Marigolds, Myths, and Mites

LB_GardenerJune 24, 2011

I don't know if anyone else has heard that marigolds are a natural way to repel insects from your tomato plants, but let me say that it is patently false.

As an experiment, I decided to plant some marigolds around my tomato plants to see if they would repel pests. Two weeks after planting, clover mites started showing up on my plants, and the common denominator was that they were on leaves that were guessed it.....a marigold flower. I inspected the flowers, and at least one on each plant had a colony of mites and eggs under the petals near the base of the flower.

Now it may be that they repel some pests, but the only bugs on my plants before the flowers made it into the mix were fungus gnats. So I'd rather just have the fungus gnats than both.

Many of you probably know this already and can sit back and chuckle at my noob enthusiasm, but for those of you thinking about planting marigolds to repel pests; don't waste your time.

Happy gardening,


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Clover mites are probably the most harmless mite, I am not sure you should even worry about them. Two separate nurseries told me that clover mites will eat spider mite eggs, and something has been! Clover mites were all over my garden during late spring and I did not notice any damage to the plants, they were mostly on the tops of leaves scurrying around or on the terracotta pots. They are very fast moving and I have not noticed them eating plants yet.

As for the marigolds, I did the same experiment this spring and planted marigolds throughout my garden. At this point they are hosting more of the harmful insects than anything else. I only keep them to attract pollinating insects and give the white flies something to eat besides my tomatoes.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 2:42AM
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Good to know Phildeez. Thanks for the info.

I do love the way that the marigolds look in the garden. They really add a lot to the aesthetics. I guess I'm kind of persnickity about bugs on my plants, but I've never had to deal with mites yet and I must admit that it freaked me out.

More than anything, I just wanted to throw it out there that marigolds do not in fact repel pests. I guess I'm too paraniod now to leave them so close to my tomatoes, but I might re-plant them elsewhere for aesthetics.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 3:04AM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

I love love love marigolds, and they do repel many pests, but they ATTRACT mites, not repel them. A strong spray of water now and then should keep them in check.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 10:11AM
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I beautified my garden one year by planting zinnias and marigolds next to the tomato patch- one year only!! I ended up having to pick a dozen horn worms off the tomatoes THREE times a day!
Never again!! Mercy!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 3:08PM
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Marigolds DO attract mites. Plenty of research on the net supporting this. My personal experience confirms it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 4:55PM
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