growing marigolds and nasturtiums

Growing marigolds and nasturtiums in your vegetable garden – essential for any organic garden

Growing marigolds and nasturtiums in your vegetable garden helps control insects, adds beauty and is a tasty and healthy addition to your dinner plate.

I have used them in my food gardens for many years. Both plants are  prolific seeders once their long flowering period finishes and I have noticed to my delight that as they re-seed, some different flower colours begin to appear. 

Insect impact

Leaf flower and fruit eaters – The pungent smell of marigold flower and leaf discourages aphids from hanging around to feast on nearby crops. Nasturtiums repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many beetles and cabbage loopers. Nasturtiums are ideal companion for tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, cabbage and radishes. Favourite crops of those pesky insects.

Root eaters – Marigolds are particularly helpful in minimising the attack of harmful nematodes that cause bumps on your plant roots and reduce plant vitality. A past blog of mine talks about other tactics in dealing with nematodes.

Pollinators – The flowers of marigold and nasturtium attract bees to your garden, essential where you are growing crops that need pollinators such as cucumber, zuccini, capsicium and squash. 

Adding to your meal

Marigold flowers and leaves can be eaten. They have strong flavour and are rather bitter. I feel its best to mix them with other plants. Here are the health benefits of eating marigolds. 

The only part of the nasturtiums you can’t eat are the roots. The flowers have a delicate and spicy flavour with red flowers the hottest and pink flowers the least spicy. Flowers can be used in salads as can the leaves. I always pick a leaf or flower to taste when I am in the garden. The seeds can be pickled and are called capers. You can read about the health benefits of eating nasturtiums here.

Beauty and design

There is no doubt that having flowers in your garden impacts the feeling you have when walking around the space. I feel that flowers speak much faster to the soul because of their beauty. By growing marigolds and nasturtiums, you can also create form in the garden by placing the flowers in certain positions, for example, I tend to put them at the end of my beds to create an edge.

My Food Garden

How to grow

Growing marigolds and nasturtiums is quite easy. They are very hardy plants, In my sub-tropical climate they grow over long periods of time during the year. Soil should be reasonable with growing marigolds and nasturtiums  and I think its best to provide them similar soil to what you provide for your vegetables. Here is a past article of vegetable garden soil. If you water them too much, you will get a lot more leaf than flower.

Marigolds grow as a bush, making them easy to control, whereas nasturtiums are more of a creeper and can take over a space if you let them.

For Brisbane gardeners living on the north west side of the city, we have just released an organic garden maintenance service, check it out here. Its specifically designed for people who love the beauty and function of an organic garden but do not have the time or expertise to look after it. 

Also check out our workshop schedule as we have a number of workshops in the coming weeks, with spaces still available. Love to see you at one of them.

Authored by Peter Kearney –

Posted in biodynamic gardening, Mentoring, urban agriculture, urban farming, vegetable gardening and tagged , , , , .


  1. It should be noted that of the two species of marigold, only the calendula (‘pot’) varieties should be eaten. The tagetes (‘French’) varieties can be quite poisonous. But they both work well for insect and animal control in the garden.

  2. It should be noted that of the two species of marigold, only the calendula (‘pot’) varieties should be eaten. The tagetes (‘French’) varieties can be quite poisonous. But they both work well for insect and animal control in the garden.

  3. Could you please comment on growing marigolds and nasturtiums in autumn in north east Victoria? Temperatures are already down to 1 degree in the mornings.

    • They could be a bit tricky in your climate at that time of the year. Have you succeeded in keeping them alive in the colder times in the past or do you know any local gardeners who have done so?

  4. I found that adding Cosmos with these two seeds works wonderfully in protecting plants in your garden; additionally, you get beautiful colors with the mix! Also, my plants get water and are doing GREAT here in OH in the humidity and hot temps we are getting almost daily. I have not separated the watering from the regular veggie garden… but it has deterred flowering a bit.

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