Problem with marigold germination

Saskatoon, SK(Zone 2a)

Has anyone else had challenges with marigold germination? It is one of the only seeds I cannot grow! I always try to start them indoors 6 weeks before planting out. I am trying Tangerine Gem and another shorter orange one (name escapes me now) this year (again...) I buy fresh seed every year from a reputable dealer. I have tried different temperatures from 16 C to 25 C, light and dark, and I also use a name-brand seed starting mix for my medium. I know marigolds self seed readily out in my garden from year to year so why can't I get them to germinate in my house? Perhaps they need stress to germinate? If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

I don't get it. Years ago, I thought of marigolds as easy peasy, I stuck them in the .cells and they grew. Then I had a gardening hiatus, my current garden is in a different zone, and they have become soooooo persnickety! Meanwhile, I've become a much more accomplished gardener in other ways, start perennials from seed every year, etc... But I prefer to buy marigolds locally rather than waste my limited indoor space on annuals that won't germinate reliably.

Anyone still find them easy? Or know what makes them so?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I haven't grown them for year but never had any problem getting them to sprout. If I remember correctly, I made a shallow furrow and sowed them then wit my 2 fingers pushed the soil against them for I do think they need to be surface sown (some calls this needing light) Warm temp in the 70's.

Ofcourse those that I started were the old fashion kind. Maybe the new hybrids are harder to sprout.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

I'm getting pretty good germination indoors, maybe 70%, with soil temp of 24*-26.5*C (76-80*F), but they have been the spindliest things for ten days now. I mean that I can't see their stems and can only find them by their seed leaves. This is true for both the tray I left in the heat box and put under lights and the tray I took off the heat and put under lights. The tomatoes love these lights.

But for germinating maybe it is the higher temp of the sand the tray sits on? I think blomma may be on to something about the hybrids having become more difficult. I mean, look how many sixpacks fly off garden center shelves. Dunno.

I hope fiddling around with the variables finds you something that works. Then you can educate us :~) Good luck!

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Maybe the heat makes the difference. I used to be in zone 6-7, sprouted all my annuals under a dome on a huge table that got direct sun from south and west facing windows. It was a very bright room. I never used heat mats or lights, and had excellent results. Now I'm in z5, almost no direct light, use lots of T-5 fluorescents, and regulate the mat at 70-75. Maybe I should push it up for marigolds. But it's too late for this year, I already filled up all my available space with others.

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

I tried to sow marigolds too and did not have good results only got 3 plants.I tried putting my tray on the baseboard heater and got 2 to sprout and set some on the south windowsill just 1 sprouted.Last week I sowed some in the full sun garden bed hoping to get better results.Eventually I will have to buy some plants.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Ugh, last night while trying to water I tipped my entire flat of marigold seedlings onto its head, on the floor. I tried to rescue them - the ones that had sprouted - but only found half among the dryish germinating mix. They were a month old, but most of them so thin and fine I could neither see nor feel them. Sigh.

I think this trouble can be chalked up to me.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Your seedlings are growing spindley due to lack of or not enough light. They are reaching for light. Plants grown under light need 16 hours of light to grow healthy. The light needs to be 2" above the seedlings to do any good.

I use a timer so I don't have to worry about forgetting turning the light on.
Below is my set up for daylily seedlings. Aluminum foil on the wall helps increase light and bounce it back to the seedlings.

Thumbnail by blomma
Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

That is very similar to my set up blomma. It is what I would have expected also, but everything else under the same lights is thriving. Does that make any sense To you?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

13Turtle, it is possible that the other seedling does not need as much light. Marigolds require a sunny position, so maybe they are not getting enough light under the fluorescent for whatever reason.

What I do for more sunny plants is put them on a pedestal to raise them closer to the light. That way you don't have to lower or raise the florescent tubes.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I didn't sprout any seeds indoors 2014, or Marigolds indoors 2013.
2012 they did okay indoors, some varieties did better than others. I use lights on shelves with a timer in front of a south-facing window well. I stopped using the heat mat - I had more problems with seeds being too warm and dry than too cool (maybe I need a better heat mat).
Instead I start seeds on the top shelf, because it is warmer near the ceiling, with the plant trays just clearing the lights. I put my brightest lights farthest down, with shelves also further apart. So in theory, shelves get brighter and cooler going down, warmer but dimmer going up. I start half a shelf weekly, trays get moved across and down weekly. Bottom shelf moves outdoors to a large cold-frame to be hardened off. I can do 10-12 weeks before last frost date: 7-8 indoors and 2-4 in the cold frame, depending on when I repot and how much larger the final pots are than the 1st pots.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

A couple warm ,wet , Dark days to start . It works with Tagetes , and Zinnia , I don't know about the taller Marigolds or a couple types of Zinnia .
My Zinnia mixed and saved now and my Sparky or Orange will germinate a few to begin with in 2 days . Takes them both 2 weeks under lights , with lower germination by far ,,
I did not have enough seeds of the Crackerjack to play around with , hopefully , that comes next year

Munster, IN(Zone 5b)

I have always just started my my marigolds outside after last frosts - in Zone 5 . I saved my own seeds that past few years and they do well. My culture guide from Park seed catalog says, same or 2-3 weeks before last frost. I have had trouble keeping things going from starting them too soon in the past. I have decided to go slower this spring, partly because the weather seems to be doing the same, and partly because there are so many things I just didn't get to early anyway. LOL - blush....

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I had trouble growing marigold seeds this year also. I have started a lot of plants from seeds so could hardly believe I was having trouble with Marigolds--Really??
I read to put the seed vertically in the soil with part of the seed above the ground. This worked better.

I do know Marigold seeds get old fast and won't germinate.

From now on, I'm just going to buy the marigolds in six packs--or maybe four packs--. They're getting smaller, or they offer something around a 15 pack. More and more offerings with large packs of plants seem to be the new trend.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I cheated a bit , bought a four pack of Coin Gold , a tall marigold with an old fashioned look .
I have four crackerjack plants , I did not do well with them . . Planted a large sandwich baggie full of Sparky , Aztecs and a tall orange will be planted this evening late and likely the last seeds I will plant this year as far as this .. Annual flowers
Probable storms tonight will keep them watered good for me , makes it nice that way ,

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