Tagetes species vary in size from 0.1 to 2.2 m tall. Most species have pinnate green leaves. Blooms naturally occur in golden, orange, yellow, and white colors, often with maroon highlights. Floral heads are typically (1-) to 4–6 cm diameter, generally with both ray florets and disc florets. In horticulture, they tend to be planted as annuals, although the perennial species are gaining popularity. They have fibrous roots.
Depending on the species, Tagetes species grow well in almost any sort of soil. Most horticultural selections grow best in soil with good drainage, even though some cultivars are known to have good tolerance to drought.