Your vegetable garden is growing nicely and you’re due to have an exceptional harvest this year… And then there’s an outbreak of pests and your vegetable garden is ruined.
Pests are a gardener’s worst enemy. They are a nuisance and provide no benefit to your vegetables.
If you end up with an outbreak of pests in your garden, without any intervention, they will consume everything in their path. All that hard work to grow herbs, tomatoes, and pumpkins is sent to the compost bin instead of your kitchen.
But there is a way to naturally deter pests from your garden without the use of chemical pesticides.
Using marigolds in your garden for pest control is effective, cheap, and chemical-free. Marigolds can help to protect your precious crops from a pest invasion.
Keep on reading to find out how you can add marigolds to your garden to protect your crops from garden pests.
How Do Marigolds Repel Garden Pests?
Gardeners have used marigolds for years as a way of repelling garden pests from their beloved vegetables and flowers.
These gardeners rave about how planting marigolds have saved their plants from pests such as aphids, snails, and whitefly. But in fact, there is very little scientific evidence to prove this claim.
The research found the opposite, that marigolds did not repel pests. However, some research did suggest that marigolds attracted pests helping to lure them away from gardener’s prized plants.
Whether or not marigolds truly repel garden pests remains a mystery. Gardeners still swear by their effectiveness. However, it may be the case that marigolds simply help to keep pests away from vegetables as a sacrificial plant.
What Pests Do Marigolds Keep Away?
So do marigolds truly keep away any pests?
In fact, yes they do!
Marigolds have been effective in repelling nematodes. These tiny worms feed on plant roots and can be deadly if they reach your crops.
Marigolds help control nematode populations because their roots release a toxic chemical known as alpha-terthienyl. This chemical prevents nematode eggs from hatching, hence controlling the number of nematodes in your soil.
These brightly colored flowers are useful after all and beneficial when used as a companion plant with your crops.
Many gardeners still strongly believe that marigolds can prevent other pests from feasting on your crops such as
- Slugs and snails
- Butterfly and moth caterpillars
Whether or not you believe fellow gardeners or want to rely on scientific evidence, marigolds are beneficial to your garden. They can:
- Help to repel certain garden pests
- Be used as a trap plant and distract pests from your crops
- Encourage pollinators to visit your garden and fertilize your plants
- Attract natural predators to feast on garden pests e.g. ladybirds and hoverflies
- Camouflage your crops e.g. carrots, with their strong smell and bright colors.
How Do You Plant Marigolds In The Garden For Pest Control?
If you have decided to use marigolds in your garden to repel pests, there is a particular method of planting them for them to be effective.
When planting marigolds, it is best to wait until after the last frost as they do not do well in cold weather. You also need to have started your marigolds before sowing the plants you want to protect.
Start your marigolds from seeds by sowing them directly into the ground. A good idea is to plant a range of marigolds as not all have a scent or are as effective as deterring garden pests. By planting a range, you help to ensure you are attracting pests and that the marigolds will be effective.
Sow seeds in rows in between where you will sow your crops, in groups, and around the outside of your crops. This way you form a secure barrier between the pests and the plants you want to protect.
After around 2 months, your marigolds will have started to grow and spread out their roots. At this point, you can then sow the seeds for your plants. Allowing time for your marigolds to establish before planting the rest of your plants, enables them to be effective straight away at protecting your seedlings and, more importantly, their roots.
One thing to consider is that marigolds thrive best when grown in full sunlight. So it is best to position them in your garden where they will gain maximum sunlight.
Marigold’s roots also do not like being soggy. Before planting, ensure to turn the soil and add sand and compost. The sand helps to break up the soil and improve drainage. Whilst the compost adds nutrients for your marigolds.
Your marigold flowers will start to fade throughout the growing season. When you do see a flowerhead fade, you can remove it and encourage your marigold to produce more flowers.
Unfortunately, marigolds are not perennial. They are annual plants and so do not grow back each year. By the end of the growing season, leave the flowers instead of deadheading them. This way your flowers will turn to seeds for you to replant after the frost the following year.
What NOT To Plant Near Marigolds?
Marigolds do get along with the majority of plants. However, there are some plants you should avoid planting with marigolds.
These plants either compete for space or are affected by the marigold’s toxic chemicals. Ensure to not plant your marigolds near:
- Peas and beans
Using marigolds in the garden for pest control can be extremely effective. Their bright colors attract pests to their natural predators. They release a toxic chemical to control nematodes and they provide a colorful addition to your garden attracting pollinators.
Although not completely scientifically proven, gardeners swear by marigold’s effectiveness in deterring pests and helping their plants to thrive. Whether or not you follow science or experience, marigolds can make a beautiful and useful addition to your garden.
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