Can You Plant Marigolds With Garden Grown Tomatoes?

Considering adding some marigolds to your tomato garden this season? Wondering if it's even a good idea, and what benefits there are? In this article, gardening expert Natalie Leiker walks through if planting marigolds with tomatoes is a good idea, and how to do it properly if you decide to plant them together!

marigolds and tomatoes

Marigolds are a very popular flower and are often sought after because of their low maintenance and heat-loving characteristics. They also offer some beneficial characteristics when planted with other garden grown plants. But will they provide any benefits being companion planted with your garden tomatoes? Are these two even compatible?

Marigolds are bright, sun-loving, heat tolerant flowers. Their benefits of being a companion plant are long documented as proven science. They are most popularly added by vegetable gardeners into raised beds in order to act as a pest repellent.

Most of us have seen marigold seeds or transplants at our local nursery or garden centers throughout the growing season. These low maintenance, vivid flowers sound like a great addition to a full sun vegetable garden. So should you buy some to plant next to the tomatoes you are growing in your vegetable garden? Let’s find out!

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, marigolds can be planted with tomatoes. They both grow best in full sun, have similar watering requirements, and are heat tolerant. If planted in a space where both plants have enough room to thrive, tomatoes and marigolds make great companions. Marigolds can also offer science backed benefits of helping to repel certain tomato pests.

About Marigolds

Red and Orange Flowers
Marigolds are unpretentious, charmingly decorative, and very easy to grow flowers.

Marigolds are annual flowers that are very popular amongst home gardeners. The most common types of marigolds are French and African marigolds. They grow in USDA zones 3 – 11. They grow best in warm climates and prefer full sun (6 – 8 hours sunlight daily).

The flowers range in vivid shades of yellow, to orange, and red. Adding this pop of color is just one of many reasons so many people plant marigolds in their gardens and landscapes.

There are two types of marigolds we commonly see: French and African marigolds

French marigolds are more readily available than African marigolds. They flower in shades of orange, yellow, and red and have a small, tidy growing habit, which make them a perfect plant to add to any landscape or garden border.

African marigolds have spherical ruffled flowers that are generally larger than that of the French marigold. These flowers are usually orange or yellow. The African marigold tends to grow a little taller than the French marigold and has a shorter blooming period.

While marigolds are very attractive with their vividly striking blooms, they have many more positive attributes. They are heat and drought tolerant, attract pollinators, and can even deter harmful insects and pests from your garden.

The Long Answer: Marigolds and Tomatoes

Tomatoes Growing in Garden
Marigolds are able to repel pests such as cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, and nematodes, as well as attract pollinators.

Marigolds and tomatoes make great companion plants for many reasons. The two plants have almost identical growing requirements: full sun, heat tolerant, and do best in well-draining rich soil. But these are just a few reasons these two go great together.

When planted together, they actually have a symbiotic relationship. This means that not only will these plants survive together, they will benefit from each other.

Benefits of Marigolds
  • Marigold flowers attract bees, and other insects that can pollinate flowers.
  • These pollinators can help pollinate tomato plants ensuring fruit production.
  • Marigolds contain Pyrethrum which helps repel harmful pests.
  • They can deter cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, and nematodes.
  • The roots of marigolds contain a compound called alpha-terthienyl.
  • This is is toxic to nematodes that are found in soil.
  • This compound can prevent these them from attacking your tomato’s root system.

Planting Them Together

Companion planting with Tomatoes and Marigolds
When planted together, keep a distance of 10-12 inches from each other.

Marigolds and tomatoes are both full sun plants, this means that you must plant in a location that receives 6 – 8 hours of sunlight daily.

If you are planting the marigolds around or in between your already tomato plants, plant them 10 – 12 inches away from the tomato plants. This will ensure they both have enough room to grow, but close enough for the tomato to reap all the benefits of the marigold plant.

Marigolds work great as border plants and can act as a barrier to your vegetable garden. If you are thinking of using marigolds as a border around your tomatoes and other vegetable plants, spacing is key. Plant the marigold border 10-12 inches away from the vegetable/tomato plants. Space the marigolds 10 – 12 inches apart as well.

Planting Together in Containers

Tomatoes Planted Near Flowers in Pot
You can also pair these two plants in a container, but give your tomatoes room to grow.

Container gardening is very popular amongst many home gardeners. Thinking of adding marigolds to a pot, container, or small raised bed near your tomatoes?

The same spacing rule applies. Make sure you give your tomato plants enough room to grow – a container for a tomato plant must be at least 5 gallons.

This means that if you would like to add marigolds in the same container, it would need to be larger than 5 gallons, and wide enough to space your tomato and marigold 12 inches apart.

An alternative to placing them in the same container would be to simply have each plant in a separate container, but set them near each other. This would allow the tomato to still benefit from the marigold, but allow them enough room to grow.

Marigold Alternatives

If you’re looking to add color or texture to your garden, but you want something other than marigolds, there’s plenty of options out there! While these alternatives may not provide the exact same benefits to your tomato plants that Marigolds do, they do offer some symbiotic benefit when planted together.

Calendula

Calendula officinalis
Calendula tolerates poor soils well, and will grow well in any garden soil.
Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis
  • Plant Type: Flowering annual
  • Plant size: 8 – 10 inches
  • Sun exposure: Full sun

Calendula, also known as scotch or pot marigold, is a full sun, heat tolerant, vivid flower. It grows around 8 – 10 inches tall with a similar shape and size to that of a French or African marigold. Calendula makes a great addition to any veggie garden or container and is known for its medicinal purposes.

Alyssum

Lobularia maritima
Alyssum blooms with gorgeous white and purple flowers that attract pollinators with their sweet scent.
Scientific name: Lobularia maritima
  • Plant Type: Flowering annual
  • Plant Size: 6 – 10 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Alyssum, often referred to as sweet alyssum, is a compact growing plant that blooms in shades of purple and white. These small clusters of flowers attract many pollinators and have a sweet, floral aroma, hence the nickname sweet alyssum.

Zinnias

Zinnia elegans
Zinnias is a drought-resistant annual that blooms in a variety of colors and attracts pollinators.
Scientific name: Zinnia elegans
  • Plant Type: Flowering annual
  • Plant Size: 8 – 36 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

There are so many varieties of zinnias. They range anywhere from 8 inches to 36 inches in height depending on the variety. You can also find zinnias in almost every color you can think of – purple, pink, red, yellow, orange, the list goes on. This heat loving drought tolerant annual will bloom all season and attract a wide variety of pollinators.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium
Nasturtium is a heat-loving flower, that prefers nutritious soils.
Scientific Name: Nasturtium
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Plant Size: 10 – 24 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

There are a few types of nasturtium, all varieties bloom in warmer colors such as gold, orange, and red. Nasturtium does great in warm climates and will add a touch of color to your garden throughout the season.

Its growing habit is fairly compact, however, if you allow it to reseed in your garden, it will begin to spread. Nasturtium makes a great addition to any full sun veggie garden and suits the theme as the entire nasturtium plant is edible!

Anise Hyssop

Agastache foeniculum
Anise Hyssop prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade.
Scientific Name: Agastache foeniculum
  • Plant Type: Annual
  • Plant Size: 12 – 24 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

There are many varieties and colors of hyssop available. This plant loves the warmer weather and will bloom all season. Hyssop is a very fragrant plant and will attract all kinds of pollinators. It even possesses medicinal qualities.

Ageratum

Ageratum
Ageratum is a heat-loving and pollinator-attracting flowering plant that will look great in any part of the garden.
Scientific name: Ageratum
  • Plant Type: Flowering annual
  • Plant Size: 10 – 24 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Ageratum is a sun-loving, heat tolerant annual that can add a unique texture to your borders or garden. It blooms in small fuzzy clusters that bees can’t resist. While it is only found in shades of blue and white, this plant is not to be overlooked. It is very low maintenance and can be a great addition to a full sun veggie garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter which type of marigolds I plant?

While both the French and African marigold are compatible plants with tomatoes, it is said that French marigolds tend to have a stronger pest repellent effect. There are slightly different maintenance requirements for French Marigolds, so make sure you understand the difference between marigold types.

Will marigolds keep deer and rabbit away from tomatoes?

It is said that deer and rabbits will not munch on marigolds, however this does not mean marigolds will stop them from finding their way to your tomatoes. While it can be a powerful insect repellent, it’s not a known rabbit or deer deterrent.

Final Thoughts

Marigolds and tomatoes can be planted together, and you and your plants could benefit from it! Marigolds have many beneficial characteristics for the garden and can even help repel insects and other pests from harming your tomato plants. So, next time you are at your local garden center, don’t hesitate to grab a few of these popular plants, and stick them right next to the veggies in your garden!

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