How to deadhead marigolds – in 3 easy steps

Tidy up your summer pots and flower beds with this expert advice

French marigolds
(Image credit: Valeriy Lushchikov / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

Q: This summer, I have planted lots of marigolds in my backyard – both in containers and in a cut flower bed. Is it a good idea to deadhead them as the flowers fade?

A: Marigolds bring a splash of sunshine to a garden with their yellow and orange blooms. Although it's not totally necessary, snipping these flowers off once they've wilted is worth the effort for a number of reasons.

Firstly, deadheading marigolds encourages a continuous display throughout the season, highlights gardening expert Tony O'Neill. This is because it channels the plants' energy into making new blooms. It also stops them from self-sowing, which means that they are less likely to spread uncontrollably around your yard.

As well as this, deadheading marigolds keeps the plants looking their best. Without it, marigolds risk becoming leggy, floppy, and bedraggled-looking, says plant expert Autumn Hilliard-Knapp.

Tony O'Neill
Tony O'Neill

Tony O'Neill is an accomplished gardening expert, author, and educator. With a passion for simplifying gardening practices, he has inspired a wide audience through his popular YouTube channel and website Tony's expertise empowers individuals to cultivate thriving gardens and connect with nature.

Autumn Hilliard-Knapp
Autumn Hilliard-Knapp

Autumn is a horticulture specialist and marketing professional at Perfect Plants Nursery. With four years of experience in the horticulture industry, she has developed a passion for helping people create beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Her expertise in horticulture encompasses a broad range of activities, including plant care and selection, landscape design, and maintenance.

orange marigolds

Marigolds add a pop of color to planting schemes

(Image credit: schnuddel / E+ / Getty Images)

How to deadhead marigolds

The process for deadheading marigolds is super simple and is similar to deadheading coneflowers or zinnias – other summer-flowering favorites. Remember to stay away from the common deadheading mistakes for the best results.

  1. First, ensure your pruning shears or scissors are sharp and clean, says Tony. 'Sterilizing with rubbing alcohol helps prevent the spread of plant diseases.'
  2. Then, locate and snip off each expired bloom – it will have lost its vibrant color and the petals will be wilting. 'Make these cuts directly above a healthy set of leaves or buds,' instructs Anna Ohler, the Owner of Bright Lane Gardens nursery. 'Make sure you cut on an angle so water can't collect on the cut stem, which can sometimes lead to infection.'
  3. The removed blooms can be disposed of in a compost pile, Anna says. If they're dry and crispy, they can also be set aside to collect seeds from.
Gonicc Professional Micro-Tip Pruning Snips | $17.95 from Amazon

Gonicc Professional Micro-Tip Pruning Snips | $17.95 from Amazon
These pruners, made from durable stainless steel, are the perfect tool for effortlessly deadheading your marigolds and other garden plants.

Anna Ohler
Anna Ohler

Anna is an avid plant hobbyist and the Owner and Operator of Bright Lane Gardens, a boutique plant nursery in Northern Michigan. With over a decade of experience in gardening and landscaping, she takes every opportunity to share her knowledge on all things plant related.

deadheading marigolds with snips

Use a clean pair of snips or pruners to deadhead your marigolds

(Image credit: Deborah Vernon / Alamy Stock Photo)

When to deadhead marigolds

'Continue to deadhead marigolds through the entire blooming season,' says Anna. You can deadhead at any time of the day, Autumn adds. 

The trick for tidy-looking plants is to do it often. Autumn points out that some gardeners choose to dedicate part of their weekends to deadheading their marigolds. However, she simply removes the spent blooms anytime she passes by the plants and notices them.

dried marigold flowerheads

Dried flowerheads can be set aside ready for collecting up the seeds

(Image credit: Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo)

Whether you're growing marigolds in pots in full sun, as companion plants in a vegetable garden, or at the front of a border, deadheading them can reward you with a beautiful display from summer all the way into late fall. Just remember to water them when necessary, too, to ensure they stay happy and healthy.

Holly Crossley
Contributing Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for for two years, Holly now regularly writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.