Learn How To Grow Desert Marigold

Desert marigold, known botanically as Baileya Multiradiata [BAY-lee-uh, mul-ty-rad-ee-AH-tuh], is a flowering species from the composite plant family (Compositae or Asteraceae family). 

This is a sun-loving wildflower, native to northern Mexico and southwest North America, United States. 

Yellow blooming Desert Marigold (Baileya Multiradiata)

The flowering plant species are typically found in the regions of Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, Texas, Durango, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, California, to name a few.

The plant’s scientific name “Baileya” is a tribute to a famous chemist and botanist Jacob Whitman Bailey. 

The second half of the name “Multiradiata” refers to the individual florets on each head of the flower. 

Some common names of desert marigold are:

  • Wooly desert marigold
  • Mary’s Gold
  • Paper Daisy
  • Desert Baileya

Desert Marigold Plant Care

Size and Growth

Desert marigold is a compact biennial plant, featuring daisy-like flowers and wooly grayish-green leaves. 

The plant comes in its full glory from early spring to late summer. 

Some species of the flowering plant stay abloom all year round.

In an ideal growing condition, the flowering species grows up to 1’ – 1.5’ feet tall and 2’ feet wide. 

The summer flower is capable to grow even in the most disturbing parts of the land, along roadsides, rocky slopes, and desert plains.  

Flowering and Fragrance

Desert marigold plants are distinguished by their bright yellow flowers of 1” to 4” inches long. 

These long-lasting ray flower rosettes grow up on nearly leafless, long stems and woolly foliage.

As the flower blooms and mature over time, it becomes papery, hence the name “Paper Daisy”.

Desert marigold feature compound flower heads with plenty of vivid rosettes, resembling beautiful daisies. 

These clusters of bright gold flower colors have an unforgettably sweet scent to them.

Light and Temperature

Baileya multiradiata prefers full sun or part shade for its proper growth. 

The light, airy plant has the ability to tolerate light frost. 

However, it usually loses its youth from April and May when the temperature increases above 95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C).

 The USDA Hardiness zone of desert marigolds is 9 – 10 (arid zones only). 

The minimum temperature required for the growth of the desert marigold is 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C).

Watering and Feeding

Desert marigolds are drought-tolerant plants, meaning they easily prosper without frequent watering. 

However, the plant needs watering in its first year the most. In the hot summer months, the plant needs watering twice a week. 

In subsequent years, watering of the plant is reduced to once a week.

 Continuous watering may hinder the growth of desert marigold plants. 

They do well with a limited amount of irrigation water. 

When it comes to feeding, the paper daisy prefers fertilization two or three times a year.

Soil and Transplanting

  • This herbaceous plant is not fussy about its soil. 
  • The plant thrives best in well-drained soil, allowing water to drain at a moderate rate. 
  • Transplanting desert marigold plants from a container is easier. 
  • When transplanting desert marigold, take a deeper and wider container than the current one. 
  • Water the plant for a few days for problem-free transplanting.
  • After the plant is successfully transferred into a new pot, make sure to provide good drainage to establish its roots. 
  • Water twice a week for the first month and then reduce to once a week and then to once a month only.

Grooming and Maintenance

Desert marigold plants require minimum care and maintenance. 

When young, the plant needs direct sunlight or partial shade. 

Do not overwater the plant. 

Too much watering eventually rots and kills the plant. 

In addition to well-draining soil, make sure to provide organic mulch to the plant. 

Light pruning is encouraged to see additional blossoms.

How to Propagate Baileya Multiradiata

Typically, the propagation of desert marigold plants is performed through seeds.  

The seeds should be planted ¼” inch deep during fall or winter. 

Poor or erratic germination is common so make sure to reseed plenty of seeds at once.

Baileya Multiradiata Pests and Diseases

Generally, desert marigold makes for a pest-resistant plant. 

However, the plant suffers from several diseases. 

Some of the most common desert marigold diseases are rots, mildews, and blights. 

These diseases usually pop up during wet and warm weather conditions. 

Overcome this health concern by eliminating overhead watering.

Other less common marigold diseases are powdery mildew and bacterial leaf spot.

Desert Marigold Uses

Desert marigold is usually grown as part of a wildflower garden in hot, arid regions and as a pollinator.

This stunning plant also makes for a gorgeous addition to a rock garden. 

During the blooming season, the fresh yellow blooms are often used as cut flowers to enhance indoor beauty or to gift someone on a special occasion.

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