Marigold flowers make an excellent addition to garden beds, containers, edges, and pathways, but they excel interplanted in the vegetable garden. Marigolds fair well with a variety of different plants, but some plants reap significant benefits planted as partners. We have the complete list of the very best marigold companion plants. After you see the list, you’ll understand how versatile these wonderful little flowers are to have in the garden.
The Benefits of Companion Planting Marigolds
Marigolds are one of the hardest working summer flowers and are a good companion plant in the vegetable garden. They offer a list of benefits such as:
Attract pollinators: Their bright colors and abundant food sources attract bees. Those pollinators will help increase yields in your vegetable gardens.
Attract beneficial predatory insects: marigolds attract helpful bugs like parasitic wasps and ladybugs.
Repel harmful insects: Marigolds’ strong scents act as pest control for common garden pests such as squash bugs and tomato worms. The flowers are also a favorite food of slugs, spider mites and Japanese beetles, making them an excellent trap crop in the garden to keep these pests away from your veggies.
Help improve the soil: Turning the flowers into the ground at the end of the season helps kill pests like root-knot nematodes. Or the plants provide a living mulch to help keep the soil cool and moist.
They help control weeds: Densely planting marigolds under plants like beans or in open spaces around other veggies makes it difficult for weeds to take hold.
Companion planting can help with disease issues. Diseases are spread more quickly through your garden when plants of the same type are planted in a large grouping. Adding different species throughout the planting can help break up the garden and slow the spread of diseases like powdery mildew or blight.
You can see from this list that marigolds make an exceptional beneficial plant to interplant with your edible crops to create a healthy environment for your plants to thrive.
See: Companion Planting
Quick Marigold Planting & Care Tips
Marigolds have feathery-looking leaves with strongly scented foliage. They bloom and grow all summer long, right up until the first frost, so long as you follow a few environmental conditions. You can easily start all the different types of marigolds from seed or buy a few trays from your local garden center in spring.
Planting: You can sow marigold seeds directly into the garden after the last chance of frost in your area, and the soil has warmed to 70F. To plant out seedlings, wait until all possibilities of frost have passed.
Height & Spread: T. erecta (American or African marigolds) grow to a height of 2-3 feet with a spread of 10-12 inches. T.patula (French marigolds) will grow from 1-2 feet with a spread of 10-12 inches.
Sun exposure: For best blooms, plant marigolds in full sun. They will tolerate early morning or late afternoon shade so long they receive sun for the rest of the day.
Soil requirements: Plant in well-drained soil that is not overly rich in nutrients.
Watering: Make sure flowers get at least 1 inch of water every week. Let plants nearly dry out between watering.
Bloom time: Flowers will bloom from early summer until the first frost so long as you remove spent heads throughout the garden season.
Note: I see pot marigold (calendula Officinalis) mentioned in marigold companion lists, but pot marigold is not an actual marigold. It does have a place as a companion in the veggie garden, just not on this list.
What are some good companion plants for Marigolds in a Vegetable garden?
Here is the quick list. We’ve outlined each recommendation with reasons why marigolds make good companions below. Marigold companion plants:
- Bush beans
- Pole beans
- Green beans
Marigolds make an excellent companion plant with tomatoes.
Research studies have shown that marigolds are very good at destroying root-knot-nematodes in the soil. However, the flowers only kill the nematodes under the soil, so either plant your tomatoes in beds that grew and tilled marigolds the year before, or wait until the plants are at least two months old and till them into the soil.
The pungent scent of marigolds also discourages various pests such as tomato hornworms, whiteflies, and thrips. Deer and rabbits are not fussy for marigolds and will only eat them if no other food source is available.
Marigolds will attract spider mites and slugs making them a good trap crop if those pests are an issue in your garden.
For years experienced gardens have said that marigolds help improve the flavor of their tomato plants!
Marigolds are said to deter Colorado potato beetles. So adding marigolds to the potato bed is a natural organic way to help keep these pesky potato bugs off your precious potato crop. The flowers will also help protect sweet potato vines!
Marigolds also add a pop of lovely color to rows or beds of potatoes.
bush beans, pole beans, green beans, and peas
In the case of beans and peas, marigolds protect the plants by repelling the Mexican bean beetle. Mexican bean beetles damage bean plants by feeding aggressively on the leaves. This destruction will severely impact the yields of your bush bean plants.
For trellised or supported beans and peas like pole beans and sweet peas, plant the marigolds in proximity to the base of the plants.
cucumber, melons, pumpkins, and squash
Marigolds help repel cucumber beetles and act as a trap crop for flea beetles. Although smaller marigolds will get lost in the foliage of the larger pumpkin plants, we recommend planting them around the edges of the rows or beds.
The brightly colored flowers of the marigolds will also help attract pollinators like bees. Members of the cucumber family require pollinators, and any addition you can make to attract them to your garden will help increase your fall yields.
Tilling marigolds into the beds at the end of the season will also help destroy root-knot nematodes that harm members of the cucumber family.
I love to plant nasturtiums with marigolds all over the garden. They make an excellent 1-2 punch for harmful pests.
The sun-loving flowers both like similar growing conditions and grow happily with one another and add a lovely pop of color all around the vegetable garden.
Controversial Companion Planting
The jury is out on this one –
cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Brussels sprout
For many years it was recommended marigolds be planted next to members of the cabbage family to help ward off cabbage moths, but recent studies have thrown up a large questions mark around that pairing.
It’s now known that marigolds actually attract cabbage moths so interplanting with brassicas may actually make pest management more difficult.
With that said there are still gardeners who swear anecdotally that planting marigolds with cabbages will deter cabbage moths.
Request from our readers: Any gardeners reading this post, I would love to know your personal results in interplanting marigolds with your brassica crops. I’ve done it myself and I have felt that I had less of a problem with cabbage moths in my beds, but that could be due to any number of environmental reasons. Curious what everyone else thinks.
Create a healthy garden by planting companion plants
The key to companion planting is to understand your challenges before planting. You can see from this list how specific plants and plant combinations work well in the garden. But you do need to consider the “why” before you add a companion plant.
For example, there are some wonderful companion plants for tomatoes that you may consider first, like basil or nasturtiums. Next, you may want to choose the plant that will make your gardening season easier by preventing pests or make the tomatoes even tastier by planting basil.
Or you may have a problem with root-knot nematodes, so instead of using chemical solutions, you plant some marigolds. You see where I am going with this.
Companion planting is more complicated than simply adding in plants; you should consider the specific benefits for your garden before planting.
Are you looking for more Companion planting information?
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There are so many options for marigold companion plants that you could plant them all around the garden! But there is so much more information out there about companion planting.
if you’re interested in companion planting we have a few more posts that might interest you:
And if you really want to do a deep dive into companion planting, check out the book “Carrots Love Tomatoes” by Louise Riotte.
Marigolds (both the flowers and leaves) are considered safe to eat for humans.
The flower heads the signet marigold “Red Gem” is the best marigold for eating. It has a light citrus taste. The edible flowers make a lovely addition to salads, soups, and beverages. Although French and Mexican marigolds are edible, they have a strong pungent off taste and are not recommended.