Do tomatoes like zinnias?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Tomatoes and zinnias have a mutually beneficial relationship in the garden. Zinnias are known to attract a variety of beneficial insects, including predatory wasps and ladybugs, which can help control pests that commonly affect tomato plants.

Cucumber beetles and tomato worms are two pests that can wreak havoc on tomato plants. Cucumber beetles feed on the leaves and fruits of tomato plants, while tomato worms, also known as hornworms, devour the foliage, stems, and fruits. These pests can significantly damage tomato plants and reduce yields.

However, zinnias release a chemical compound called linalool, which acts as a natural repellent for cucumber beetles. By planting zinnias near your tomato plants, you can help deter these pesky beetles from feasting on your tomatoes. This is a great organic method to minimize the damage caused by cucumber beetles without resorting to chemical pesticides.

Furthermore, zinnias also attract predatory wasps, which are natural enemies of tomato worms. These wasps lay their eggs inside the bodies of tomato worms, effectively parasitizing them and preventing them from causing further damage to your tomato plants. By providing a habitat for these beneficial insects, zinnias can help keep the tomato worm population in check, reducing their impact on your precious tomatoes.

Additionally, zinnias attract ladybugs, which are voracious predators of aphids and white flies. Aphids are tiny insects that suck the sap from plants and can quickly reproduce and infest tomato plants, causing stunted growth and deformed leaves. White flies are small, winged insects that also feed on the sap of tomato plants and can spread diseases. Ladybugs feed on both aphids and white flies, helping to keep their populations under control.

In my own experience, I have found that planting zinnias near my tomato plants has indeed helped in deterring cucumber beetles and reducing the damage caused by tomato worms. I have noticed a decrease in the number of beetles on my tomato plants and have observed more predatory wasps and ladybugs in my garden. As a result, my tomato plants have been healthier and have produced better yields.

To fully harness the benefits of zinnias for your tomatoes, it is recommended to interplant them among your tomato plants or create a border around your tomato bed. This will provide a visual and olfactory stimulus for the beneficial insects, attracting them to your garden and encouraging them to stay and hunt the pests.

In conclusion, tomatoes do indeed benefit from the presence of zinnias in the garden. The zinnias help deter cucumber beetles and tomato worms, while also attracting predatory wasps and ladybugs that keep aphids and white flies in check. By incorporating zinnias into your tomato garden, you can create a more balanced and pest-resistant ecosystem, ultimately leading to healthier and more productive tomato plants.