Desert Marigold

Baileya multiradiata

You may find desert marigold blooming at almost any time of the year. Its large yellow daisies and almost white foliage make a cheerful addition to any garden and look great near cactus and other succulents. It is a short-lived native perennial that will reseed regularly. Transplant seedlings in fall if you want to spread them around.

Give desert marigold good drainage and full sun. It can survive on natural rainfall. Help it out in the driest years by providing some gravel mulch, by planting it near rocks where the roots can enjoy the cooler, moister soil under the rock, or by getting out your watering can. Faded flowers can be removed any time. If it begins looking ratty, cut off all the upper foliage, leaving about 3 inches of fresh leaves.

Notes: desert marigold and bahia may look similar at first glance. This Weekly Plant shows how to tell the two plants apart.

Wildlife value: attracts insects, including pollinators.

More Information:

Weekly Plant on desert marigold and bahia

Horticultural information from Pima County Master Gardeners

Horticultural information from ASU

Map of distribution in US

In books:

Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes by Judy Mielke, page 87.

Perennials for the Southwest by Mary Irish, page 105.




ID Characteristics

This plant is in the Asteraceae - the aster family.
form of desert marigold at Academy Village
Desert marigold has an upright form, though it can sprawl as the season progresses, eventually reaching about 2 feet across. The basal foliage is about 6 inches high, the flowers rise to about 20 inches.
Desert marigold leaves at Academy Village
The basal leaves of desert marigold are about 4 inches long, thin at the base and lobed at the end. They are covered with whitish hairs that make the leaves soft to the touch.

flower of desert marigold blooming at Academy Village

Desert marigold has bright yellow flowers about 2 inches across. There are several overlapping layers. Each petal has 3 shallow lobes. The flower stems has a few small, alternate leaves and is often leafless near the flower head.
fruit of desert marigold at Academy Village
Many single-seeded fruit are formed in the center of the flower. Allow these to fall if you want seedlings in the coming years. To clean up the plant, cut off the flower stalk, not below the flower, but all the way down at the base of that long flower stalk.