Garden Advice: Marigold Myths

Tagetes_Marigold_DBG_LAH_7897It sounds too good to be true. Not only are marigolds pretty, but growing in your vegetable garden will protect your harvest from nematodes, beetles, hornworms, whiteflies, squash bugs, thrips, hornworms, and even rabbits. I know it must be so, because I read it on the internet:

  • “French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well.”
  • “Annual Marigolds can be used anywhere to deter Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, thrips, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies. They are also known to repel harmful root knot nematodes (soil dwelling microscopic white worms) that attack tomatoes, potatoes, roses, and strawberries.”
  • “Marigolds also repel pests, including beetles and nematodes.”

Gee, if it’s that easy, why not? Marigolds are easy to start from seed, grow quickly, thrive almost anywhere, and produce tons of sunny yellow and orange blooms all summer long.

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Mosquito Repellant Plants? Caveat Emptor

mosquitoI sometimes wonder why God made mosquitoes. They’re so… annoying! No one enjoys getting bitten. It’s more than just the never-ending itch—they carry some very nasty diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and chikungunya. Even here in the U.S. we’re at risk of West Nile, dengue, viral encephalitis, and now zika.

Lavendula - Lavender @DianeBrunjes-GlenEagle 22july05 LAH 003rMy Facebook feed is suddenly overflowing with lists of plants that supposedly repel mosquitoes. Just plant these flowers and herbs and your yard will be pest-free! Or, as one post on Pintrest claimed, “Plant a Mosquito Control container so you can sit and unwind in the evenings.” Unfortunately, anything that simple raises a red flag for me. Can controlling mosquitoes really be as easy as planting marigolds and lavender? It took some research to get past the hype, but I eventually found some scientific studies that look at this question.

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