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Products > Tagetes lemmonii
Tagetes lemmonii - Mexican Marigold
Image of Tagetes lemmonii
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Golden
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Tagetes lemmonii (Mexican Marigold) - A bushy evergreen shrub that grows 4-6+ feet tall and spreading 6-10 feet wide with finely divided (pinnately compound with 3 to 5 leaflets) mid green leaves with strong fragrance released when rubbed or brushed against. The orange-yellow flowers in fall through winter have an off bloom in other seasons - flowering is triggered by short day length so overcast weather can extend flowering in spring.

Plant in sun or part shade in a well-drained soil. Drought tolerant in coastal gardens but looks best with a little added irrigation - too much water or too little light produces leggy plants that don't bloom well. Frost tender to a hard frost but rebounds quickly and overall hardy to at least 18 F, which this plant experienced in our nursery in 1990. It can be cut back severely or even hedged but this may reduce or delay flowering - use care when pruning as some have reported this plant to cause a slight dermatitis. Some people enjoy the pungent aroma of this plant, likened to the scent of marigold mixed with lemon and mint, others find the smell quite displeasing, and deer seem to completely leave this plant alone.

Tagetes lemmonii comes from southern Arizona south into northern Mexico where it grows in canyons at elevations between 4,000 and 8,000 feet and is known commonly as Mountain Marigold, Copper Canyon Daisy and Perennial Marigold. This plant was discovered in southeastern Arizona, by the early plant collectors, self-taught field botanists, and husband and wife, John (1832-1908) and Sara (1836 1923) Lemmon. These two incredible people met in Santa Barbara, California, where Sara Allen Plummer lived, in 1876 when she attended a lecture given by John, who at the time was the California State Board of Forestry Botanist. They married in 1880 and botanized throughout the southwest and in the process discovered over 150 new plants including this then unknown species of Tagetes of which they sent seed to Asa Gray at Harvard University, who then named the plant to honor them. Sara and John also climbed the highest mountain in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson, that is now called Mount Lemmon reportedly because Sara Lemmon was the first woman to climb it. Both authored books and articles which Sara often illustrated, and she was instrumental in the efforts to name Eschscholzia californica as the official California State Flower, as it was done officially by Governor George Pardee in 1903. The Lemmons established plants of Tagetes lemmonii in their garden in Oakland, California and progeny of these plants were introduced to the nursery trade in southern California, and England by the early 1900's. We are thankful to John Bleck, UCSB Biology Department Living Collections Curator who introduced us to this plant in 1983 and we have grown it in our nursery ever since. 

This information about Tagetes lemmonii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.