As a kid, my least favorite flower was the marigold. Companion plants, pollinators, and wondering how the heck to keep rabbits out of my garden was still years away. Marigolds, on the other hand, were right there in front of me. So was the bee that stung me, along with a few of his fellow bees gathering pollen from the flowers. In my eight-year-old mind it was all connected: marigolds attract bees, bees sting you, therefore, marigolds were the worst flower ever.
There was still a lot I didn’t know about garden ecosystems, flower and plant fertilization, and how bees are basically responsible for probably three-fourths of the food in my pantry. It also turns out that there are quite a few marigold companion plants that create little dynamic duos in the garden.
Why the marigold is the perfect companion
Companion planting is one of the oldest approaches to gardening. Different plants support each other in a myriad of ways, from adding nutrients to the soil to preventing pests and diseases to offering each other shade and keeping the soil moist. Some plants are a bit snooty about who they have as a neighbor. Others, like the bright yellow and orange marigold, it turns out, are the life of the party. The more the merrier for marigold companion plants. It’s also quite the benefactor for other plants. Why?
Marigolds attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. They attract predatory insects, like ladybugs, that feed on aphids and other pests. The limonene in marigolds can help deter whiteflies and their roots secrete chemicals that kill nematodes. And not only are they little pest-deterring workhorses, marigolds are easy to grow and they’re truly beautiful. Wow!
10 Marigold companion plants that belong in your garden (and 2 that don’t)
Okay, so the marigold is amazing, but what are the best marigold companion plants? Here are some of my favorites:
It’s important to point out, however, that not all plants work as marigold companion plants. For example, some gardeners swear that marigolds stunt the growth of pole beans. I’ve also heard that marigolds and cabbage don’t get along so well. Admittedly, I can’t say this is definitely true, but I also haven’t tried planting them close together because why take that chance? I do know that marigolds attract slugs and snails, although, if you set your flowers a little bit away from your vegetables, that can be beneficial.
Honestly, though, these are such easy flowers to grow, and they add wonderfully bright colors to your garden. There’s really no downside here.
What do you think? Have you tried planting marigolds as companion plants? I’d love to hear how that worked out and if you would do anything differently in the future.
We’ve planted marigolds as a front path edging because I love the colours and because we grew up with them in South Africa. Now we’ve added them to our raised bed gardens where we grow tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, sweet peppers. Since we started doing this, no issues with bugs. And lady bugs still in abundance keeping aphids at bay.
I am a huge fan of companion planting. I put marigolds with my cabbage for the first time last year and they were full of earwigs. Those that I planted in containers with no marigolds did not have any earwig issues.
I will definitely keep using marigolds, but not with my cabbages.
Haven’t had potato bugs since planting marigolds along side of them
I have been saving my marigold seeds for over 40 years and I absolutely love them.
I plant marigolds with my green beans (not pole beans, but they are runners). They do not stunt their growth. Year before last I put marigolds in both my gardens and everybody loved them. This years I did not plant them and that was a big mistake.
Loved this article! I have a terrace garden that is 100 feet long by 12 feet wide. I have always planted marigolds on the outer edge of the terrace wall for more than 20 years now. I rarely have any bug problems in this garden and I know it is because of the marigolds. The other important thing that marigolds do is self propagate at the end of the season. When the flower heads start withering and shrink up into a tight seed head, that is when I get excited. Wait until the seed head is totally dry and brown before you pick it if you can. This last year our northern weather closed in really fast and I only got half of the marigold seeds gathered. So, this coming spring, I will gather any seed pods that have not been beaten off of the plants by the wind and snow and I will gather even those lying on the ground. When I plant them, I only remove about a 1/3″ of soil and rub the seed pods between my hands to free the individual seeds and sprinkle them on the soil and cover with the soil you removed. You need to know and remember that seeds you gather yourself will not have as high a germination rate as seeds you buy at the store. I don’t really know why this is true, but it is. Even with that downside to saving your own seeds, it is still a wonderful, money saving practice.
How do they survive in the heat in Florida?
Marigolds grow great in Florida, they can grow in zones 2-11 and love the sunshine.