The Q&A Archives: Marigold Seed Starting

Question: I want to start my marigolds from seeds this year. I have no idea how to do this. Do I start them indoors? When? What kind of soil do I use? Do I put them in sunlight? Please provide me with information on how to do this.

Answer: Marigolds are quick growing plants, so it isn't necessary to start them indoors, but you certainly can. The seeds are easy to germinate, but the seedlings are somewhat susceptible to damping-off, a fungal disease. By taking precautions you can successfully germinate seeds of marigolds and grow disease-free seedlings. Begin with trays or pots that are new or have been sterilized. Fill with moistened seed starting mix, sow the seeds on the surface of the mix, barely press them in and then cover with a very thin layer of additional mix. Place the trays or pots in a warm area, such as on top of the refrigerator. Seeds will germinate in 4-14 days. Once most of the seeds have sprouted, move the trays or pots to a source of artificial light. An inexpensive way to provide light is with a hooded fluorescent shop light that you can suspend over the plants, keeping the bulbs 4"-6" above the tops of the foliage. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, provide light 14-16 hours each day, and make sure there's good air circulation around the seedlings so they won't develop fungal diseases. When the seedlings have two sets of leaves you can thin them by cutting the stems of the overcrowded plants. Keep only the sturdy, dark green, vigorous seedlings. You'll have to thin again, and transplant to individual pots as the seedlings grow. In about six weeks you can transplant them out into the garden.

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