Marigolds and Tomato Plants Together From Master Gardener David Wall

March 31, 2024 – Growing marigolds with your tomato plants is one of the best ways to keep tomatoes happy, healthy, and productive. Marigolds are considered to be one of the best companion plants for many vegetables, but especially for tomato plants. Unlike other annuals, marigolds stay with you under the lousiest of conditions, including drought, bright sunlight, and strong winds without damage while they deter many of tomato plants’ worst enemies.

While providing protection from damaging insects, they also repel animals, as deer, rabbits and squirrels that don’t care for the taste or smell. On top of this, they attract beneficial pollinator insects to your garden, including butterflies, wasps, honeybees, and bumblebees. Insects which lay eggs that produce the tomato hornworm don’t care for the marigold smell. For those few who lay eggs, paper wasps lay eggs on the hornworms which kill them before they can consume both the plant and its fruit.

Marigolds also attract ladybugs and lacewings which consume aphids and whiteflies before they damage or kill tomato, cucumber and other vegetable plants. Also, mosquitos don’t like the marigold smell!

Marigolds produce a compound that kills root-knot nematodes in the soil. For me, this is a biggie, because I’ve had root-knot nematodes kill tomato plants by mid-summer.

Marigolds grow easily from seed, but since they are so inexpensive at nurseries, why bother. Just transplant them in the ground. They grow fast and do well in most soils. There are numerous varieties, and most provide varying levels of protection. The best variety, however, are French marigolds.

A somewhat preferred method is to plant marigolds along the garden edge. In raised beds, this may not be practical. Planting them among tomato plants works just fine. Due to the needed spacing between tomato plants, there is plenty of room to put marigolds between plants.

Author: Matt Janson

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