After all your hard work growing your flowers, having them be eaten by pests can be quite demoralizing. While some flowers are more immune to pests than others, marigolds have their fair share of bugs that think of them as tasty treats.
What eats marigolds: No plant is safe in your garden, especially not marigolds. Insects such as grasshoppers can start eating your plants and slugs will steadily move towards them. While birds don’t actually eat marigolds, they can destroy the plants looking for food. Rabbits are also a fan of marigolds and can inadvertently trample other plants around them. Finally, what is eating your marigolds may in fact be a disease or bacteria, so be sure to watch for signs. Do your best to protect your garden by installing a fence and if you need to, use soapy water or neem oil to get rid of pests.
What Could Be Eating My Marigolds
Technically, birds don’t actually like to eat marigolds. There is no nutritional value in the flower or leaves for them. However, birds may indeed destroy your prized flowers.
This is because birds know that inside marigold plants could be lurking tasty insects. Birds, especially crows and blackbirds, will tear apart your flowers in the hopes that there are some insects to be found.
Adorable to look at, rabbits love to get into any garden and while you may think of them as only eating vegetables, there are many flowers that are edible for rabbits.
Depending on where you live, you can have quite the proliferation of rabbits in your area. Wild rabbits exist but many people dump their unwanted pets into nature, and these species will then breed and multiply.
Rabbits often feed in the early morning or towards twilight, when it is safest for them. They often trample other plants as they look for tasty vegetables and flowers to eat.
A common pest that enjoys munching on marigolds is the slug. However, slugs are nocturnal so it can be hard to spot them in action.
In the morning, look for traces of slug slime to identify this culprit. While they move slowly if given the chance they will quite steadily eat through your plants.
There are many types of insects that favor marigolds. Among them, grasshoppers are giant pests.
Grasshoppers come to life in the late summer and early fall, right when your marigolds are in full bloom. These insects will start eating a marigold plant and will quickly chew their way through its entirety.
If you have a grasshopper infestation, you will be able to see them as they pounce about your garden. You may also be able to hear a chirping noise from them as they rub their wings and hind legs together.
Bacteria and Diseases
Unfortunately, what may seem like pests chewing their way through your marigolds may indeed be a sign of disease. There are many types of bacteria and diseases that can take hold of your marigolds.
Look for signs of bacteria such as brown spots on the leaves or malformed plants. Verticillium wilt is a common fungal infection and if left untreated can infect the entire marigold plant, from the flowers to the roots.
How to Get Rid of Them?
If you find yourself with a pest or disease problem with your marigolds, there are ways to get your plants healthy again.
Step 1 – Identify the problem
The first step in almost any problem is to first determine what you are dealing with. There is a wide range of marigold pests and they all require different remedies.
Start by looking to determine if you can see the pest during the day, such as grasshoppers or spider mites. You may have to go outside at night with a flashlight to see if you are dealing with nocturnal pests such as slugs.
As for diseases, look for signs that your marigold is turning brown or is starting to wilt. This can be a sign the problem is on the inside of the plant.
Step 2 – Use your hands
Gardening is all about getting dirty, and this can involve pests. If you have a slug problem, start by removing them by hand. The same goes for other insects that are stuck on the leaves.
Step 3 – Build barriers
Now that you know what is eating your marigolds, it’s time to fortify your defenses. If it’s rabbits, place a wire fence around your garden.
Make sure the fence is high enough that the rabbits can’t jump over it. If the problem is slugs, build a barrier using broken eggshells to deter them.
Step 4 – Use natural remedies
As we mentioned earlier, slugs are usually deterred by broken eggshells, so try this step first. With other insects, you can spray marigolds with soapy water or neem oil, which is non-toxic.
Step 5 – Prepare for next year
If you simply can’t get a handle on your pests this year, plan for a better experience next year. Try spacing your plants out better so that there is more air circulation and less chance of pests coming in to stay.
You may need to dig up any plants that have fungus or bacteria in them and be sure you dispose of these in your garbage and not your compost.
What can I spray on my marigolds?
The best natural spray to use on marigolds is neem oil. Mix 1 ounce with 1 gallon of water and coat the plants liberally.
Repeat the process every seven days and watch for signs that your marigolds are staying pest and disease-free.
While it might be tempting to use a stronger insecticide, remember that there are terrible consequences with this. Pesticides can make other, beneficial, insects sick, such as bees. The wind can also carry pesticides to other areas of your garden, killing other plants.
With bright shades of orange and yellow, marigolds are a staple in your garden in late summer. There are plenty of pests, such as insects, rabbits, and even diseases, that may try to damage your flowers but with a bit of extra work, you can deter them.