What is Stripping My Marigolds? (And How to Naturally Rid Them)

Marigolds are pretty flowers, and you will often see them in more natural gardens and flower beds. They are annual flowers, with bright orange, yellow, and red flowers that stand out. They can be fairly small, and don’t take up a lot of space, but they do have a fair amount of benefits. 

Marigolds are listed as being pest-repellent flowers. They are used to keep pests off of other flowers and plants like vegetables. It is true that they are very deer-repellent, and are bitter to most pests, even invasive ones. They can even repel nematodes with their roots. 

However, it isn’t completely perfect, and some pests will still bother Marigolds. The most common pests that may be stripping your Marigolds are rodents, birds, slugs, snails, aphids, thrips, and spider mites. These insects are not picky, and even may choose Marigolds over other flowers when some options are present. 

Thankfully, getting rid of all these pests is fairly easy. There are simple remedies that will help to protect your Marigolds, such as fencing, netting, neem oil, soap and water, and more. 

What’s Eating My Marigold Flowers?

The most common pests for marigolds are insects. Though they can act as a natural insect repellent, they can also attract certain insects and pests. 

Slugs & Snails

The most common are slugs and snails. They tend to enjoy eating both the flowers and the leaves. They are very attracted to Marigolds and will readily pick them over most other plants in the area. 

It is easy to see when slugs and snails are the pests preying on your plant because they will usually leave behind a trail of slime. They are nocturnal, so you won’t see them much during the day, except for their slime trails. However, if you go out at night, you will often see them climbing around. 


Aphids are another common pest. They usually live on the leaves more than the flowers themselves. They are difficult to see because they are pretty similar in color. They are light green and live on the undersides of the leaves. You can usually easily see that they are present by an abundance of ants near your plants that are attracted to the honeydew that the aphids produce.  


Thrips are winged insects that are yellow, green, and black. They are similar to aphids in how they attack the Marigolds, by sucking the sap and nutrients from the plant until it dies. 

Spider Mites

Spider mites
Spider mites are also commonly seen on Marigolds. They dig holes in the leaves of plants and drain the nutrients. They are actually more related to spiders than to insects, though they do harm plants in similar ways. 

How Do I Protect My Marigolds?

To keep bigger animals away from your Marigolds, using a closed container and netting are often your best option. Many rodents can burrow or live underground, so they can get to the roots of your flowers and kill them. Putting a fence a few feet into the ground can stop them from getting in. 

Additionally, netting or a fence above the Marigolds can keep out birds and stop them from destroying your flowers. Set the net so it isn’t directly on top of your flowers and has room to grow. 

What Is A Natural Slug Repellent?

There are a lot of ways to repel slugs or stop them from reaching your Marigolds. Some common methods are:

  • Beer Traps – This is a simple method. Just take a small plastic cup and fill it with beer. Slugs are attracted to fermented food. They will be too drunk and wet to get out. 
  • Coffee – Fresh coffee grounds sprinkled around your plant can keep slugs away. The high caffeine content repels them.
  • Copper Tape – Copper is a natural slug repellent as the slime that they produce causes electrical shocks when it reacts with the copper. 
  • Seaweed – Fresh and powdered seaweed works well at repelling slugs. It isn’t necessarily the seaweed that repels them as much as the salt in the seaweed. 
  • Egg Shells – Eggs crushed into small pieces can create sharp objects that slugs aren’t heavily enticed to crawl over. 
  • Grapefruit – Slugs like citrus, so placing a few rinds on the ground distracts the slugs from the Marigold. 
  • Repelling Plants – Certain plants like rue, fennel, wormwood, anise, and rosemary keep away slugs. Mix them in with your Marigolds to keep them safe. 
  • Nut Shells – Nut shells work the same way as egg shells. 
  • Petroleum Jelly – By putting jelly alongside pots, plant stalks, and containers can make it slippery and hard for the slugs to grab on. 

How Do You Get Rid Of Aphids On Marigolds?

To get rid of aphids, and many other insects, the best method is to use a little soap and water. Create a solution of soapy water and spray down the area. This helps to dry out the insect and kill it. You can also use things like insecticidal soap, though this can harm beneficial insects as well. 

Additionally, if your Marigolds are full-sized and strong, take water that has fairly high pressure and shoot the underside of the leaves. This can dislodge any pests so they are no longer harming your plant. 

Can You Spray Neem Oil On Marigolds?

Spraying neem oil on Marigolds has many positive benefits. It can prevent or stop fungal diseases that may be affecting your plant such as mold black spot, rust, or powdery mildew. 

It also works as a pesticide. It only targets insects that chew and suck on the foliage of leaves so it won’t hurt any beneficial insects. It is also safe for wildlife and other plants, so you don’t have to worry about harming anything nearby. It doesn’t even hurt earthworms or animals in the soil, so you can continue to have a happy and living ecosystem in the soil around your plants. 

Some insects that it helps to eradicate are:

  • Aphids
  • Mites
  • Scale
  • Leaf Hoppers
  • White Flies
  • Caterpillars
  • Mites
  • Mealybugs
  • Thrips
  • Nematodes

What Animal Eats The Tops Of Marigolds?

In addition to small pests and insects, there are animals as well that enjoy the Marigolds. Birds are a big problem. Crows, robins, and blackbirds are the ones you will see the most in your garden. They don’t actually often eat the leaves but search through the plants for small slugs and insects to eat. 

During their search, they will often rip off or break the tops of Marigolds, which makes it look like something is eating the plants. 

Rodents may also eat Marigolds, like rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and gophers. However, Marigolds are bitter for most animals, and they only eat them if there are no other options around and they are desperate for food. 

How Do You Keep Marigolds Looking Good?

Other ways to keep your Marigolds looking good besides removing pests include making sure they are getting proper care. Water and nutrients are the most important and if given in the right quantities, you can keep your Marigolds blooming all summer. 

They need to be fertilized about every two days with about half of the recommended fertilizer. They can take any flower fertilizer, but doing it frequently with partial doses keeps them growing longer. 

For watering, they need the top one inch (2.5 cm) of soil to be moist at all times so watering once per week may be enough. Though it’s important to check the soil daily during the growing season to ensure it doesn’t dry out completely. 

You can also deadhead any blooms that are dying. When one of the flowers starts to dry out or die, simply trim it off of the plant. This reduces the amount of energy they have to waste by keeping that dying flower alive a little longer, and makes room for new flowers to grow. They can be easily pinched off with your fingers, but sharp scissors can also be used.


While Marigolds can help keep away a lot of invasive and harmful pests like deer and nematodes, they can also attract a few pests on their own. 

The most common pests that may be stripping your Marigolds are rodents, birds, slugs, snails, aphids, thrips, and spider mites. Thankfully, these pests are easy to get rid of by using fencing, netting, soap and water, neem oil, coffee grounds, eggshells, and even beer traps.

Most of the things you need to protect your Marigolds you can find around your home. They aren’t harmful to other plants or insects so give a few a try and see what works best.