It is easy to understand why marigolds are popular pot plants, adding 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 other useful 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 but edible too.
Use the petals and tender green leaves raw or cooked in many dishes, especially in salads or stir-fries. Moreover, you can freeze and use them to decorate summer sweets and ices.
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 butterflies to further add to the beauty of the flowers.
3. Repels Bad Nematodes
There are good and bad nematodes that dwell in the soil. Useful nematodes destroy certain pests in the soil. However, the bad ones are themselves pests, damaging plant roots.
Otherwise known as non-beneficial or root-knot nematodes, these tiny creatures can cause a lot of damage. Plant leaves and stems may become twisted and distorted. Additionally, yellowing, wilting, and stunting may also occur.
French marigold (Tagetes patula) can help to 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 Pollinators
Bees are essential in the ecosystem by pollinating vital crops and plants that feed wildlife, thus sustaining biodiversity.
Bees are particularly attracted to marigolds, so planting is very beneficial to the garden. Likewise, these powerfully scented colorful plants attract other pollinators like butterflies.
If the flowers are not home-raised, it is better to purchase marigold plants from organic nurseries. This will avoid harmful chemical insecticides affecting the pollinators.
5. Attracts Other Beneficial Insects
Marigolds can also bring in wonderfully helpful insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. These insects feed on a host of pests likely to damage vegetables and other garden plants.
The return to organic methods has recently revived this natural way of pest control. For that reason, specialty breeders raise certain predatory insects and supply them to farms and gardens.
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, perfumes and natural fabric dyes are also produced from the plant.
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 rapidly and bloom after about two months.
- Sow about 1 inch apart directly into the earth and water well but without over-watering, using a fine spray.
- Alternatively, the seeds can be planted indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in vermiculite.
- Cover in plastic wrap until germination and give plenty of light.
- Plant out in spring.
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.