Do Bees Like Marigolds? Best Plants to Attract Bees

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A bee collecting nectar from a vibrant orange marigold flower.

As the greatest pollinators in the world, bees play a crucial role in ecosystems around the globe. Without bees, we wouldn’t have a planet enriched with fragrant flowers and edible plants. That being the case, ensuring safe, attractive environments for bees to collect nectar and pollen is essential.

A good way to attract certain pollinators to your outdoor space is to plant and grow flowers with attractive colors and powerful aromas. Marigolds, with their vibrant sunshine colors and open petals, would seem like a good choice.

But do bees like marigolds? 

In today’s article, we’ll address the relationship between marigolds and certain types of pollinators, including butterflies, hummingbirds and – of course – bees. We’ll also discuss the best bee-attracting varieties of marigolds and other plants that bees can’t resist! To top it all off, we’ll reveal how you can plant and grow these stunning yellow-orange companion plants.

So, Do Honey Bees Like Marigolds?

You may have noticed that, in our introduction, we emphasized that marigolds are great flowers for certain types of bees. Although there are varieties of marigolds that can effectively attract pollinators, it is worth noting that these yellow flowers aren’t appealing to every species of bee.

So, that being the case, do honey bees like marigolds?

Honey bees, like bumblebees, are known as generalist pollinators, meaning that these bees will visit a variety of flowers for nectar and pollen. Therefore, it also means that these types of bees generally aren’t too picky about what flowers they visit. So, how does this factor into the relationship between marigolds and honey bees?

While marigolds produce rich nectar, they aren’t considered one of the top nectar-producing plants for honey bees. So, it’s safe to say that marigolds won’t always be a bee’s first flower choice.

However, if you like using marigolds to attract honey bees, particular varieties of marigolds are more attractive to bees than others. Ultimately, a marigold’s attractiveness largely depends on its variety, nectar and pollen content, and how many alternative nectar sources are in the area.

We’ll explore some of these varieties and whether marigolds attract other pollinators too?.

Honeybee delicately balances, harvesting golden honey from beehive edge.

Do Bees and Butterflies Like Marigolds?

So, do bees and butterflies like marigolds?’.

We know that certain types of bees like particular varieties of marigolds. However, that may not be enough to determine if marigolds would be a suitable addition to your pollinator garden. As a result, it’s worth considering the dynamic between marigolds and other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds.

To start with, butterflies have a powerful attraction to marigolds. A marigold’s signature bright colors and powerful fragrance attract many butterflies, including Red Admirals and Ocula Skippers. Overall, it’s safe to say that by planting marigolds, your garden will see a wealth of charming butterflies!

Hummingbirds, on the other hand, tend not to seek out marigolds because of their less-than-ideal nectar content. Instead, if you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden, it’s worth noting that hummingbirds have a particular fondness for sweet honeysuckle.

To sum up, there are mixed feelings about marigolds within the insect world. If you hope to attract bees and other pollinators to your flower garden, you should carefully choose which varieties of marigolds you plant. Fortunately, we have a few ideas to help you grow the right marigolds.

Graceful butterfly on vibrant green leaf, proboscis coiled for nectar.

Marigold Varieties That Attract Bees

As previously mentioned, some varieties of marigolds prove more attractive than others to species of bees, like the honey bee or bumblebee.

The next consideration is the types of marigold flowers you want to plant and grow in your garden. To help you make the right decision for you and the bees, we’ve explored some of the best varieties of marigolds that you should add to your outdoor space.

French Marigolds

Official name: Tagetes Patula.

French marigolds grow to a height between 15cm and 30cm, making them much shorter than their African counterparts. They are small, bushy plants that flaunt strong aromatics and deeply divided leaves, making them often wider than tall. As heat-loving annual flowers, French marigolds last throughout the entirety of the warmer growing seasons, only dying off at the first stages of frost or extreme cold temperatures.

French marigolds  bloom in warm shades of oranges, yellows, and reds, making them a delightful, vivid addition to any flower garden. French marigolds can also have a single row of petals or pom-pom-esque double blooms, but what bees find the most attractive about French marigolds is their open centers.

Like other marigolds, French marigolds thrive in full sunlight and well-drained soil!

Vibrant sea of marigolds: yellow to deep orange gradient.

Signet Marigolds

Official name: Tagetes Tenuifolia.

Native to Mexico and Central America, signet marigolds typically have similar heights to their French cousins, although they can sometimes grow to 50cm tall. Signet marigolds also share the signature sunset-esque colors that we associate with other marigold varieties.

Signet marigolds differ from French and African marigolds in terms of the size of their flowerheads. Sporting small, compact blooms, signet marigolds make for a dainty alternative to the showy aesthetics of French and African marigolds. Moreover, their smaller flowers give bees easy access to their open centers.

Signet marigolds produce a citrusy scent when their petals are bruised.

Butterfly rests on marigold flowers, soft-focus natural backdrop.

African Marigolds

Official name: Tagetes Erecta.

If there were a proud beauty queen within the marigold family, the African marigold would fit the job description!

African marigolds tower over their cousins, growing to a maximum of 91cm. Aside from their incredible height, African marigolds also flaunt large, showy double blooms spanning 10cm.

Additionally, African marigolds have rich, dark green foliage that often exudes a strong scent, making them deer-resistant.

Bursting cluster: vibrant orange marigolds flaunt rich textures, colors.

How to Plant and Grow Marigolds

So, you know by now that marigolds would be the perfect addition to your flower or vegetable garden. The next step is embracing your inner green thumb and planting your marvellous marigolds!Below, we’ll reveal how you can plant and grow French, signet, and African marigolds; the best part is that they are incredibly easy to grow.

1. Knowing When and Where to Plant Your Marigolds

The first step involves choosing which marigolds you’d like to plant in your garden. The three varieties we’ve discussed today will help you attract honey bees and bumblebees, so you can choose to grow several from each variety if you wish.

However, whether you use one or multiple varieties, you must know when to plant your marigolds.

Young French and signet marigolds can be planted anytime throughout spring and up to midsummer. However, if you intend to grow African marigolds, we recommend planting them as soon as frost has passed. Ideally, you should plant African marigolds in spring at the earliest opportunity because this particular variety of marigolds takes longer to produce flowers. 

Tip: We recommend you buy African marigolds as young plants. You can grow from seed for French and Signet marigolds, which produce flowers quicker than African marigolds. Overall, you should expect to see blooms after eight weeks.

As for where you should plant your marigolds, ensure they are in a position where they can get full exposure to sunlight.

Marigolds are excellent companion plants that attract bees and other beneficial pollinating insects into your garden. Therefore, try planting amongst vegetables in a mixed border or near shrubs. Just ensure they don’t become overshadowed by their neighbouring plants. As part of the sunflowers family, they thrive in sunshine.

2. Planting Your Marigolds

Marigolds can be sown straight into the ground, so the first part of planting your marigolds is simple – you just need to use a trowel to remove any existing weeds and moisten the soil. Then, rake the soil to break it up into a crumb-like texture.

From here, you can sow your seeds. Ensure they are 1 inch apart and no deeper than 1 inch into the soil.  Simply sprinkle your seeds into the raked soil and carefully cover them with a light topsoil dressing.

When seeds become seedlings, gently thin them out if they appear too crowded. For French and Signet marigolds, you should space them between 8-10 inches apart. For African marigolds, you should space them out so they are between 10-12 inches apart.

Tip: If you intend to plant your marigolds into containers, use a soil-based potting mix and mix in a slow-acting granular fertilizer during planting time.

3. Growing Your Marigolds

Once you have planted your marigolds, you will be almost ready to invite more bees to your backyard.

The following tips will ensure your marigolds grow into healthy, strong plants with abundant flowers:

  • Inspect your marigolds regularly for dying blossoms and gently remove them.
  • After watering your marigolds, allow the soil to almost dry fully before you water them again.
  • In high heat,  make sure to water your marigolds more often.
  • Water your marigolds at the base of the plant rather than from overhead, especially if you have African marigolds. African marigolds rot in wet conditions.
  • To keep the soil moist,  add a layer of mulch between your marigolds, especially when they are young.
  • Don’t apply water-based fertilizer directly onto the marigolds. Apply to the base of the plant.

If you follow these helpful tips, you’ll have a display of gorgeous marigolds to brighten up your garden. What’s more, not only will you attract bees, but you will also attract other beneficial pollinating insects, such as butterflies.

Other Plants That Are Great For Attracting Bees

To help you in your mission to further attract more bees to your garden, we’ve assembled a small list of other flowers that bees simply can’t resist!

  1. Lavender.
  2. Beebalms.
  3. Sunflowers.
  4. Foxgloves.
  5. Salvias.
  6. Asters.
  7. Catmints.
  8. Black Eyed Susans.
  9. Borages.
  10. Coneflowers.

Any of these flowers would be the perfect companion to marigolds in your garden!

Buzzing bees gather pollen on a vibrant lavender field.

Do Bees Like Marigolds? Final Thoughts

A bee’s work is never done. From producing honey to pollinating the planet’s wildflowers and wild trees, bees put a lot of effort into keeping our luscious forests, fields, and gardens healthy. For this reason, it’s so important for us to create safe, attractive environments for all bees.

So, now’s the time to grab your marigolds and gardening gloves and embrace your inner green thumb. Get creative and mix and match the flowers we’ve mentioned today, and you’ll create a stunning, inviting flower garden in no time!

Don’t forget to take plenty of photos of your garden and tag us on social media – we want to see your lively, bright, bee-filled yards!

So, do bees like marigolds? You tell us!

For more tips related to all things gardening, feel free to check out our blogs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Our most frequently asked questions regarding bee-attracting flowers. 

1. Do bees like all marigold varieties?

Bees will find your marigolds attractive if you choose a variety of marigolds with open centers, making it easier for bees to locate the small, yellow florets within the marigolds.

2. What flowers do bees favor the most?

Aside from the honey bee’s partiality for marigolds, there are other flowers that bees find incredibly appealing. These other flowers include lavender, echinaceas, snapdragons, hostas, and Californian poppies.

3. Will marigolds repel other pollinators and insects?

The pungent scent of marigolds serves as an excellent repellant that will deter flies, mosquitos, and wasps from entering your garden. 

4. How many marigolds should I plant in my garden?

Generally, you should plant four marigolds per square foot in an area where they can have ample exposure to direct sunlight. Make sure you give your marigold seeds a couple of inches of space between them.

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