Marigolds Pleasing Prolific Flowers Repel Pests

January 29, 2023 0 Comments

The humble marigold is often the favorite flower of vegetable growers, and there are good reasons: marigolds help ward off many different pests. They bloom almost continuously from after spring to autumn, as long as you remove the exhausted flowers. And they’re beautiful.

But how do marigolds create this pest control environment? Are there any plants that you should not grow around marigolds, and if so, which ones? And is there a right way to grow marigolds?

Let’s explore these fascinating types of flowers in depth and go through everything you need to know to grow them correctly!

With around 56 species, marigolds or Tagetes are extremely popular plants. Many varieties such as tagetes tenufolia, Tagetes lucida and Tagetes minuta have edible flowers and offer a spicy citrus or mint flavor to an assortment of dishes.

Although many today’s hybrids are odorless, those with a smell are often compared to the smell of wet hay or straw. This smell is famous for hunting Mexican bean beetles and other beetles, squash bugs and leafhoppers, and even tomato hornworms.

Whether it works or not, what really works is planting marigolds to keep pestilent nematodes at bay. A compound naturally present in marigold roots will eliminate nematodes from the root nodes in the area where it is planted.

The smell of marigolds is also deeply rooted in tradition. This aroma, as well as its vibrant color, are believed to guide the spirits of the dead to their families during Dia De los Muertos, the day of the dead in Mexico. They are used to decorate altars or calendars of relatives.

In fact, it is such a popular flower at this time of year that it is called the flower of the dead. Pixar animated millions of tiny marigold petals in their film “Coco” to create the bridges that ghosts Cross, and marigolds are found throughout the film.

So whether you’re growing them to eliminate pests, to provide vibrant petals to decorate your salad, to bring memories closer to your family, or just for a touch of color in the garden, there’s a lot of history behind this simple little flower!

Types Of Concerns

There is no reasonable way to cover all types of marigolds in one small piece, so let’s look at some of the most popular varieties. There are also individual cultivars and hybrids of these species, but at least this will give you an overview of what there is!

Tagetes erecta, ‘African Marigold’, ‘Aztec Marigold’, ‘American Marigold’

One of the largest species of marigold, the Aztec marigold grows to heights of 20 to 35 centimeters long and wide, producing an abundance of brightly colored flowers. Its flowers are edible, its roots eliminate nematode populations, and it is a source of many natural dyes.

This variety of marigold is better known as flor de muertos, or flower of the dead, and is often grown in cemeteries.

Tagetes patula, ‘French Marigold’

Rarely reaching much more than a foot, the French marigold is also native to Mexico. Much more fragrant than the Aztec marigold, it is often the species grown as an aromatic pest repellent. The roots also secrete natural nematodes.

When the plant is in bloom, the whole plant is distilled for its essential oil, which is used to make a type of perfume called attar genda. The flowers themselves are edible and are often ground into a herbal mixture. This species can also be used to make natural dyes.

Tagetes tenuifolia, ‘Signet Marigolds’, ‘Golden Marigold’

Native to the region from Mexico to South America, the seal marigold is often grown to act as a mosquito repellent due to its powerful Hay odor. It has flat flowers in contrast to the French and African varieties and their more swollen flowers.

Golden marigolds reach heights of 10 to 20 inches and can spread almost invasively if not cared for properly. These also produce edible flowers, which are often used directly on salads when fresh or added to spice mixes when dried.

Tagetes lucida, ‘Mexican Marigold’, ‘Mexican Mint Marigold’, ‘Texas Tarragon’, ‘Mexican Tarragon’, ‘Spanish Tarragon’, ‘Sweetscented Marigold’, ‘Sweet Mace’, ‘Pericon’, ‘Yerbaniz’, ‘Hierbanis’

Although it has a ridiculous number of names, Tagetes lucida is probably best known as a spice. The petals lightly flavored with anise are used to prepare tea in Mexico and in some regions of Central America where it comes from, and it is often used as a substitute for tarragon.

Some species are bushier than others, and this marigold variety reaches a height of 18 to 30 inches. It is a form of wild marigold, but it is beginning to be cultivated because extracts from the plant prove medically viable in laboratory studies.

Tagetes minuta, ‘Wild Marigold’, ‘Huacatay’, ‘Southern Marigold’, ‘Stinking Roger’, ‘Black Mint’, ‘Khakibos’

The “minuta” in the name of this plant certainly does not apply to the plant, which is anything but minute! This extremely tall plant can reach heights ranging from 2 to 6 feet tall. However, its flowers are extremely small, which is why it gets its name.

Unlike other Marigold species, the leaves of the wild marigold are edible rather than the flowers. They are often dried as a seasoning or made into a paste called black mint paste. The oils of the plant are distilled as marigold oil and used in many different industries.

The flavor of the leaves is a mixture of basil, tarragon, mint and citrus and is popular in seasoning ocopa, a Peruvian dish made with potatoes.

Caring For Marigolds

With the exception of a few light watering and the regular head of worn flowers, marigolds are extremely easy to care for plants. In fact, they are a popular variety for children to grow up as science experiments! For optimal growth, go through the following sections for tips.

Light and temperature

Marigolds prefer full sun to create these vibrant flowers. However, they will tolerate partial afternoon shade if that is what is available. Aim for at least 6 hours of good sunlight per day for better growth.

Although many plants are very specific to an area, marigolds are not. They grow easily in zones 2 to 11, making them one of the widest flowers available. However, most species do not tolerate frost, and the plant will pass away as soon as the cold weather arrives.

Water and humidity

Although marigolds can withstand the heat, they have some moisture problems. It is important to water only at the base of the plant, as mildew is a very real peril for the foliage if it gets wet. In addition, good air circulation is a must, especially in wetter conditions.

It is recommended to allow the soil to dry out a little between watering, but when watering, water well and deeply to provide sufficient moisture. In hot weather, more water is needed, because although the plants thrive well in the sun, they still need a refreshing drink.


Your Marigolds can withstand almost any soil type or pH level. They are not very picky plants in the wild, and the same goes for your garden. However, a mixture of sand or silt with a lot of organic matter is preferable, as clayey soils can cause drainage problems or promote root rot.

You don’t want too rich soil either. Marigolds are not heavy feeders, and in fact, too rich a soil can actually inflate the growth of your plant and not bloom at all. Something less nutritious is actually great for marigolds.

Whatever type of soil you choose, make sure it is well drained. If you need to add perlite or other drainage tools, do so. If the soil contains too much water, you peril damaging the roots of your plants.


Since most types of marigolds are annuals, you do not need to repeatedly fertilize throughout the season. A good dose of balanced organic fertilizer and rich compost mixed into your soil before planting is all you need.

I avoid fertilization during the plant’s growth cycle. Too much fertilization will cause your plant to just try to grow and develop more, and it will not spend a lot of energy on flowering. For the best flowers, stick to pre-planting fertilization only!

Your plants themselves can become fertilizer for planting next year. When they have begun to pass away in the fall, plant them underground to allow them to decompose during the winter months. This adds valuable plant matter and nutrients to the soil.


Newly planted marigolds should have time to settle. It’s best to make sure they have 2-3 weeks before doing much with them. After that, you can pinch the tops of the new growth from the start to encourage a bushier growth habit.

The dead head of your worn flowers regularly encourages your plant to bloom again. With constant deadheading, you can have a riot of colors all summer and until autumn!

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