Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects

Slideshow: Flowers and Herbs that Draw Pollinators to the Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 1, 2019

Beneficial insects can be a gardener’s best resource for protecting crops against destructive pests. Beneficials include pollinators, predators and parasites. By attracting a large enough population of helpful bugs to counteract plant damaging insects, you can keep your garden healthy using nature’s method of pest control. Planting flowers and herbs that build habitat for beneficial insects also helps make your garden resilient to climate change.

White, pink or crimson Cosmos are advantageous flowers for the garden. Cosmos attracts pollinating insects as well as hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs.
Hyssop is one of the best plants for attracting pollinators like butterflies, bees and hover flies. Strong-scented hyssop repels white cabbage butterflies by masking the smell of brassicas nearby with its aroma. Related members of the Labiatae family, including mint, lemon balm, cat nip, pennyroyal are excellent attractors of tachinid flies, hover flies and parasitic wasps.
Dill and members of the Apiaceae family such as fennel, parsley, coriander, lovage, angelica and flowering carrots are powerful attractors of beneficial lady bugs, parasitic wasps, hover flies, tachinid flies, lacewings—all useful for controlling garden pests.
Yarrow is a good perennial for natural pest protection. The tiny yarrow flowers attract bees, aphid-eating lady bugs, hover flies and parasitic wasps.
Calendula (pot marigold) and other marigolds draw pollinating bees and butterflies to the garden. They also attract protective hover flies, lady bugs, and parasitic wasps. The older varieties of marigolds have stronger aromas. Calendula and French marigolds can repel nematodes.
Bee balm, bergamot, and other members of the <em>Monarda</em> genus attract pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and hover flies, as well as hummingbirds.
Nasturtium, with its showy orange and yellow flowers, is an old garden standby known for its protective qualities. This bright flower attracts pollinators as well as pest-fighters.
Before you pull your weeds, consider— dandelions and other flowering weeds draw beneficial insects to the garden early in the spring before other flowers have a chance to bloom. Dandelions also provide early pollen to bees.
White, pink or crimson Cosmos are advantageous flowers for the garden. Cosmos attracts pollinating insects as well as hover flies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and lady bugs.

Beneficial Insects: Pollinators, Predators and Parasites

Pollinators like bees and butterflies help fertilize flowers and set fruit and vegetable growth. Predators, including lady bugs, lacewings, and flower flies feed on aphids, mites, and and other common garden pests. Parasites, such as tiny parasitic wasps, help control caterpillar infestations by injecting their eggs into host organisms, feeding off them and eventually destroying them.

Small-flowered Plants to Attract Helpful Insects

Small-flowered plants, especially those with tiny purple, blue, yellow or white flowers on aromatic herbs, entice bees and other beneficial insects to the garden, bringing a host of benefits.



More about gardening:
Plants that Help Bees Through the Winter15 Plants That Help Bees Through the Winter

10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens

Plant a Bee Attracting GardenPlant a Bee Attracting Garden

Grow a Climate Change Resilient GardenGrow a Climate Change Resilient Garden

2 Responses leave one →
  1. 2018 June 21
    Marilyn Robinson permalink

    Hi I grow alot of the benificial plants, I love pansies, why are they not for bees? Does it hurt them? Love your articles

    • 2018 June 21
      BC Farms & Food permalink

      Pansies are hybrids, bred for their large multi-coloured blooms. Like many other ornamental bedding plants and showy flowers (such as begonias, carnations, and non-native roses), they are not very good for bees. Although they look attractive, many of them no longer have enough nectar to feed the bees. In the case of pansies, selective breeding has lengthened their nectar tubes making it difficult for bees to access. Double rows of petals also make nectar more inaccessible. If you want to draw bees and butterflies to your garden or farm, plant native plants. There’s many beautiful choices.

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