Marigold Insect Spray

by Daisy

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I can’t bring myself to pull up the giant marigold that’s hogging a good one-third of one of my best raised beds so I’m determined to get the most benefit out of it.  One of the uses for this plant is in a spray which is said to combat tomato hornworms, other leaf-cutting insects, plus asparagus beetles.

To make the spray, blend about a cup, packed, of the leaves, stems, and flowers if you don’t mind, in a blender with two cups of water.


Allow the blend to sit for 24 hours.


Strain and add 1/4 teaspoon of castille soap. Dilute with another 6 cups of water and spray on plants in jeopardy.

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

rowena___. October 30, 2009 at 5:53 am

wow, this is great, i have TONS of marigolds still! THANK YOU! how long do you think this will keep?

Rebecca October 30, 2009 at 9:16 am

Good idea! How do you clean the blender to get the marigold smell out?

Ginny October 30, 2009 at 10:50 am

This is a great idea! Marigolds grow so luxuriantly that it’s good to find uses for them. I knew that they warded off bugs as companion plants and the idea of a spray is excellent. Thanks!

Shannon Watkins October 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm

This sounds great. How long does it keep? If I make it now with my lingering marigolds, will it keep until next years tomatoes? Or it is best fresh?
Thanks for ALL your work and creativity. You guys are fantatsic!

homemade serenity October 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm

brilliant! thank you for the marigold spray recipe. I’ll be sure to use this next year.

Tomato Lady October 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Hi Everybody–I would say to stick a pin in this for next year’s bugs if you live where winter is on its way. It will be best made fresh, probably keeps a week or so.
Rebecca, I never had a problem. My blender jar is glass and it doesn’t hold odors. A plastic one might–wash it promptly and maybe a scrub with some baking soda if any smell lingers. I don’t think it will be an issue.
Thanks, guys!

Erin from long island October 31, 2009 at 4:51 am

Am I the only one who LOVES the flavor of marigolds? I like the leaves the best…I use them in salads, to flavor rice, in soups….

The Unusual Farm Chick October 31, 2009 at 5:37 am

Perfect Witch’s brew for Halloween! That last picture was perfect for today.
I bet it smells about as good as it looks.LOl.
Great tip! It is going into the Garden herbal help book for any future invaders.

PJ October 31, 2009 at 7:59 am

Also 2 and half feet of snow does wonders for bugs in the garden. Waiting to see if my winter garden was squashed, by snow. but very few bugs now.

Tomato Lady October 31, 2009 at 8:10 am

PJ–Ouch. Yes, I guess that’s one way to do it. Yikes.

Portia McCracken October 31, 2009 at 10:54 am

Marigold is rich in pyrethrins, which bugs really do hate; it’s used in mnay commercial repellents, too. Here’s the wiki list of repellent plants: Here’s another that’s more fun:

For Erin from long island: Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem are supposed to have the best flavor!

Erin from long island November 1, 2009 at 2:37 am

thanks Portia, I will be sure to plant those next year!

Handful November 1, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Awsome idea. You must live south of me, what zone are you in? Unfortunately mine (marigolds) have been bitten by the frost bug. Flowers are dead but the leaves are still green. Do you think I could possibly dry some plants and make it for next year? Will my “pyrethrins” wear out over winter? Guess it won’t hurt to try! We planted marigolds among our tomatoes and squash – they did a wonderful job of repelling those nasty horned green things but not so much on the silver beatles.

Rebecca – try a bit of lemon water or bleach water in your blender if an oder lingers.

PJ – 🙁 how sad. You must be near CO. Maybe the snow will act as a blanket as it does for winter wheat! I will keep my fingers crossed!

Tomato Lady November 3, 2009 at 12:23 am

Handful–Just make some fresh when the bugs hit, then you’ll know it’s fresh. I’m zone 7.

Jessica February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Do you have a recipe for fertilizer/plant food? Some of my plants need a little pick me up.

karissa June 1, 2011 at 10:21 am

Why the soap? If I left out the soap would it not work the same? Thank you

Tomato Lady June 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm

karissa–The fatty acids in the soap act to increase the permeability of the membranes of the cells of soft-bodied insects. The contents of the cells leak out, which kills the pests.

Linda Sue December 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Can dry marigolds be used for insect spray? I have a lot of plants and want to use the spray in the spring. If not dry maybe frozen. But would prefer dry for space reasons.

Daisy December 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Yes, that would work!

jean November 15, 2013 at 1:48 am

I live in San Francisco and have a plot in a community garden. The earwigs are really bad here. They LOVE marigold leaves and eat them to the stem. I don’t understand it!

Daisy November 15, 2013 at 9:51 am

jean–Ack! Somebody needs to tell the earwigs marigolds are supposed to be repellant!

Paulette December 3, 2013 at 1:22 am

I had heard that planting marigolds near tomatoes helps keep nematodes away but it turns out there is only one type of marigold that works for that and it isn’t one of the prettiest. I do not know which it is, but perhaps could be googled or contact some central CA agricultural extension office maybe?

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