Marigolds are easy to grow, and their bright autumn colors make for a perfect addition to any floral garden. But this hardy flower also makes a great companion plant for your vegetable garden. Here are six ways this amazing flower can benefit the food crops you grow at home.
1. Marigolds Attract Pollinators
Pollinators love marigolds! Plant them near crops like acorn squash, yellow squash, zucchini, patty pan squash, cucumbers, and other vegetables that require pollination. Soon they will attract butterflies, bees, wasps, and other pollinators that will be more than happy to help pollinate your vegetable plants. If you are planting marigolds to primarily attract butterflies, you may want to plant single flower varieties as they are easier for the butterflies to extract the nectar.
2. Marigolds Attract Beneficial Predator Insects
Another benefit of planting marigolds in your vegetable garden is that they will attract beneficial insects that will help control harmful pests. Ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, assassin bugs, and lacewings, for example, will be drawn to the marigolds and then enticed to stay in your garden to hunt any aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, or other destructive bugs that may be present.
3. Marigolds As A Trap Crop
A trap crop is a plant or plants that are strategically placed in the garden to lure certain pests away from other plants that are more prized. Marigolds make an effective trap crop to lure slimy slugs, snails, and tomato fruit borers away from vegetable plants. These garden pests can then be removed from the marigolds, or, if you are so inclined, you can plant extra flowers to ensure that both you and the pests have plenty of marigolds to enjoy.
4. Marigolds Repel Certain Insects
Not everyone is crazy about the marigold’s scent. Mexican bean beetles, whiteflies, cabbage moths, flea beetles, mosquitoes, and cucumber beetles are repelled by the strong aroma the autumn-colored blossoms emit. Research reports that the scent’s secret weapon is limonene, a chemical thought to cause an overstimulation of the pests’ central nervous system, causing them to avoid the area.
In addition, experienced gardeners report that cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, and squash bugs also do not like the smell, although not much research has been done to validate these claims. The best way to find out what works for you is to perform your own experiments.
5. Marigolds Eliminate Root Knot Nematodes
Marigolds release a naturally occurring chemical called alpha-terthienyl into the soil, which is toxic to root knot nematodes. All marigolds produce the chemical, but French marigolds have a higher concentration of it, which is why they work best against the microscopic worms. In addition, the roots of this flower are difficult for root knot nematodes to inhabit, making it a double threat for the soil-borne organism. You can learn more about how to treat root knot nematodes in this helpful article.
6. Marigolds Deter Certain Animals
Many gardeners insist that a generous planting of marigolds will help deter animals that can wreak havoc in your garden. One rationale behind this application is that animals like cats, rabbits, and possibly mice will be attracted to the brightly colored flowers and leave the rest of the garden alone. Still, others maintain that African marigolds (a.k.a. Mexican or Aztec marigolds) and signet marigolds are effective deterrents against larger pests like deer. Some contend, however, that this garden beauty is not effective against these critters. If you have problems with animals invading your garden space, you may want to experiment with these measures.
Not only are marigolds hardy flowers that are easy to grow, but they can also assist and protect your vegetable plants so that you can reap a bountiful harvest.
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