Why You Should Grow Marigolds As Companion Plants

Why You Should Grow Marigolds As Companion Plants

Updated 20 May 2023 – Who doesn’t love growing marigolds? They provide a lovely splash of color to any garden and their blooms last for a long time. But, should you grow marigolds as companion plants among your vegetables?

We’ll discuss this in more detail, but first, did you know that there are actually different species of marigolds?

Types Of Marigolds

Generally, marigolds fall into two separate plant genera – Tagetes and Calendula. Plus, there are different species in the Tagetes family as well. Let’s look at the common species that most people are familiar with.

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  1. French Marigolds (Tagetes patula) This species is popular among all types of gardeners. It’s a small growing annual to a height of 6 – 12 inches. The flowers come in colors of red, orange and yellow. The French marigold is also a hardy plant and loves growing in full sun.

2. African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) African marigolds are characterized by large pom-pom type blooms. These usually appear in colors of red, orange, white and yellow. These plants grow to a height of 1 to 3 feet so they’re a much taller grower than the French variety.

3. Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) This species of marigold is a member of the daisy family. The flowers are actually edible. Plus, calendulas are often used for tea and the oil can be extracted for various natural remedies. The flowers come in colors of yellow and orange.

Note: Although Calendula flowers are edible, the flowers of the Tagetes genus are NOT and should not be ingested.

You can grow any of these species as companion plants in your vegetable garden but just be aware of which one you’re growing.

Why Should You Grow Marigolds As Companion Plants?

Gardeners around the world have touted for centuries that marigolds make good companion plants. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to back this up.

However, you should know by now that gardening is not an exact science. As avid gardeners, we are all inherent scientists and like conducting our own experiments to see what works and what doesn’t.

Personally, I love marigolds and think they add a splash of cheery color to any vegetable garden. This is enough reason to plant these annuals among our sometimes dull-looking vegetable crops.

After all, gardening is as much about aesthetics as it is about producing our own food.

I did find a study conducted by the Umass Extension Center for Agriculture that said that the roots of both African and French marigolds produce biochemicals that are harmful to nematodes. Harmful nematodes are small worm-like organisms that attack the roots of plants like tomatoes. However, it was concluded that this was only the case when marigolds were grown as a cover crop and then tilled into the soil.

What Gardeners Say About Marigolds

Ok, so let’s use a little bit of logic here. Marigolds range in color from yellow to red. It’s a known fact that bees and other beneficial insects are attracted to the color yellow.

So, if you’re growing flowering crops such as zucchinis, corn and cucumbers, you want to attract bees to your garden. Right?

If you weren’t aware, some flowering crops produce both male and female flowers. Zucchinis are well known for this. It’s the female flowers that produce the actual fruit. But, for the fruit to form, these flowers have to be pollinated with the pollen of the male flowers.

The easiest way for this to happen is to get bees to do it for you. This is one of the major reasons that environmentalists are always concerned about the bee population. Without bees, we would not be able to produce a lot of the fruit and vegetables that we consume.

So, growing marigolds around your vegetables is a great way to attract bees to your garden.

Do Marigolds Repel Aphids?

You might read in other articles that marigolds can repel aphids. Actually, the opposite is true. Quite often, aphids are actually attracted to the marigolds.

But, we can use this to our advantage by using the marigolds as aphid traps. In other words, the aphids will attack the marigolds and leave other plants alone. Thankfully, marigolds are fairly hardy. Therefore, it gives you time to eliminate the aphids before they end up on your precious vegetables or roses.

Why You Should Make Sure You Plant Fragrant Marigolds

Unfortunately, a lot of the hybrid species that are bred today have lost their fragrance. Therefore, it’s important that you plant pure marigold species that still retain their strong aroma.

Why? It’s said that this aroma can deter certain pests from your garden including rabbits. Now, I have nothing against bunnies, but I would prefer that they didn’t eat my vegetables!

What Vegetables Should You Grow With Marigolds?

As is the case with all companion planting, there are some vegetables that love having marigolds nearby and others that don’t.

Here’s a list of vegetables that are happy to share their plot with marigolds:

  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants (Aubergine)
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Melons

What Should You Not Plant Marigolds With?

There appear to be certain vegetables that are not happy having marigolds around. The most prominent of these are beans.

The reason for this is that the chemical that marigold roots produce seems to inhibit the growth of bean plants. For this reason, I would look for other companions for my bean plants.

Another controversy seems to surround the companion planting of marigolds with brassicas like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. On the one hand, I’ve read that marigolds will deter white cabbage moths. But, other sources say that brassicas do not like marigolds as companions.

Hmmm – I feel an experiment coming on! One issue I can see with this though is that brassicas are winter crops and marigolds are summer annuals. Although, I’m sure there’s quite a bit of overlap as my broccoli is still growing and fruiting even though it’s the middle of summer here now.

I’ll let you know if I decide to experiment with growing marigolds near my broccoli.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare the soil before planting marigolds?

If you’re planting marigolds around your vegetable garden, you should already have suitable soil that will support the growth of marigolds. Otherwise, adding a little organic matter to the soil before planting is recommended.

When is the best time to sow marigold seeds or transplant marigold seedlings?

Marigolds seeds can be started indoors around six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Alternatively, you can purchase marigold seedlings and plant them out in the garden when all danger of frost is over.

How much sunlight do marigolds need?

Ideally, marigolds will grow best in full sun. But, this shouldn’t be a problem when you’re using them as companions for your vegetables because most vegetables also prefer to grow in the sunshine.

Can marigolds be grown in containers as companion plants?

Absolutely! If you have limited space in your veggie patch, you can easily grow marigolds in containers and place these around your vegetable garden. Just be sure to keep them well watered as the soil in pots does dry out much faster.

Should I deadhead marigolds when the flowers have finished?

Yes, deadheading your marigolds is an excellent idea as this will encourage the plants to produce more colorful flowers throughout the season.

Final Thoughts

No matter whether marigolds add any benefits to our vegetables or not, they do provide a colorful addition to the veggie plot. Plus, they attract bees! That’s reason enough for me to grow them among my zucchini and tomatoes.

Have you tried growing marigolds as companion plants? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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