Marigolds; Just a Pretty Flower or Much More?

September 2, 2007

Many gardeners like to include marigold flowers in the vegetable garden to add a touch of color from this easy growing plant that performs well from spring thru summer and right into the fall season.

Other gardeners grow marigolds in the hope that they will help in the battle against destructive insects and animal pests. A recent question from Sherwin inquired into the benefits of growing marigolds in the garden for companion purposes and as an organic insect control:

Will Common Marigolds Actually Repel Garden Insect Pests?

Marigolds in the Vegetable Garden“I was wondering about your opinion and observations on marigolds. Are they really a good companion plant?”

“I have read many pages on the internet saying that they are, but the preeminent and prominent gardener in the Atlanta area (Walter Reeves) says that they are of limited effectiveness for repelling garden pests.”

“Do you have anything good or bad to say about your personal experience with marigolds?”

Growing Marigolds as a Companion Plant

Thanks for the question Sherwin, add me to the list of gardeners that like to include marigolds in their garden; but I do so more for the ornamental qualities than with any expectation that they will control insect pests.

I’ve read reports recommending the use of marigolds as an insect repellant, in particular to repel cucumber beetles and other pests around melons, squash, and cucumbers. I am not aware of any research were this practice has been proven to be effective.

Also, my dad swears that a row of marigolds surrounding the garden one year kept all the rabbits at bay. As far as my own observations go, I can’t make any claims one way or the other to the effectiveness of planting marigolds for the purposes of companion gardening or insect control.

Marigold Variety in the Vegetable Patch

Marigolds in the Fall GardenOn the other hand adding variety to the garden is always a good thing! Growing marigolds can’t do any harm and who knows, maybe there is something to the folklore and reputation that they have earned in certain gardening circles.

Another factor to consider is the variety of marigolds that you grow in the garden. It could be that the naysayers have only experimented with the newer strains of marigolds.

The modern hybrids with their interesting patterns and colors are fine if it’s the colorful appearance that you’re after, but for companion planting purposes stick with the old-fashioned, unadulterated varieties.

French marigolds are one of the particular varieties that is recommended for repelling insects, along with Mexican Marigolds which are reputed to exude a substance from their root systems that is helpful in controlling soil-borne nematodes.

The Best Reason for Growing Marigolds as Companion Plants

So get your marigold seeds or seedlings and plant away… at the very least their flowers will add variety and bright colors to dress up your vegetable garden. Grow them because you enjoy them; and if they should happen to reduce harmful insect populations or attract beneficial bugs, that will be an extra and welcomed bonus!

Do you have your an opinion or experience involving using marigolds as a companion plant to deter garden pests? If so Marigolds and Pepperswhat did you discover regarding the effectiveness, and what varieties of marigolds did you grow as companion plants?

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  • Mary

    I included 3 kinds of marigolds in my vegetable garden this year. The small French type, a large carnation-like yellow and a white. Mainly I wanted something pretty to watch while waiting for my tomatoes, pumpkins, cumcumbers, beans. But I have noticed fewer pests in the part of the garden that has marigolds. The part of the garden with China asters has lovely, spectacular flowers, but the vegetable leaves look like lace from slugs and caterpillers.

  • I’ve seen French, Mexican, and Desert marigolds listed as possible deer repellents. If the deer are hungry though, that’s not going to stop them. A scarecrow sprinkler and your favorite organic, commercial repellent will be much more effective.

    As for insect damage, you really have to know the insect you’re dealing with.

    I love marigolds for their color, and that’s why I plant them. With climate, location, hundreds of different insects, etc., it would really take an extensive study to determine their deterrent qualities.

  • Hi Kenny,

    I have included French marigolds in my vegetable this year, it is said that they prevent carrot fly attacking my carrots. Unfortunately it didn’t help them and they still got attacked.

    There is always next year though 🙂

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  • I’ve read about this in Wally Lamb’s book, it seems that these flowers (marigolds) are pretty edible.

  • June

    I’ve used marigolds around my heirloom tomatoes for the first time last year. All I can say is that I put the heirlooms in a different row than the other tomato varietes, planted the marigolds around them and had the best crop ever! The plants looked less stressed, less buggy and got more heirlooms! I’m trying it again this year. I’m converted now – and besides they are beautiful so why not.

  • lynne

    I tried for a couple of years to plant marigolds with my veggies. Something likes to eat them! Every year the marigolds were eaten down to the stem. The tomatoes however, were OK!

  • Pingback: Is planting marigolds along with vegetables good for deterring pests and what types of pests? | The Gardening Manual()

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