Some annuals grow and bloom more vigorously than normal if you trim the right parts at the right time. Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are annuals that can be forced to bloom and spread out. If they are trimmed the right way, marigolds have an extended blooming season. With yellow, orange, red and cream blooms, marigolds can brighten any garden without taking up much of a busy mom's time. The brightly colored blooms are ideal for fresh or dried cut flowers, borders and containers.
Pinch off the terminal bud and the first set of leaves, pinching them off between your fingers just above the second pair of leaves. It is best to pinch after the first few flower buds appear but before they open. New lateral stems replace pinched shoots, meaning the marigold bushes out. Only tall marigold varieties such as African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) should be pinched.
Cut off all spent flowers and their individual stems back to a set of leaves or axil using hand pruners. Check for spent flowers every five to seven days. Deadheading spent flowers encourages the marigolds to continue blooming.
Head back marigolds that look overgrown or straggly, removing stems within 1/4 inch above a lateral bud. Buds replace removed stems, so try to control the direction of new growth to make the marigold look as natural as possible.