Some of the most vibrant flowers on the planet, it’s no surprise that marigolds take up significant garden real estate across the US and beyond. Generally speaking, though, only 3 of 50 total species are commonly used, which is a crying shame.
To help you make the most of these wonderful plants, we’ve curated this list of the 14 most beautiful marigold flowers you may never have seen.
Whether you’re after a spray of color for your rock garden, or some showy stand-outs in your yard, we’ve got the marigold deep cuts for you!
Saturated with a vibrant red and yellow mottle, Harmony marigolds are flames in flower form — A true celebration of summer!
Growing out from dwarf stems that only ever reach 8”, these 2” ruffled blooms really tip the scales on the flower-to-greenery ratio, so if you’re after as much color as you can get, you can’t go wrong with Harmony marigolds.
They work particularly well front and center of flower beds like the stars they are, capable of drawing the eye and zhuzhing up a space with otherwise quite muted colors.
2. Colossus Red Gold
Colossus Red Gold marigolds are similar to Harmony marigolds, but the red petals with consistent golden-yellow fringes give them a more structured aesthetic that can add an explosion of color without overpowering any sense of order you’ve been trying to cultivate.
While these flowers are quite big, growing as large as 3” across on reasonably compact stems, the “Colossus” in their name also refers to the scale of their striking visual impact, which is HUGE!
Delicate isn’t a word we often associate with this loud and robust flower, but Brocade marigolds take all the color and vivacity of typical marigolds, and condense it into petal-dense little blooms elegant enough for a bride’s bouquet.
They’re just as ruffly and magnificent as their larger counterparts, but a lot smaller, and thus, more intricate-looking, with golds, oranges, and deep reds threaded throughout the tight bunching of the petals.
Marigolds are loud and proud, which is fantastic if that’s what you’re going for in a space. However, what if you appreciate their form, and to a certain degree, their vivacity, but you’re looking for something a little more subdued?
Well, you plant some Bambino marigolds, that’s what!
If we had to describe the cute Bambino in just two words, we’d say “simple perfection”. There is no intricate ruffling, no glaring contrast of color, no enormous blooms, just sweet butter-yellow flowers with subtle orange fringes and fluffy yellow centers.
This is the kind of marigold you’ll want to pick and tuck behind your ear to give yourself that carefree, summer look, but it’s not just us that take an interest when these flowers open come spring and summer…
As they are open flowers (like big buttercups), our pollinator friends don’t struggle as much to reach their lovely nectar.
Boleros are the wild cards of the marigold world, offering no discernible color pattern. The spread of deep reds and yellows can be wildly different from one flower to the next, even on the same plant.
With 2” blooms on 12” stems, they’re relatively small, yet retain the big signature impact of their larger cousins.
The control-freak green thumbs out there (you know who you are) may not enjoy the idiosyncrasies of this quirky variety, but those who like a diverse flower bed, there’s nothing better than the Bolero.
Court Jester marigolds don’t have any ruffles or randomness, but that’s not to say they can’t entertain and amaze when you hold court in the yard.
Their red and yellow striped petals are as eye-catching as can be, and, as the name suggests, resemble the garb of the jesters of the Middle Ages.
An incredibly distinct variety, they can easily overwhelm a space when multiples are planted together, but they’re a dynamite interplanting flower to create intrigue and split up some less in-your-face blooms.
If you like the idea of the Bambino marigolds discussed earlier, but you’d like to go even simpler with your flower bed aesthetic, might we suggest the Daisy Wheel Lemon marigold?
With lemon-yellow petals and a mustard-y center, Daisy Wheel Lemon marigolds are cute as a button, perfect for the minimalist green thumbs who’d like to introduce some pollinator-friendly marigolds to their floral arrays without overwhelming the landscape.
Growing only 10” in height, we’d recommend Daisy Wheel Lemons for container gardening. They’ll brighten up any patio or balcony significantly. Sadly, however, they’re not as abundant in the States as they are in Europe.
Golden Guardians aren’t just named so because they’re golden-yellow and stand tall like daffodils. They’re also fantastic protectors, helping to keep common garden pests such as root-knot nematodes at bay.
These brave blooms literally guard their neighboring plants, achieving particular success when used as a companion plant to watch over tomato crops, and guess what… they make it look good, too!
Even though they’re lauded for their brawn, it’s impossible to deny the Golden Guardian’s beauty. If you crossed a daisy with a daffodil, the resulting hybrid would no doubt resemble something close to this pretty flower.
If your thoughts after seeing each of these spectacular marigold specimens have been something along the lines of… sure, it’s nice, but it needs more ruffles, then allow us to introduce you to Mary Helen.
Mary Helen marigolds are as ruffly as can be. In fact, they’re so ruffly, that they are almost completely orb-shaped, mirroring the sun in the spring/summer sky.
They’re similar in form to hydrangea blooms but without the varied coloring. Mary Helen marigolds are yellow and only yellow, sprouting from exceedingly tall stems — We’re talking 36”!
These flowers are a really fun addition to almost any flower bed, especially if you’re trying to vary the height of your plants, and their simple coloring means they’re easy to pair with a variety of other flowers.
The blooms of Moonlight marigolds are almost identical in form to those of the Mary Helen variety, but their petals are an off-white, so they more closely resemble the moon than the sun.
They’re also about an inch broader than their sunny counterparts, but at 14”, stand much shorter.
The mild coloring is perfect for avoiding sensory overload in a flowerbed and acts as a sort of optical pallet cleanser that can emphasize the nuances of other muted flowers in the area.
With a name like Naughty Marietta, you’d expect some form of deviance or ugliness from this variety of marigold, but nothing could be further from the truth.
With their open, bi-color petals and accentuated anthers, Naughty Mariettas are really quite striking. So, why the name?
Well, it’s actually a reference to the 1930s film with the same name, and it was so chosen to liken the beauty of the flower to the beauty of the actress playing the role of Marietta, Jeanette MacDonald.
Yellow is the primary color here, but the maroon fangs that cut down the middle of the petals provide a touch more visual intrigue, as do the alternating colors of the central disk.
The intriguing thing about the Orange Flame variety is that it combines the hyper-ruffled aspect of the Mary Helen with the open-petal style of the more understated specimens such as the Golden Guardian and Naughty Marietta.
The former takes precedence towards the tip of the bloom, while the latter luxuriates towards the base of the bloom. The further from the center of the flower, the more relaxed and loose the petals are.
The color also shifts from center to base, changing from yellow to rusty orange. This transition mirrors the nuances in color observed in dancing flames, which is where this variety gets its name.
The double bloom of the Red Cherry marigold has a loose but highly structured ruffle. The primary petal color is a deep red, but each one is gilded with a golden fringe.
At the center of the bloom is a vibrant yellow disk from which the gold of the petal fringes seems to flow.
The delicate ruffling of this flower is what sets it apart from the rest of the Marigold family. They grow on 12” plants, can reach a diameter of up to 2”, and pair well with other colorful summer annuals.
Last but by no means least, we have the wonderful Strawberry Blonde marigold, a plant that sharply deviates from traditional marigold colors.
Rather than deep reds, ruddy oranges, and burning yellows, you get pastel pinks and muted yellows. They look as if they’ve faded over a supernaturally long life, leaving a more understated color palette that’s far easier on the eyes.
Marigolds in all their forms are truly phenomenal flowers, capable of completely transforming a garden with only a few blooms.
A common misconception is that they’re all loud flowers with in-your-face colors and shapes, which is certainly true of some varieties, but as this post illustrates, they’re actually more nuanced and versatile than many give them credit.