The marigold flower is one of the most popular and beloved blossoms across the globe. If you’re curious about marigold meaning, then you’ve come to the right place!
These flowers are highly valued for their medicinal properties and strong associations with spiritual and religious practices. Marigolds possess some of the brightest and most vibrant blooms among all flowering plants.
Their unique shapes and bold colors always manage to capture attention. But what do marigolds mean?
Generally, marigolds are a symbol of cheerfulness, joy, and happiness. They represent positive energy, good luck, optimism, hope, warmth, enthusiasm, and lightheartedness. Marigolds can also convey feelings of grief, mourning, protection, and remembrance.
In this article, I’ll be discussing marigold meaning, history, occurrence, and care. So keep reading to learn more about these brilliant beauties.
What Are Marigolds?
Marigolds belong to a genus of flowering plants known as ‘Tagetes’ in the family Asteraceae. With around 50 species included, this annual herbaceous plant is native to Southern North America, particularly Mexico.
Marigold plants exist in multiple divisions and variants, each housing several cultivars. They can grow as short as 4 to 5 inches or as tall as 48 to 50 inches.
Blooms of this plant offer a wide range of vibrant colors including yellow, orange, red, white, and gold.
The most common species of marigolds are Signet, French, and African marigolds. Here’s a breakdown of each type:
- Tagetes tenuifolia (Signet marigolds) — did you know that some marigolds are edible? These varieties belong to the Signet marigold species.
Unlike the signature pom-pom shape of other marigold flowers, this particular type has small, single blooms that look like daisies. Their foliage is similar to ferns and their colors range between orange, lemon yellow, red, and tangerine.
The ‘Gem’ varieties of Signet marigolds have a mild citrusy flavor with a hint of spiciness.
- Tagetes patula (French marigolds) — on the shorter side of the spectrum, French marigolds typically range in length between 4 and 19 inches. These plants are known for their bushy nature and abundant, long-lasting blossoms.
This type of marigold is characterized by possessing stems with a purple hue. On top, you’ll see two flowers per head in the colors orange, mahogany, and yellow.
- Tagetes erecta (African marigolds) — also referred to as Mexican marigolds, this species of marigold is characterized by featuring oversized blooms that look like pom poms sitting on medium or tall stems. They tend to flower profusely where blooms come in intense shades of bright yellow and deep orange.
These lovely plants can reach a length of up to 4 feet and a width of up to 5 feet. African marigolds make great cut flowers and look fantastic along garden borders.
What Is the Meaning of Marigold Flowers?
Now that you have a better understanding of what marigold flowers are, their origins, and their characteristics, it’s time we dive into the different aspects of marigold meanings.
Marigolds bloom in a wide range of red, yellow, and orange shades. Let’s discuss the meaning behind each color:
- Red marigolds — the thing about red is that it’s one of the most eye-catching, “notice me” colors out there. The intensity of red in flowers often translates into dramatic feelings and deep sentiments.
Red in marigolds is a relatively new phenomenon since it was seen rarely until recent years. Particular varieties have been intentionally bred and cultivated to create bright red flowers and popularize the fiery color.
Like many red blooms out there, red marigolds are a symbol of love, romance, and passionate connections. They also represent desire, the will to win, pleasure, survival, and vitality.
- Yellow or gold marigolds — the vibrant yellow and gold hues of marigolds are the main reason these flowers are heavily associated with the strength and positive energy of the sun.
These blooms represent new beginnings after the hardships of winter clear away. Yellow or gold marigolds are also a symbol of happiness, joy, fun, warmth, optimism, and good luck.
- Orange marigolds — as an intermediate shade between red and yellow, the orange color in flowers is a symbol of cheerfulness, sunshine, and positive emotions.
Orange marigolds often invoke sentiments of passion, warmth, and confidence. They also represent energy, creativity, affection, and enthusiasm.
- Red-orange marigolds — some marigold flowers have red petals with orange edges. These beauties represent the meanings associated with both colors to convey messages of passionate love, intense joy, and deep affection.
- White marigolds — white is the color of purity and innocence, and so is the symbolism of white marigold flowers. They also represent carefreeness, lightheartedness, well wishes, genuineness, and joy.
In Indian Religions
Around 3 to 4 centuries ago, Portuguese explorers introduced India to marigold flowers as part of their expeditions and cultural exchange efforts. From that point on, these bright and humble flowers became deeply intertwined with the religions in India as an integral part of their practices and rituals.
In Hinduism, believers offer marigold flowers to the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu, who are linked to prosperity, wealth, and fortune. This offering stems from the representation of these gods’ chakra as a sun-like symbol and the association of marigolds with the sun.
Thanks to the relationship between marigolds and the divine couple -Lakshmi and Vishnu-, these flowers are also widely used in decorations and garlands for Hindu marriage ceremonies and festivities.
Marigold flowers also have a vital presence in Buddhism. Marigolds and lotus flowers are used as offerings to Buddha.
They’re also featured in garlands that serve to decorate altars, statues, and temples of worship.
Marigold has a strong significance in Christianity that’s heavily associated with the flower’s arrival in Europe. This happened when early Spanish explorers made their way to Mexico and then went back to their homeland with seeds for planting marigold flowers.
Once they caught on in Spain, the public was fascinated by the bright blooms. The popularity of marigolds skyrocketed throughout the country and, consequently, in France, Europe, and North Africa.
Monastery gardens were one of the most common locations for planting marigolds. With time, these beautiful flowers became widely used for adorning the Altar of the Virgin Mary.
The flower’s brilliant shades of yellow and orange along with the lovely shape of its petals encouraged the poor to offer the blooms in support of monasteries instead of gold. As such, the flowers became known as Mary’s gold, which was modified into “marigold” later on.
In Ancient Cultures
Marigold flowers have held a fundamental association with meanings of restoration, healing, and protection in Ancient cultures such as Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt.
The main reason behind this is the medicinal properties of the flower which were highly valued in both civilizations. People back then used marigolds to heal wounds, treat sores, and alleviate pain.
In Mexican Culture
Marigold flowers have been associated with ancient practices in Mexican culture with recorded uses dating as far back as the Aztec folk.
In fact, the first documented application of marigolds in medicine was in a book called “De la Cruz-Badiano Aztec Herbal”. It was composed by Spanish conquistadors in 1552 who wrote about Aztec herbal remedies and medicines they encountered in Mexico.
People back then used marigold flowers to make treatments for those who were struck by lightning and for hiccups.
Besides medicine, the Aztecs also believed that marigolds possess spiritual and magical powers. They used them to help people safely cross water or rivers and as decorations for their shrines and temples.
But perhaps the most famous spiritual or magical tradition involving marigolds in Aztec practices is one that still happens to this time in Mexico and throughout Latin America, known as “Dia de Los Muertos”.
This literally translates into “day of the dead”, which is a yearly event that celebrates the dead and honors their memory. People who participate use marigolds to adorn the shrines, altars, and graves of loved ones as they believe that the bright colors and fragrant scents of the flower help guide souls from their burial places to their family homes.
All of this significance explains why Aztecs too care to breed marigolds to make them naturally larger in size. It also explains the close-knit link between marigold flowers and meanings of protection, grief, remembrance, and mourning.
In Victorian Floriography
Floriography is the language of flowers in which different blooms and plants are associated with various meanings and symbols. This practice was around before the Victorian era, but its popularity skyrocketed in the 1800s as a favorite pastime.
Books and guides that discussed flower language were present in pretty much every household as people loved deciphering messages behind received flowers and sending their own thoughts that they couldn’t speak out loud.
As such, marigolds in Victorian floriography presented meanings of contempt, protection, and comfort. They could also be a symbol of jealousy, grief, mourning, and despair.
A sturdy plant with bright blooms of yellow, orange, and red shades, the marigold is the official flower assigned to the Leo zodiac sign. This link is based on various common traits between the flower and the Leo individuals.
For one, marigolds are typically thought of as a representation of the color and strength of the sun thanks to their colors and shape. From this point, a connection was established between marigolds and Leo individuals due to the association of both the flower and the astrological sign with the sun.
It actually checks out too, as individuals of the Leo sign are known to be strong, big-hearted, independent, confident, and skilled in communication.
When to Give Marigolds
If you’re wondering what type of occasions you can use marigolds as a gift, the following examples should help you figure it out:
- Sending well wishes — thanks to their warm, bright colors, marigolds make for an excellent “feel good” gift due to their symbolism of cheerfulness, affection, positive energy, support, hope, and vitality.
Whether it’s a relative who’s been sick or a friend who’s been having a rough time, some yellow, green, or white marigolds are a great way to lift their spirit and let them know you’re thinking of them
- Birthdays — marigolds are fantastic flowers for birthday bouquets, especially for those born in October since it’s the month’s official flower. They’ll convey a message of affection, appreciation, joy, and cheerfulness, which is exactly what you’d want to feel on your birthday!
- Anniversaries — marigold flowers are also wonderful to add to anniversary bouquets. They’ll symbolize your sentiments of wishing joy, good luck, happiness, and continuity. They can also reflect feelings of love, desire, and romantic affection.
- Weddings — marigolds are a staple in Hindu wedding ceremonies and rituals, as such, they make for amazing wedding arrangements and congratulatory gifts.
In yellow and orange, these blooms are a symbol of good luck, wealth, success, and joy. They also convey sentiments of well-wishing and support through the new couple’s journey.
- Remembrance ceremonies — marigold flowers are heavily associated with protection, grief, remembrance, and mourning. Their use in honoring the memory of the dead has been around for many centuries and is still going strong to this day.
- Romantic gestures — last but not least, marigolds can convey messages of romantic love, attraction, desire, affection, and pleasure. If you’re looking to present someone special with flowers and you want to show them how deeply you feel for them, red marigolds are a terrific choice.
How to Care For Marigold
One of the best things about marigold plants is the low maintenance they need once properly formed. Here are some tips to help your marigolds thrive and stay healthy:
- Make sure your marigold plants get plenty of sunlight. They like full sun and will reward you with profuse flowering of healthy and vibrant blossoms in such conditions. Sunny conditions also prevent issues such as powdery mildew.
- Avoid leaving your marigold plants in shady spots for too long to prevent them from flowering less abundantly and becoming leggy.
- Water your marigold plants regularly during the first few weeks of planting. If you live somewhere hot and dry, make sure you water new marigolds every day.
- Never leave your new marigolds in dry solid for more than 48 hours.
- After a few weeks, your marigold plants will have established an adequate root system and will become more tolerant to drought.
- Keep your marigold plant deadheaded to ensure continuous flowering.
- While marigold plants are generally fine with any type of garden soil you provide, make sure you don’t give them soil with a too low pH. Try to keep things neutral at around pH 6 to 7.
- Don’t add too much organic material to the soil as marigolds strive in lean soil.
- Don’t add fertilizer or supplemental solutions to your marigold’s soil unless it’s extremely nutrient-poor.
- Keep your marigold plants in warm or hot conditions as they enjoy higher temperatures in the summer. If the weather gets too hot, their flowering may slow down a bit but it’ll go back to normal once the temperature drops a little.
- Allow your marigold plants some space for sufficient airflow to avoid powdery mildew in high humidity conditions.
Wrap Up On Marigold Meaning
There you have it, everything you need to know about marigold meaning, history, occurrence, and care.
These flowers symbolize cheerfulness, joy, and happiness. They represent positive energy, good luck, optimism, hope, warmth, enthusiasm, and lightheartedness.
Marigolds can also express grief, mourning, protection, and remembrance.
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