Whiteflies are common garden pests that attack a wide range of flowers and plants, including ficus, poinsettias, tomatoes and hibiscus. These tiny insects are closely related to aphids and coat their bodies in a waxy, white substance. According to the University of California’s Kearny Agricultural Center, whiteflies “injure plants by sucking juices from them causing wilting, stunting or even death.” Fortunately, several flower species repel whiteflies from the garden due to their particular scent and other attributes.
Carroll County, Georgia, master gardener Gail Woody claims marigolds, particularly African and French marigolds, are resistant to the whitefly and will even repel the pests from your garden. French marigolds grow between 6 and 12 inches tall and produce brightly colored yellow, orange and bronze flowers. These flowers typically bloom throughout the spring, summer and fall until the arrival of the first frost. African marigolds grow to roughly 3 feet tall and have larger blossoms than their French cousins. Their flowers are also varying shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. Both varieties need full sun but will adapt to most soils in USDA zones 9 to 11.
These native Peruvian plants are whitefly resistant and produce bright orange, yellow and red flowers that became popular in Europe after arriving in the 16th century. Not only do nasturtiums repel whiteflies, they also attract hummingbirds with their sweet nectar and bright colors. Their buds appear in late spring and can be pickled to use in salads and other vegetable dishes. Nasturtiums need plenty of sun to produce big blooms, but can survive just fine in moist, shady areas of the garden. Plant your nasturtiums between 1/2 and 3/4 inches deep for best results.
Whiteflies also hate calendula, a close relative of the French and African marigolds that often goes by the name English marigold. These plants grow to heights between 12 and 30 inches and roughly the same width. Native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, calendula produces pale to bright yellow and orange daisylike flowers. Calendula is generally a hardy plant but cannot tolerate very extreme temperatures or frost. For best results, plant your calendula in a place with sun or partial shade. This plant repels a variety of other pests in addition to whiteflies, making it a smart choice for any garden.