongoing Care

Marigolds are an extremely resilient flower and suitable for both borders and container planting. In borders, marigolds will only need watering during hot spells. Otherwise, they should be ok for periods of up to a week. Ensure that you water at the base of the plant.

In planting in containers, water regularly as the soil will dry out far quicker than that of a flower bed. Ensure there are not too many plants, as they can become crowded quite easily.

Once the flowers have spent and dried, simply remove them by pinching the shoots back to the nearest set of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow further flowers and continue to provide you with a great display for weeks to come.


Once you have deadheaded the dried flower, simply store in a cool dry place and this will provide you with ample seeds for next years display. This is great for children as they will end up with the same seeds as what they started off with. A perfect way to show the lifecycle of a plant.

Varieties of marigolds 

Marigold - tomato grower secret

Tomato Grower Secret

This variety of marigold is renowned for helping tomato growers deter pests, namely white fly. Why not give them a go if you are growing tomatoes in your garden.

Order through Thompson & Morgan



Durango Bee F1 Hybrid

A beautiful marigold flower which is bright yellow and orange. This lovely variety will look great in many gardens and will provide an intense dash of colour.

Order through Thompson & Morgan


Marigold Crackerjack Mixed

If you are looking for a large marigold, this variety can grow up to 60cm tall and 45cm wide. It has very bold flowers and will look great in any border.

Order through Thompson & Morgan


Further reading

If you are looking to plant other flowers that are safe for a children’s garden, check out our other post safe plants for a children’s garden.