White Marigold

Tagetes erecta  • 

Photo: White Marigold

Photo: White Marigold

General description

he first French marigold with really, really white flowers was created in 1975 by home gardener Alice Vonk, who won $10,000 for her efforts from the Burpee Seed Company. (To generate interest in French marigolds, Burpee had announced the competition in 1954; however, no one until Vonk produced a marigold with pure white—not ecru or ivory—flowers.)

On its online catalog, Burpee gives the hybrid 'French Vanilla' the designation first white hybrid, but makes no mention of Alice Vonk. Other sources cite 'Snowball' and 'Snowbird' as the name of Vonk's winner.

A triumph in plant breeding! A real creamy white flowered Marigold and at last something different in the colour spectrum from oranges and lemons. Flowers are pure in colour, 7.5cm (3in) across and prolific too. There is also a master stroke - 'French Vanilla' has less of the pungent Marigold smell. A definite improvement! Use them in formal or informal bedding, where they will contrast superbly with other bright or pastel flowers. A refreshing plant for the patio container too. Height: 30-38cm (12-15in).

Plant requirements


Marigolds need lots of sunshine.

Though they grow in almost any soil, marigolds thrive in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.

Sow them directly into the garden once the soil is warm, or start seeds indoors about a month to 6 weeks before the last spring-frost date.

The seeds germinate easily, but watch out for damping off if you start them inside.
Separate seedlings when they are about 2 inches tall. Plant them in flats of loose soil, or transplant them into the garden.

Space tall marigolds 2 to 3 feet apart; lower-growing ones about a foot apart.
If planting in containers, use a soil-based potting mix.


Germination from large, easily handled seeds is rapid, and blooms should appear within a few weeks of sowing.

If the spent blossoms are deadheaded, the plants will continue to bloom profusely.
When you water marigolds, allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering, then water well, then repeat the process.

Do not water marigolds from overhead. Water at the base of the plant. 

Do not fertilize marigolds. Too rich a diet stimulates lush foliage at the expense of flowers. Marigolds bloom better and more profusely in poor soil.

The densely double flowerheads of the African marigolds tend to rot in wet weather.

Practical use

Just gorgeous.


1 - 50 cm
Soil type
Full sun
Well-drained, Moist but well-drained