Tagetes lemmonii

Tagetes lemmonii: A Comprehensive Guide to Mexican Marigold

Tagetes lemmonii, commonly known as Mexican Marigold, Lemmon’s Marigold, Copper Canyon Daisy, and Mountain Marigold, is a striking evergreen shrub renowned for its aromatic foliage and vibrant golden flowers. This species belongs to the Asteraceae family, which also includes sunflowers and daisies. Native to southern Arizona and northern Mexico, Tagetes lemmonii thrives in a variety of climates and soil conditions, making it a versatile addition to gardens.

Background and Taxonomy 

Tagetes lemmonii was discovered in southeastern Arizona by the botanists and husband-wife duo John and Sara Lemmon in the late 19th century. The species was named in honor of John Lemmon by Asa Gray of Harvard University. This plant is well-suited to the canyons of southern Arizona and northern Mexico, where it grows at elevations between 4,000 and 8,000 feet.

Family and Genus 

Tagetes lemmonii belongs to the Asteraceae family, a large and diverse family of flowering plants. The genus Tagetes includes several species commonly known as marigolds, which are celebrated for their pest-repellent properties and bright, cheerful flowers.


Mexican Marigold is a sprawling, bushy evergreen shrub that can reach heights of 4 to 6 feet and spread up to 10 feet wide. The plant features finely divided, pinnately compound leaves with a strong, distinctive fragrance released when the foliage is brushed or rubbed. The leaves are mid-green and deeply lobed, adding to the plant’s ornamental appeal.

The flowers of Tagetes lemmonii are bright golden-yellow, daisy-like blooms that appear in abundance from fall through winter, with sporadic blooming in other seasons. Each flower measures approximately 2 inches across and consists of darker yellow disc florets surrounded by ray florets. The blooming period is often extended by short day lengths and overcast weather, making the plant a vibrant presence in the garden for an extended period.

Cultivation and Care of Tagetes lemmonii:

Tagetes lemmonii is relatively easy to grow and maintain, thriving in well-drained soils with full sun to part shade. While it is drought-tolerant, the plant performs best with regular irrigation, particularly in coastal gardens. However, excessive watering or insufficient light can result in leggy growth and reduced flowering.

  • Soil: Prefers well-drained soils, and tolerates poor, calcareous soils.
  • Watering: Drought-tolerant once established, but benefits from occasional watering. Avoid overwatering.
  • Sunlight: Full sun to part shade; excessive shade may cause legginess and reduced blooms.
  • Pruning: Trim to shape as needed, but avoid severe pruning as it may delay flowering. Prune immediately after flowering to maintain shape and encourage new growth.
  • Frost Tolerance: Hardy to at least 18°F; foliage may die back in hard frost but the plant generally rebounds.


Mexican Marigold can be propagated easily through cuttings, division, or seeds:

  • Cuttings: Take softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in spring or summer. Root them in well-draining soil and maintain moisture until established.
  • Division: Divide clumps in spring. Ensure each division has a healthy root system and replant promptly.
  • Seeds: Sow seeds in a well-draining seed mix. Maintain moisture and provide adequate light for germination.

Pests and Diseases 

Tagetes lemmonii is generally pest-resistant, thanks to its pungent aroma, which deters deer and other herbivores. However, it may occasionally suffer from common garden pests and diseases:

  • Aphids: Can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Powdery Mildew: Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal infections.

Uses in the Garden 

Mexican Marigold is highly versatile and can be used in various garden settings:

  • Foundation Plant: Its bushy growth and vibrant flowers make it ideal for foundation plantings.
  • Hedges: Can be trimmed to form low hedges.
  • Pollinator Gardens: Attracts bees and butterflies.
  • Mediterranean Gardens: Suited for drought-tolerant landscapes.
  • Containers: Can be grown in large containers for patios and terraces.

Conclusion Tagetes lemmonii is a remarkable plant that brings vibrant color and a pleasant fragrance to gardens. Its adaptability, ease of care, and ornamental value make it a popular choice for gardeners seeking a resilient and attractive shrub. Whether used as a foundation plant, in hedges, or in pollinator gardens, Mexican Marigold is sure to enhance any landscape with its golden blooms and aromatic foliage.

Tagetes lemmonii
Tagetes lemmonii

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