Why Are Your Marigolds Drooping? 9 Causes and Fixes

Marigolds will always remain one of my favorite plants to grow indoors because of their gold and copper-colored flowers’ ability to bloom cheerfully throughout summer. Unfortunately, their beauty is not enough to protect them from drooping. So, what causes these plants to droop, and are there any fixes?

Your marigolds are drooping because of one of the following reasons:

  1. Inadequately sized pots
  2. Wilting
  3. Diseases
  4. Pests
  5. Poor air circulation
  6. Poor soil drainage
  7. High humidity levels
  8. Poor watering
  9. Low sunlight exposure

Similar to all living things, plants respond to environmental changes. If your marigold’s leaves and flowers start to droop, there’s a problem. So, keep reading to learn more!

1. Inadequately-Sized Pots

Using a small pot for your marigold may not seem like a problem. But as your plant grows, its roots will need to expand.

There are three major marigold species: the African marigold (Tagetes erecta), the French marigold (Tagetes patula), and the Signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia). Although these marigold plants possess fibrous roots—which are shorter than tap roots—they still need enough room to grow.

When you leave these plants in poorly sized pots, they tend to get rootbound. Their roots coalesce into a densely packed shape that will not allow the plant to grow further. Some of the symptoms include stunted growth or drooping leaves and flowers.

How to Fix 

If you want to fix this, the first thing you’d need to do is to repot your plant. Remove your plant from its current pot, and loosen the densely-packed roots.

Purchase a bigger pot that can accommodate your plant’s roots. Here are the different types of marigolds and their recommended pot sizes:

  • Signet: 1-gallon (3.8 l) or 6-inch (15 cm) pots
  • French: 2-gallon (7.6 l) or 8-inch (20 cm) pots
  • African: 3-gallon (11.3 l) or 10-inch (25 cm) pots

Furthermore, I highly recommend you change your potting mix. You can reuse one-third of the original potting mix surrounding your annual plant for the best results. 

2. Wilting

Wilting is a condition that can affect any plant. Simply put, it is the process where a plant becomes limp because of several factors like improper access to heat, sunlight, and water. 

Wilting and drooping are very similar concepts. More often than not, one of the earliest symptoms of wilting is droopy leaves.

Your marigold needs the right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, and humidity to grow. Without these, wilting may occur. When a plant wilts, it loses its sturdy structure and cannot stand upright, causing the plant to droop.

How to Fix

Keeping your marigold plant from wilting and ultimately drooping requires paying attention to its needs. Here are the basic needs of a marigold plant:

  • Water: Marigolds are slightly drought-tolerant and will thrive when the upper 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) of the soil is allowed to dry between watering sessions. Ensure you use room-temperature water when watering your plants. Water temperatures between 62 and 72 °F (17 and 22 °C) are ideal.
  • Sun: Give your marigolds full sun or at least six hours of direct sunlight daily for the best blooms.
  • Nutrients: Marigolds need high-phosphorus fertilizers. You can plant them in organic-rich soil and apply a 5-10-5 granular fertilizer during the growing season.

Keep these things in mind and your plant should stop dropping or wilting in no time.

3. Diseases

Many marigold species are susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew, rust, botrytis blight, and even root rot. What’s worse is that these diseases are challenging to detect in their early development stages. Although marigolds can withstand quite a lot, it’s not invulnerable to infections.

Many of these diseases will make your plant’s leaves droop and fall off in extreme cases. In addition to drooping, each of these diseases affects your plant differently. 

For example, botrytis blight not only makes your plant droop but also makes its leaves turn papery brown. The flowers may also have water-soaked lesions that become necrotic.

Root rot—caused by several pathogens—causes the general degradation of your plant’s foliage. In severe cases, your plant’s roots will turn black and may give off a rotting or decaying smell.

Over time, these diseases can kill your plant if left untreated.

How to Fix

I recommend spraying with organic fungicides or neem oil solution. This measure will protect your plant from contracting common diseases like powdery mildew. 

Follow these steps to treat your plant:

  1. Inspect your plant regularly for signs of botrytis blight and root rot.
  2. If you see any infected spots, prune them from the main body of the plant.
  3. Remove any fallen plant debris from the soil.
  4. Make a neem oil spray by mixing 1 tablespoon of neem oil with 1 liter (0.26 gal) of water and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap.
  5. Spray the solution liberally on your plant once a week (at night) for the next 3-4 weeks.

4. Pests

Pests are annoying creatures that can negatively affect your marigold. Like many other plants, they are affected by garden pests, such as aphids, earwigs, caterpillars, and spider mites. They can suck the sap out of plant stems and leaves, causing them to droop, so it’s essential to keep your plants as pest-free as possible.

How to Fix

Getting mild infestations is usually an easy fix, as organic pest repellents will do the trick. The neem oil spray discussed above also conveniently doubles as a pest repellent that works against aphids and mites.

For more severe cases, you may have to cut off several parts of your marigold plant to prevent infestations from spreading. If you see any visible pests, handpick and dispose of them.

5. Poor Air Circulation

Many beginners and veteran gardeners underestimate the importance of air circulation to their plant’s health. The marigold is one of those plants that require constant air circulation to remain in top shape.

High humidity and poor air circulation can increase the risk of your marigolds attracting pests and contracting fungal diseases. Both issues can damage the stem, which won’t be able to hold leaves up correctly.

How to Fix

Indoor plants naturally get less airflow than outdoor plants. Luckily, there’s a quick fix for this.

The best thing for plants like this is to place them near a window where they can benefit from the air that comes in. Alternatively, you can introduce a gently blowing fan in the room.

6. Poor Soil Drainage

Many plant owners underestimate the dangers of improper soil drainage. Most plants dislike wet soil, but marigolds are particularly averse to it. Although African, Signet, and French marigolds generally love water, constantly sitting in it could pose several problems, like root rot and other fungal diseases.

Ultimately, the absence of an inefficient soil drainage system may cause your plant to droop and die in severe cases. If you don’t want that to happen, I suggest you use a well-draining pot.

How to Fix

Plant pots like the HC Companies Plastic Caribbean Planter (available on Amazon.com) are your best bet. This particular pot is highly durable while remaining lightweight. It also has a contoured base that directs excess water to a removable drain plug. 

Alternatively, you can use breathable clay pots with drainage holes to aid with aeration and prevent the soil from staying soggy.

A draining tray is also a good buy, especially if you bottom water your plants. Using a drainage tray will prevent water from remaining at your plant’s base. Remember to properly dispose of excess water as it pools on the tray.

Finally, do not water your plants overhead. Instead, directly water the soil. Using rich, organic, well-draining soil will also significantly help water drainage.

7. High Humidity Levels

Humidity levels are always a topic of concern regarding the marigold. As I mentioned earlier, marigolds don’t thrive in constantly damp atmospheres.

They also don’t respond well to extremely harsh weather. When exposed to these extreme conditions, they tend to droop and wilt.

How to Fix

Solving this requires you to track the air’s humidity at all times properly. These plants love dry, flowing air, so try to attain the appropriate humidity levels that facilitate suitable dry air. From past inferences, this should be between 40 to 50%.

You can track the humidity of your air by using a hygrometer, available at your garden store or online.

8. Poor Watering 

Overwatering is a common mistake. When your marigold starts to show signs of dullness, your first instinct might be to give it a drink. Although plants like water, too much can be harmful.

Alternatively, you could also decide to supply your marigold with little to no water to “correct” wet soil. While this isn’t inherently bad, taking this to the extreme will also cause your plant to droop as soil moisture drops to dangerous levels.

How to Fix

Rather than overwatering or underwatering your plant, it’s best to water occasionally but thoroughly during each watering session. Wait for the soil to almost completely dry out between each watering session. 

If the soil has poor drainage resulting in constant overwatering, it’s best to transplant your marigolds to sandy loam soil or repot your plant in a breathable pot with drainage holes and well-draining soil mix. Choose or prepare a mix containing equal parts potting soil, compost, and perlite.

9. Low Sunlight Exposure

Few plants love sunlight as much as the marigold. These plants require at least 6 hours of constant sunlight daily to remain healthy. An inadequate amount of sunlight will make your marigold’s leaves and flowers droop.

Provide this plant with ample sunlight and watch it bloom all year long.

How to Fix

Plant them in sunnier parts of your garden rather than in shady areas. An east-facing garden without obstructions like tall trees or walls is ideal for outdoor marigolds. In a southern or western garden, you can grow them in an area where they’ll receive partial shade from the intense afternoon sun.

If you’re growing this plant indoors, make sure you put them next to windows that supply a healthy amount of sunlight.

Final Words

Marigolds are amongst the most beautiful annual plants in the world. Initially discovered in Mexico and Guatemala, this annual plant can withstand quite a lot. However, when it doesn’t meet its daily requirements, it will likely start to droop to protect itself. Over time, flower drooping can cause plant death.

Thankfully, most problems are fixable if you don’t let them get too bad before you correct them. Regardless, prevention is better than cure, so keep an eye on your marigolds and ensure they have all they need.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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