It is easy to understand why some marigolds are popular pot plants. They add bright orange and yellow splashes to patios, porches, and verandas.
Besides that, there are many advantages to planting them in and around the garden. Marigolds attract bees and many other beneficial insects, among other things.
Here are 10 benefits of planting marigolds in the vegetable garden:
1. Edible Flowers
A joyful addition to the kitchen, marigold flowers are not just colorful; some varieties are edible too.
Use the petals and tender green leaves of edible marigolds raw or cooked in salads or stir-fries. Moreover, you can freeze them and use them to decorate summer sweets.
2. Adds Color and Beauty
The flowers will brighten up the dullest patch in any garden. They thrive anywhere there is some sunshine and will respond by quickly producing various gorgeous warm colors.
Marigolds also attract some butterflies, which further adds to the beauty of the flowers.
3. Suppresses Plant-Parasitic Nematodes
There are good and bad nematodes that dwell in the soil. Useful nematodes destroy certain pests in the soil. But the bad ones are themselves pests, damaging plant roots.
For example, root-knot nematodes are tiny creatures that can cause a lot of damage to certain plant roots. They may cause the plant’s leaves and stems to become twisted and distorted. Additionally, wilting and stunting may also occur.
French marigold (Tagetes patula) can help control bad nematodes. Studies suggest that the plant produces allelopathic compounds that are toxic to these harmful pests .
A few months after sowing, the French marigold produces a substance in its roots that kills nematodes.
4. Attracts Bees and Other Pollinators
Bees are essential to the ecosystem. They pollinate vital crops and plants that feed wildlife, thus sustaining biodiversity.
Bees are particularly attracted to marigolds, so planting them is very beneficial to the garden. Likewise, these powerfully scented, colorful plants attract other pollinators like butterflies.
If the flowers are not already growing in your yard, it is best to purchase marigold plants or seeds from organic nurseries. This will prevent harmful chemical insecticides from affecting pollinators.
5. Attracts Other Beneficial Insects
Beneficial insects feed on a host of pests likely to damage vegetables and other garden plants. The return to organic methods has revived this natural method of pest control.
As a result, certain predatory insects are commercially available. You can buy them for your garden. Marigolds can also bring in some helpful insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
6. Great Trap Crop
Sometimes described as sacrificial, some plants can act as a lure for pests.
Plant marigolds among other ornamentals and vegetables to attract pests such as slugs. You can then pick off the critters or eliminate them by other methods.
7. Medicinal Calendula
Pot marigold is a medicinal herb known for its multitude of health benefits and healing properties.
Easily grown in the garden, the flower heads can be used in infusions and compresses. Calendula officinalis works well for many ailments, including gingivitis, skin issues, and swellings. Additionally, it promotes wound healing .
You can also make the powder into creams for wounds, abrasions, burns, and sores. Besides, marigold oil and natural fabric dyes are also produced from the flowers.
8. Pest Repellent
Use marigolds in the garden for pest control.
Pests that marigolds repel include ants, whiteflies, aphids, tomato hornworms, cucumber beetles, and thrips. Marigolds also keep away mosquitoes, cabbage worms, and Mexican bean beetles.
Additionally, rabbits, squirrels, deer, and other wildlife are well known for ruining vegetable patches.
Although the jury is out on the plant’s effectiveness as a deterrent for these animals, many gardeners say it does help. Rabbits and deer seem to hate the taste and smell of marigolds.
9. Protects Tomatoes
French marigolds and calendula are useful in protecting tomatoes. Gardeners have long planted tomatoes and marigolds together to deter a host of pests, including tomato worms.
10. Companion Plant
Companion planting with marigolds enhances the growth of some crops.
Vegetables that you can plant with marigolds include potatoes, melons, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplants, various squashes and gourds, and cucumbers.
How to Grow Marigolds
Marigolds are an attractive plant for many reasons. They are colorful, scented, have many uses, and are easy to grow.
The plants thrive in most soils. And as long as they have their faces to the sun, they will give lasting pleasure over a long season. Besides, they require very little care—only occasional watering in dry weather.
It is best to plant marigolds from seed after the frosty season. After that period, it should germinate and bloom after about two months.
Sow about 1 inch apart directly into the ground, and water well but without overwatering.
Or, plant the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Cover in plastic wrap until germination and give plenty of light.
With so many benefits, it is no wonder marigold is such a popular plant. For the organic gardener, they can be a joy to view and a boon to the vegetable garden.