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Marigolds As a Pest Control

By Kimberly Sharpe ; Updated September 21, 2017
Marigolds have been a successful pest repellent for centuries.
marigold image by ril from Fotolia.com

Marigolds grow approximately 6 inches tall in a mounded shape. They are considered a tender annual with a strong susceptibility to cold. Flowers appear in yellow, red, orange, maroon and cream depending on the variety. The foliage is fine and feather-like in appearance. Marigolds require very little care once planted. They have been used in the garden as a successful pest repellent for centuries.

Marigold Smell

Marigolds keep white flies away from tomatoes.
tomato vine image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com

The smell of the marigold flower is quite pungent. It is believed that the strong smell often confuses flying insects, which aids in repelling pests. Marigolds are commonly planted beneath tomato plants and bell peppers to repel white flies. The smell also seems to repel carrot flies, which often attack garden carrots.

Beans, Cucumbers and Marigolds

Marigolds are often planted between the rows of a variety of beans to ward off beetles and spider mites. Planted at the base of trellised cucumbers, marigolds protects them from numerous pest infestations.

Mexican Marigolds

Rabbits do not like the smell of Mexican marigolds.
a wild rabbit image by Tom Oliveira from Fotolia.com

Mexican marigolds are believed to have an even stronger and more pungent smell than other marigold varieties. It is a common practice to ring the entire garden in Mexican marigolds to help drive off foraging rabbits who do not like the smell.

Marigolds and Nematodes

Nematodes are unsegmented roundworms that readily consume the roots of vegetables and plants. Marigold roots release a substance called alpha-terthienyl. This chemical damages and repels nematodes. The University of Florida IFAS Extension suggests spacing marigolds every 7 inches for nematode control. Marigolds must be planted before the vegetable crops to have an effect. It is suggested that marigolds be planted two months before the vegetable crops to offer adequate nematode control.

Hybrids and Smell

Many marigold hybrids have been cultivated without the smell. These hybrids offer no pest-repellent abilities and should be avoided. They were designed because many gardeners have found the smell of marigolds offensive.


About the Author


Based in Oregon, Kimberly Sharpe has been a writer since 2006. She writes for numerous online publications. Her writing has a strong focus on home improvement, gardening, parenting, pets and travel. She has traveled extensively to such places as India and Sri Lanka to widen and enhance her writing and knowledge base.