Do Marigolds repel rabbits in vegetable beds?

linnea56(z5 IL)May 28, 2008

Is there any truth to the idea of ringing the vegetable garden with marigolds to keep out rabbits and other animals? I know they wonÂt eat the tomato plants but sometimes will taste one, or bite the ripe fruit. I have not planted beans in years because they all get eaten as soon as they emerge.

I canÂt use a fence: if itÂs tall enough to keep them out itÂs tall enough for me to trip over. After falling out of the garden (an 18" high raised bed) last year because I caught my foot in the top wire, I decided itÂs not worth the risk.

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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

No, mariglods will not deter rabbits. The flowers do a great job of attracting spidermites though.

There are two options to protect against rabbits:

Gun
Fence

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:27PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

You forgot dog and hawk.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:59PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Ha, ha. First 3 options are out. I would love to encourage the hawks if I knew how. For a few years the coyotes who moved into the area did a fine job on the bunnies, but they seem to have moved on. My cat worked her tail off too, but is no longer allowed outside after she picked up a parasite in the yard which caused a stroke. I tried the liquid fence too: fine as long as it didnÂt rain, then the rabbits must have come out the second it stopped.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:27PM
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HoosierCheroKee(IN6)

No, marigolds will not deter rabbits but will harbor thrips that vector tomato spot wilt virus.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:29PM
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lightt(6/7 Northern VA)

Linnea,
Border collies work fantastically but (sadly) they only last 12-13 years...

Terry Light
Oak Hill, Virginia

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:53PM
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rexx(CA 10)

If they attract thrips and spider mites, why do so many people like to plant them in tomato beds?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:59PM
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piotr01

rexx, good question ,i would like to know the answer to this aswell. I just planted some in my beds with the assumption that they would help ward off bugs.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:13PM
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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

Yes dogs work well but only when they are outside and free to chase. And you need your dog never to take naps as rabbits feed mostly in early morning and early evening. Never take your dog to the vet either. If the dog isn't on partol even for an hour the plants are gone. What I am saying is that a dog is great but not 100%.

More on mariglods... every garden I have ever visited near me that had marigolds growing in full sun had spidermites without exception. Maybe my area is prone to this situation. I have no idea. But I stopped growing them years ago.

linnea, I wish I had a magic solution for you but a fence is 100%. Perhaps a fence with a secure gate?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:36PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I was starting to think that the tomato forum has some flower haters on it!

I have never had spider mites on any outdoor plants. I do occasionally get them on indoor plants. Oddly enough, most often on plants I grow on my deck and bring inside to overwinter, usually right before it is time to put them out again. A short time outside and they are "cured". Maybe itÂs the chilly Midwest nights. Ditto whitefly, which I got on the dahlias I stared inside this year. Shortly after the dahlias were put outside to harden off the whiteflies were gone.

I had some idea that the scent of marigold leaves was supposed to repel something. Maybe it was bugs, not rabbits. IÂm sure IÂve seen them planted in vegetable gardens; I think even in the local Botanical garden. Just an old wives tale? Though in actually I donÂt like marigolds too much (donÂt like any flower in a mustard-y color). In the vegetable garden I wouldnÂt mind them because they would not clash with anything else. Maybe I just needed an excuse to buy a few more flowersÂ

IÂd still use them but now IÂm worried about thrips!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 12:04AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

AH-HAH! The marigolds win! Check out this scientific article proving their benefits!

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T6M-48CX1T2-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0amp;_userid=10&md5=85a13ff31e563ec87a28ed450ffe6699

Then google "marigold tomato" and see what else you find. In addition to the article above which proves than to have an inhibitory effect on blight, apparently they play host to beneficial insects that prey on pests that can harm tomatoes.

IÂm going ahead and planting them tomorrow; though I still donÂt know what to do about the rabbits.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 12:31AM
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aninocentangel

I planted marigolds to help with the root nematodes that are rife in my area. Seems to be working well for me. I did have some spider mites earlier this year, but they only lasted a couple of days before disappearing. I noticed the ladybugs arrived around the same time the mites (and aphids) "left", coincidence? I hope not.
I don't have a problem with rabbits, the neighbors have three very noisy dogs that seemed to scare off everything save for squirrels, rats and possums, and since I got my dog all of the wild mammals except the squirrels have left. I think to get the squirrels to leave we'll have to convince the other neighbors to stop feeding them. If you know someone with a dog that sheds a lot, you might ask them for some of the hair and see if incorporating it into the mulch along the edge or distributing it around the paths helps deter them.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 3:40AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Marigolds are planted near tomatoes b'c initial observations showed that they could possibly serve two functions.

One, is that they do secrete a weak nematocide that has shown some activity against pathogenic root knot nematodes and second b'c they serve as a trap crop for those same nematodes. That means that nematodes infect them but can't complete their life cycle in the marigolds so are eliminated.

But two problems.

First, one has to use the Tagetes type marigolds, not just any marigolds and second it's become quite clear that one just can't plant a few Tagetes marigolds here and there, rather, they have to be planted as a dense cover crop and then tilled under. And that takes the growing area out of use for a whole season.

Ebon rye is another cover crop that has shown weak activity.

If RK nematodes are the problem it's best to amend the soil with lots of organic material b'c those nematodes, where present, can multiply to high numbers in warm sandy soil where temps don't freeze.

Adding the organic material makes the sand grains be further apart and that helps b'c the nematodes move from sand grain to sand grain via the water shell that surrounds each grain and that's how they build up to high destructive populations.

So RKN's are not a possible problem in the US except from maybe GA down to Fl, along the Gulf coast up into CA.

I love flowers, both annuals and perennials, but I sure wouldn't plant Tagetes, aka French, short, marigolds just to deter RKN's if they were a problem in my area, which they aren't. I'd work more with improving the soil as a longer term possible solution. Or as a last resort, growing my tomatoes in containers.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 4:45AM
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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

There are many different types of mites. I am talking the warm weather type (two spotted) and not the cool weather (spruce) type. I have read your link and it is a lone wolf. All the other links on Google page 1 support my reference that mites do indeed love marigolds in warm weather. The warmer the weather the faster they breed. They are a major problem where I garden. Back in my old chem days I tried various miticides (Isotox, Kelthane), water blasts, soaps, oils, etc and nothing worked. I went totally organic about 13 years ago and now I am nearly mite free because I release green lacewings into my garden in early June every year.

Anyway, keep an eye out on those marigold's...:)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 8:14AM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Yeah bigdaddyj.........a native flower protects a semi-native vegetable......ya think! Besides it seemed to be used to affect the humidity that caused the problem with blight.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 8:38AM
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oldroser(z5)

I've used floating row cover to deter rabbits with some success. Last year, when they ate my pole beans down to stumps, I replanted and wrapped the bottom of the teepee with row cover (secured it to the poles with clothes pins). The beans grew up and escaped and the rabbits were baffled. This year I have a checken wire fence so I can grow bush beans too.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:47AM
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farkee(Florida)

linnea, wow that is some link. Could that be true? WOnder how many marigolds you would have to put under each plant to deter conidia production and create that microclimate. Seems unbelieveable.

I was just going to write that planting marigolds to repel pests has been proven ineffectual though many books and magazines still promote the practice. Even Organic Gardening magazine says it doesn't work.

They are supposed to attract spider mites. Didn't know they attracted thrips--that alone would put them in my NEVER GROW list as I have had TSWV in previous years.

I did grow the special nematicidal marigold as a cover crop in a few areas. They are like a huge dense shrub--nothing like the little plants at the nursery. I couldn't really dig them in those areas as you are supposed to so I really can't say if they deterred nematodes or not.

I 'guess' you could plant one of these big marigold 'bushes' and then just press it over and plant a tomato right in the living mulch of the marigold. Just pray for no thrips. Because TSWV is much worse than early blight.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:38PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

What is TSWV?

I have not had nematodes so far. Maybe they are not prevalent in my area. I have not had any insect problems either, when I have grown marigolds elsewhere in my garden. (Though I donÂt like them, my daughter does: when she has gone to the nursery with me she picks what she wants.). Japanese beetles on my roses, yes. Are marigolds a thrip magnet just under certain conditions? Or in conjuction with tomatoes?

I still need to find a plant that rabbits HATE! (I need my revengeÂ).

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:01PM
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farkee(Florida)

TSWV = tomato spotted wilt virus

Nasty virus vectored by thrips.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:14PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I have not had nematodes so far

*****

And you won't, not the pathogenic ones anyway. As I said above they prefer sandy warm soils and will be found where the ground doesn't freeze/

The RKN's I'm speaking of here are also called the southern ones, and there are some northern ones but rarely, and I mean rarely, have they been IDed as being a problem. I think I can remember only one person in the past 20 years who had the northern ones IDed as being a problem.

So we zone 5 ers such as yourself, don't have RKN's to worry about.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 7:59AM
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tamik(z5 IL)

I work at a greenhouse and am ask this question frequently. Marigolds will not deter rabbits, my co worker actually seen rabbits eating her marigolds. Now maybe they do deter certain insects but not bunnies. I have had a bad problem with rabbits at my house too. Almost gave up on growing peas and beans because of them. I have a fence around my garden and that keeps the big ones out but the babies can squeeze through. I also have a large dog but honestly shes getting lazy in her older years. So last year my bosses son gave me some castor bean plants. Swore they help keep away critters. I put a couple in the garden and i have to say i didn't have a bunny problem. Now i don't know if it was the castor beans or not but i have planted some in my garden this year too. I am aware they are poisonous so obviously you would want to keep children and small animals away. Which is not a problem since my garden is fenced in. Im curious to see if bunnies are a problem this year. So far so good. But my beans and peas are just starting to sprout so we shall see. Tami K

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 11:31AM
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cindy_7

A good cat will take care of the rabbit problem.

Cindy

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 1:39PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

My vegetable garden is too small for castor beans, but I love the way they look. I hope to get some in the future for their ornamental value. I have some perennials like lilies that are consistently attacked by rabbits, so will keep that in mind for a companion planting.

My cat did her best in previous years, but I only let her out when she could be supervised. Too many big dogs around, plus the occasional coyote at night. Last year she picked up a parasite in the yard (too long a story to detail here), and suffered a stroke and brain damage as a result. I thought she was safe if only allowed out with me: I was thinking only of predators. I didnÂt know about these parasites then. My little former gardening buddy is on 2 x a day anti-seizure medication. So even if I get a new cat, she/he will not be allowed out in the future. The pet is more valuable than the rabbit-chaser.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 2:06PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Re: "And you won't, not the pathogenic ones anyway. As I said above they prefer sandy warm soils and will be found where the ground doesn't freeze/

The RKN's I'm speaking of here are also called the southern ones, and there are some northern ones but rarely, and I mean rarely, have they been IDed as being a problem. I think I can remember only one person in the past 20 years who had the northern ones IDed as being a problem.

So we zone 5 ers such as yourself, don't have RKN's to worry about."

Yes, there are benefits to winter! On a trip to Mexico last winter my teen daughter had been complaining all the way down about how terribly cold the Midwest was, how she hated winter, etc., how much better it must be to live at all points south. Then she saw some insects of frightening dimensions, and said, "I didnÂt know they could get that big! IÂm glad we donÂt have those!" Where upon I said, "And you know why, right?" Point madeÂ

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 4:16PM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

Don't forget Elmer Fudd.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 2:09PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

bigdaddyj More on mariglods... every garden I have ever visited near me that had marigolds growing in full sun had spidermites without exception. Maybe my area is prone to this situation. I have no idea. But I stopped growing them years ago.

How very odd. I've grown marigolds in full sun for years and have never had that problem. I have found that rose chaffers really enjoy them, however.

Course one possible issue with the 'dog solution' is if said dog crashes through said plants............

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 6:16PM
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treeinnj(6)

I'm in NW NJ (aka "tomato capital"), and only grow tomatos for the family - 1 or 2 plants a year.

Anyway, I've always used marigolds b/c that's what everyone around here said to do. I think it was b/c the marigolds attract the ladybugs, which eat the aphids. I've see lots of aphids, and no spidermites.

Our marigolds grow beautifully here w/o any spidermite probs.

Then again, our tomatoes don't enjoy completely full sun b/c of our location, so the marigolds don't get completely full sun either. Maybe the region (NW NJ) combined w/a couple hours less than full sun has something to do w/ why marigolds "work" for us well w/toms here in NJ ??

All the Best, Tree (who usually hangs out in Soil Forum, but lurks around the others to see what everyone's up to :)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 9:18PM
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vera_eastern_wa(5a-5b)

Wow..that's a first I've ever heard of Marigold attracting spider mites and thrips.
I grow Marigold tagetes (short and tall types) in my beds in hot full sun and have never had either infested with either pest. Our summers are hot and dry too with low humidity.
I've pulled off some thrip infested Brandywine leaves today though but are not near Marigold, but Calendula this year in a new bed.
In the other bed where I have both Marigold and Tomatoes plus Calendula the tomato plants have no thrips...have never had them. However this bed is also surrounded by lots of flowering perennials and annuals that attract a ton of beneficials to the area.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 4:29AM
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jwhooper

Cindy is right. Get a cat that likes to hunt.

We live in a "no fencing" subdivision, and rabbits killed hundreds of dollars of plants in my yard over and over, often the first morning after I planted them.

One cat stopped all that, as well as ridding us of chipmunks, skunk visits, and most of our squirrels. We let her have a couple of litters and kept Big Red, our current patrol cat.

He sleeps inside during the day, but goes out at dusk and stays out all night. Mama Cat retired to a neighbors house. Better food I guess.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 10:40AM
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james-in-lapine

My cat hates clay kitty litter so I have to use the pumice dirt we have here. I started dumping the cat box NEAR the back garden. Haven't made it all the way around it yet and plan to put in turkey wire on 3 sides. Rabbit and squirrel tracks are never where I have dumped the used dirt.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 11:22AM
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timmadler_yahoo_com

I just finished my owl house - a bird house for screech owls. They will populate in suburban areas, but generally cannot find the habitat. I'll keep you posted.

Revenge will be so sweet...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 5:27PM
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racingwillie

I have used Cayenne pepper to keep rabbits off my beans when they first come up. Just sprinkle it on when they just come up and after rains. After the plants are established, the rabbits seem to leave them alone. Just be sure to wash your hands afterwards before touching sensitive areas on your self. Eyes, nose and points South. I have also used dried blood as a deterent.
Bill

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 7:32PM
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