Marigolds are a member of the aster family (asteraceae.) There are about 30 varieties of marigolds in the family. Marigolds come in shades of yellow-orange and red and can brighten up any garden space. Marigolds are not only pretty to look at but are effective in attracting beneficial insects that help keep your garden healthy. Some of the best varieties for attracting beneficial bugs are lemon gem marigolds, African marigolds and French marigolds. Each variety attracts different beneficial insects and are effective in keeping animal pests away as well.
Types of Beneficial Insects - There are three types of beneficial insects that are attracted to your marigolds. Pollinators help in the fertilisation of the plant and include insects such as bees. Predator insects feed on the pests that damage your plants. A few examples of predator insects are soldier bugs, hoverflies and ladybirds. Braconid wasps lay their eggs in pest insects; when the larvae hatch, they eat the pest insect.
Lemon Gem Marigolds (Tagetes Tenuifolia) - Lemon gem marigolds have lemon-yellow flowers which bloom from late spring into fall. Lemon gem marigolds attract a whole horde of beneficial insects to your garden. They attract beneficial insects like ladybirds, minute pirate bugs, damsel bugs, big eyed bugs, parasitic wasps and hoverflies. These insects keep pests like aphids and hornworms off your plants.
African Marigolds (Tagetes Erecta) - African marigolds are also known as Aztec marigolds because they originate from South America. They grow up to 3 feet tall with yellow to orange pom-pom type flower heads. The strong odour keeps nematodes away and attracts insects like lacewings which prey on aphids and mites. African marigolds are also deer and rabbit resistant. Often, the strong odour of the African marigold will keep animal pests away from the other plants in your garden.
French Marigolds (Tagetes Patula) - French marigolds grow up to 16 inches tall and have carnation-like flowers. French marigolds repel aphids, nematodes, cabbage moths, flea beetles, Colorado potato beetles and white flies. The single-flower varieties are better at repelling pest insects than the double-flower varieties because the single flowers have more pollen and nectar to attract beneficial insects like hoverflies.