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Marigold And Calendula Differences

French Marigold, African Marigold, Signet Marigold, Pot Marigold, Tagetes erecta, Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia, Calendula officinalis

French Marigold, African Marigold, Signet Marigold, Pot Marigold, Tagetes erecta, Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia, Calendula officinalis

People are often confused between Marigold and Calendula. Several reasons: they are both members of the daisy family, Asteraceae. They are both sun-loving plants with cheerful flowers in shades of yellow, orange, or white from summer to fall. Some of this confusion is also somewhat reinforced by the fact that Calendula is commonly known as Pot Marigold, English Marigold, or Scotch Marigold. However, it is not a true Marigold.

But while Marigolds share many similarities to Calendula, they are two very different plants and should not be substituted for each other. 

Main Marigold and Calendula differences

Calendula vs Marigold: Classification

  • Marigolds belong to the genus Tagetes which includes about 50 species and is native to South America, southwestern North America, and tropical America. 3 highly popular species are cultivated worldwide: Tagetes erecta (African Marigold, American Marigold, or Mexican Marigold), Tagetes patula (French Marigold), and Tagetes tenuifolia (Signet Marigold).
  • Calendula plants, most notably Calendula officinalis, belong to the genus Calendula which includes about 15 to 20 species and is native to Africa and Europe.

Calendula vs Marigold: Season

  • Marigolds are warm-season annuals. They bloom in late spring and continue until frost, assuming their blooms are regularly harvested.
  • Calendula plants are cool-season hardy annuals. They relish cooler temperatures and often sulk when summer sets in, especially in hot-weather areas. Blooming might decrease in the summer heat but will resume once temperatures cool down.

Guide Information

Genus Tagetes, Calendula
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders, Edging
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
Tagetes erecta (African Marigold)
Tagetes patula (French Marigold)
Tagetes tenuifolia (Signet Marigold)

Calendula vs Marigold: Size

  • Marigolds vary from low-growing, dwarf varieties that do not grow more than 6 in. tall (15 cm) to upright varieties that easily reach 4 ft. (120 cm). 
  • Calendula plants usually grow up to 12-24 in. tall (30-60 cm) and rarely beyond 24 in.

Calendula vs Marigold: Flowers

  • Marigold flowers can be single, double, crested, or pompon-like. They are available in shades of orange, yellow, red, gold, white, and any combination of those colors.
  • Calendula flowers have a daisy-like shape with brown to yellow central disks. They are typically bright orange or yellow but some white and bi-colored cultivars have been developed.

Calendula vs. Marigold: Leaves

  • Marigolds have divided, fern-like leaves that are serrated, smooth, and soft to the touch.
  • Calendula plants have sticky, hairy, lance-shaped leaves.
Calendula officinalis ‘Crown Orange’ (Pot Marigold)
Calendula officinalis ‘Kinglet Mix’ (Pot Marigold)
Calendula officinalis ‘Orange Flash’ (Pot Marigold)

Calendula vs Marigold: Seeds

  • Marigold seeds are straight black seeds with white tips that look like little porcupine quills.
  • Calendula seeds are brown, curved in a C shape and look like curly worms.

Calendula vs Marigold: Scent

  • Marigolds have a strong, pungent scent that repels pests such as deer, rabbits, or mosquitoes since they find the odor offensive.
  • Calendula flowers and leaves have a more pleasant aroma compared to Marigolds.
  • If you ever find yourself confused between Marigold and Calendula, give the flower head a sniff.

Calendula vs Marigold: Toxicity

  • Most Marigolds are inedible and toxic. There are, however, a few exceptions. The flowers of Tagetes tenuifolia (Signet Marigold) have a pleasant lemon scent and are edible. Tagetes lucida (Mexican Tarragon is often used as a substitute for tarragon. Tagetes minuta (Wild Marigold) is used as a culinary herb in Peru, Ecuador, and parts of Chile and Bolivia.
  • Calendula leaves and petals are edible. The leaves are often added to salads, and the fresh petals can be used as a garnish or seasoning. 
Calendula officinalis ‘Bull’s Eye’ (Pot Marigold)
Calendula officinalis ‘Ivory Princess’ (Pot Marigold)
Tagetes erecta ‘Kees’ Orange’ (African Marigold)

Calendula vs. Marigold: Companion Planting

  • Marigolds produce a substance that suppresses nematodes (microscopic worms that attack the roots of plants), making them suitable for growing in vegetable gardens.
  • Calendula is often grown as a trap crop, trapping pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and thrips by exuding a sticky sap (resin) that they find more appealing and delicious than nearby vegetable crops.

Calendula vs Marigold: Medicinal Uses

  • Calendula flowers can be used as a medicinal herb as they possess wound-healing and local anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Marigolds have been traditionally used for stomach problems, coughs, colds, and sore eyes. But there is no scientific evidence to support these uses.
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Genus Tagetes, Calendula
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders, Edging
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Tagetes (Marigold)

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