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African Marigold vs. French Marigold: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on May 27, 2024
African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are large, robust plants with big, double-flower heads, while French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are smaller, bushier plants with smaller, single or double-flower heads, often with a maroon pattern.

Key Differences

African marigolds are known for their larger size and taller growth habit, often reaching up to 3 feet in height. French marigolds, on the other hand, are smaller and more compact, usually growing up to 12-18 inches.
The flowers of African marigolds are large and often have a pom-pom appearance, predominantly in shades of yellow and orange. French marigolds have smaller flowers, often displaying a mix of red, orange, and yellow, sometimes with a distinctive maroon pattern.
African marigolds are often used for borders and as standalone plants due to their size. French marigolds are frequently used for edging, in container gardens, or as companion plants due to their smaller size and pest-repellent properties.
African marigolds prefer sunny, well-drained conditions and can tolerate more heat. French marigolds are also sun-loving but are slightly more tolerant of cooler conditions and varied soils.
African marigolds have a longer blooming season, often extending from early summer to frost. French marigolds also offer a long blooming season but may bloom slightly earlier in the season.

Comparison Chart

Size and Growth

Larger plants, up to 3 feet
Smaller, bushier plants, up to 12-18 inches

Flower Appearance

Large, pom-pom like flowers
Smaller flowers, often with maroon patterns

Gardening Uses

Ideal for borders and standalone displays
Great for edging, containers, companion plants

Climate Preference

Tolerates heat, prefers sunny conditions
Slightly cooler tolerant, adaptable to soils

Bloom Duration

Long blooming season
Long blooming, may start earlier

African Marigold and French Marigold Definitions

African Marigold

A tall, robust plant with large, double-flower heads.
The African marigolds dominated the garden with their bright yellow blooms.

French Marigold

Often features a mix of red, orange, and yellow flowers with maroon patterns.
The French marigolds displayed a beautiful blend of red and orange with maroon accents.

African Marigold

Ideal for creating visual impact in borders and large flower beds.
I used African marigolds to create a stunning border along the walkway.

French Marigold

A smaller, bushier plant with single or double-flower heads.
The French marigolds added a delicate charm to the container garden.

African Marigold

Has a longer blooming season, often from early summer to frost.
My African marigolds kept the garden colorful from June until the first frost.

French Marigold

Offers a long blooming season, sometimes starting earlier than African marigolds.
My French marigolds started blooming in late spring and continued throughout the summer.

African Marigold

Prefers sunny, well-drained conditions and tolerates heat.
African marigolds thrived in the sunny part of my garden, even during the hot summer.

French Marigold

Great for edging, container gardens, and as companion plants.
I planted French marigolds along the edge of my vegetable garden as companion plants.

African Marigold

Known for its large, pom-pom-like flowers in yellow and orange.
The garden was brightened by the large, orange flowers of the African marigolds.

French Marigold

More tolerant of cooler conditions and varied soils.
The French marigolds grew well even in the slightly shaded, cooler part of my garden.


Are French marigolds good for companion planting?

Yes, French marigolds are excellent for companion planting due to their pest-repellent properties.

What distinguishes African marigolds from French marigolds in size?

African marigolds are larger and taller, while French marigolds are smaller and bushier.

How tall do African marigolds grow?

African marigolds can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Can French marigolds grow in cooler conditions?

French marigolds are slightly more tolerant of cooler conditions than African marigolds.

What is the ideal use of African marigolds in a garden?

African marigolds are best used for borders and large flower beds.

What colors are French marigold flowers?

French marigold flowers are often red, orange, and yellow with maroon patterns.

Can African marigolds tolerate heat?

Yes, African marigolds are heat tolerant and prefer sunny conditions.

Are French marigolds suitable for container gardens?

Yes, French marigolds are ideal for container gardening due to their size.

Are African marigold flowers edible?

While marigolds are generally not toxic, they are not commonly eaten.

Do African marigolds have a long blooming season?

Yes, African marigolds bloom from early summer to frost.

Can French marigolds help repel garden pests?

Yes, French marigolds are known to repel certain garden pests.

Do French marigolds attract pollinators?

Yes, French marigolds can attract bees and butterflies.

Can African marigolds be propagated from seeds?

Yes, African marigolds can be easily grown from seeds.

Are African marigolds deer resistant?

Marigolds, in general, are somewhat deer resistant due to their strong scent.

Do African marigolds require a lot of maintenance?

African marigolds are relatively low-maintenance but need regular watering and full sun.

How often should I water French marigolds?

French marigolds should be watered regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Can I grow French marigolds indoors?

French marigolds can be grown indoors if they receive enough sunlight.

What type of soil is best for African marigolds?

African marigolds thrive in well-drained, fertile soil.

How do I deadhead French marigolds?

Deadhead French marigolds by removing spent blooms to encourage more flowering.

Do French marigolds have a shorter blooming season?

No, French marigolds have a long blooming season, often starting earlier than African marigolds.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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