Marigolds and rudbeckia not germinating!

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

I planted seeds of Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' and a couple of varieties of marigolds on 3/13, and nothing has germinated yet. They are under flourescent lights and on heat mats. All my other seeds have germinated and are growing. Do these take longer, or need cooler temps or am I just too impatient?

Windsor, CT(Zone 6a)

Marigolds germinate best when they're uncovered with soil. With vertical orientation, if it can be swung. Using tweezers to plant individual marigolds is a bit fussy for me, so I just scatter seed onto window boxes and let 'er rip. They can take being pulled apart & replanted pretty well later. Both soil & air temps have to be pretty warm for germination. If they get too cold & soggy, they rot.

The Rudbeckia, was it stratified (kept cold for awhile) before sowing? Even though that's an annual type, that may be having an effect~ I'm not sure off hand if that seed needs light to germinate, but in general small seed like that is better off uncovered when sown.

Freshness of the seed may be a consideration too, if all other variables have been met.

Handy site:

Florissant, MO

Rudbeckia will often take between two and three weeks to germinate. As long as you didn't sow the seed too deep, you should see sprouts in a few days. I doubt that you need cooler temperatures, Rudbeckia will germinate in very warm soil (even as high as 85 deg. F). I also agree with nedweenie, I think cold stratification is very helpful. If you didn't stratify the seeds, they should still germinate but the percentage of germination may be low.

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

I did stratify the seeds for about 6 weeks in the frig. before I sowed them in the cell packs. I did cover the marigolds, so perhaps I'll re-do those. Last year I had the same problem with the Rudeckia, and I assumed they were bad seeds (not a trade from DG). This year I got seeds from a different seed swap (also not DG) and was hoping for better results. Thanks for all your input. Perhaps they'll start popping up one of these days.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

I plant my marigolds by poking a pencil in about a half inch then just dropping the seed in standing up. Spray a little water and the seed sets into the soil. They never all sprout at the same time, but eventually they will sprout.

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks Cathy. I decided to re-sow the marigolds and I did poke a hole with a toothpick and put them in vertically. What a pain! Hope they germinate. If not, I'll get plants from the nursery again!

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

I hope that works for you, wow, a toothpick. You had to be exact. I'm not sure I see well enough for that, lol.

Northport, AL

I'm a first timer to seeds, and just dumped marigold seeds onto the potting medium, covered with about 1/6" of medium, and gently watered. I have a heater in my seedling room, as I keep my house 68 degrees. My marigolds germinated within 5 days. I was shocked.

So, at least I know I can get marigolds, cherry tomatoes, and Early Girls to germinate! they all have in 5 days ! (the room has been kept at 76 degrees, I didn't cover the trays, and I watered lightly twice)

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

Thanks for sharing your technique. While I've had success with celosia, fennel, tomatoes, zinnias, millet, asclepias, torenia and others, the simple marigolds are being stubborn! If this second batch does not germinate, I just might wait til the weather warms and toss the seeds in the garden and let nature take its course!

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the information! I was having the same problem with my marigolds. I also covered them, I'm going to redo them. =)

Central, TX(Zone 8b)

I've found Marigold easy to germinate using Mimosette's method, just drizzle a few seeds per cell onto sterile seed starting media, cover very lightly and water in. I cover my flats with clear plastic domes and use bottom heat until they're up and going!

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

Finally! One Rudbeckia seed has germinated and one Marigold! Hopefully the rest will start popping soon. Thanks again for all the suggestions.

(Zone 10a)

Did the rest germinate?

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

Unfortunately they did not. And the one Rudbeckia seedling succumbed to dampening off! It's 2 years in a row that I have not been able to germinate Rudbeckia. Guess I'll just have to buy plants at the nursery! If our weather ever stabilized, I may just toss the rest of the seeds in the garden and see what happens.

(Zone 10a)


I also did not have success with Rudbeckia when I just tossed them into the garden, mostly because I think animals stirred up the dirt there.
I did have 100% sucess germinating Rudbeckia with the baggie method. Put the seeds in a moist paper towel or plain coffee filter in a plastic baggie and all the seeds shoot out the root in about 5 days.
Then I took the little seeds with their little root and basically just laid them on top of a light seed-starting mix. Then I sprinkled the mix VERY lightly over them. Because of how lightly I sprinkled the mix, some then got covered, and some didn't. I just didn't want them too deep. They are now getting their true leaves.
They are the ones with the green center.


Ossian, IN(Zone 5a)

I did not stratify my rudbeckia at all and I now have strong little plants. I haven't tried starting Marigolds inside, so I'm hoping that I can just plant them outside and they'll do fine. Good luck, and even if you have to buy at the nursery, there's always a second chance next year! Happy Gardening!

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

I have some Rudbeckia seeds left, so I might try them in the baggie method. I have done that before. It's always fun to "pluck" out the tinest seedling - I think of them as "premies" since they are so small and delicate - and watch them grow! It's getting so late in the spring, I wonder if I'll get any flowers. Some of my other annuals that I started from seed, celosia and monkey flowers, are blooming already, even though weather has been crazy. If I don't get to it this year, I'll make a note to do the baggie method next year. Thanks for your input.

Troy, NY(Zone 5b)

I had real trouble with the Rudbeckia seeds I got from WalMart (burpee) the ones from Kitchen Garden Seeds did just fine. This is a pic of most of the things I grew from seed this year (except the one still under lights or planted) so I don't think it was me. You may have just gotten bad seeds.

Thumbnail by bookreader451
(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I also use a heat mat and plastic dome on my marigolds and get excellent results from most varieties. I just poke the seeds into the soil on one end and water in, then cover. I'm a weekend gardener, so everything is on capillary matting over trays full of water. I also use peroxide in the water and sprinkle cinnamon on top to prevent damping off and gnats. This year has been highly successful overall. The occasional failures may have been bad seed.


(Zone 10a)

Elijablue, I actually believe that if you start them via the baggie method, you will get flowers this year. Give it it a try and let us know.

Wheaton, IL(Zone 5b)

I took your advice, and put the rest of the Rudbeckia seeds on a moist coffee filter and then in a baggie on May 23rd. Yesterday, I dumped it out - zero germination! I really don't think I got any seeds - just the chaff. Guess I'll have to buy seeds from a reputable seed company next year.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Wow, starting marigolds can be difficult? They are one of the few seeds that never fail me (indoors in trays, usually too cold, always overwatered, always buried so the top is at least 1/8" underground ... but vertical.

Usually African Crackerjacks, but this year some French Mix and some "orange/yellow" from a trade.


Saratoga Springs, NY

Do I HAVE to stratify rudbeckia?

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I never have stratified rudbeckia when starting indoors. Just cover 1/4" and bottom heat speeds things up a bit. I did do an experiment a few years back to see if it worth starting rudbeckias indoors (limited space) or to wintersow them in the milkjugs. Turns out that the indoor starters bloomed one whole week earlier than the wintersown ones.

There are many different varieties and most wintersow well. Cherry Brandy, however, I would start indoors. Seems to be less hardy has a higher germination rate with the bottom heat. use deep seed starting cells/pots. They don't like their rooks messed with.

Thumbnail by joannabanana
Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)


Thumbnail by joannabanana
Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)


Thumbnail by joannabanana
Calgary, Canada

Yes, I tried Cherry Brandy as a winter sow and it never did flower.
Better to baby it in the house under lights.

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