Evergreen plant in the daisy family with finely divided, pinnately compound foliage and orange-yellow flowers during most of the year, but in particular during autumn and winter. The leaves have a strong fragrance, somewhat like the scent of passionfruit (according to some the foliage smells like a combination of marigold, lemon, and mint). Oils in the plant may cause skin irritation in some people. Attracts bees and butterflies.
Discovered in Arizona by plant collectors John and Sara Lemmon in the late 1800s. Its natural habitat stretches south from Arizona down to norther Mexico.
Tagetes lemmonii does best in a sunny position in well-draining soil. Becomes leggy when it doesn't receive enough sunlight. In very hot climates, a partially shaded position is best. Drought-tolerant, but prefers some regular irrigation. Avoid over-watering. Easy to propagate from cuttings, and can also be divided or propagated from seed. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-11). Although some frost damage may occur in zone 8, the plant will bounce back in spring. Trim once a year to keep the plant compact.
Tagetes lemmonii is supposed to flower in response to short days, but in my garden it has been in flower since it was large enough in spring and now, mid-summer, it is still covered with flowers. Each time I photograph this plant I am disappointed to find that the flower colour in the photo appears more yellow than orange, whereas in reality the flowers look more orange than yellow to me. The plant has a lovely, somewhat whimsical appearance.