Tagetes lemmonii (Mexican Marigold, Mountain Marigold)

Tagetes lemmonii (Mexican Marigold, Mountain Marigold)

A bushy evergreen shrub with highly aromatic foliage that grows 4-6 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. It is native to southern Arizona and northern Mexico and can be found growing in the mountain canyons at 4,000 – 8,000 foot elevations. As the “ii” at the end of the species name indicates, this plant was named after someone with the surname Lemmon. It was discovered by a husband and wife team of botanists by the name of John Gill (J.G.) Lemmon and Sara Plummer Lemmon. They traveled extensively in the west and discovered this plant in southeastern Arizona in the early 1880’s.

Tagetes lemmonii (pronounced tah-JEE-deez lem-mon-ee-eye) is a plant that really starts putting on a show when a lot of other perennials have finished their bloom cycle and are starting their winter dormancy. The shorter days of fall and winter trigger this plant to come into bloom, creating a dramatic display for any landscape. The size of this plant makes it a good choice as a back drop in a perennial bed, or along a pathway where it can be brushed up against, releasing its lemon-tarragon scent. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators, however the strongly scented foliage keeps the rabbits and deer away.

This is a generally tough plant that, once it takes hold, requires little water or fertilizer. It does best if planted in full to part sun in well-drained soil. It is somewhat frost tender but can handle temperatures to about 18°F. If it does freeze it will typically recover when the weather warms. In the spring it is best to prune out any frost damage (after all danger of frost is over), and prune to shape the entire plant to encourage new growth. It will grow vegetatively during the summer, but be patient and you will be rewarded in the fall with its brilliant display of golden-yellow flowers.

We are currently growing Tagetes lemmonii in one gallon containers. Give us a call, “Like” us on Facebook or check out our website www.clearwatercolor.com to see photos of these plants and many other we are growing.

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