Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beneficial Insects and flowers in the vegetable garden.

Always on the quest to improve my garden and learn more about "organic" methods to prevent insects from devouring my plants, I recently searched for flowers to intertwine with my vegetable garden to increase beneficial insects.

After reading and finding lists, I found many of the suggested plants are already growing in my garden. A pleasant surprise to say the least.  I have in the past planted basil, sage, bronze fennel, dill and parsley without thinking about insects. The herbs were planted to eat not deter insects. A neighbor told me to plant marigolds to control aphids around the tomatoes. I found the marigolds did indeed keep the aphids down so I interplanted them again this year. 

The parsley and dill draws a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly every year so I plant parsley and dill just for them. When I see the yellow striped catepillar I know the plants will be soon deleafed and the caterpillars gone to come back as a beautiful butterfly.. 

Below is a partial list of plants suggested for drawing beneficial insects to the gardens and those I have planted. 

Annual Flowers and Herbs  

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) -- The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects. A few sites offered the aroma of the leaves may deter aphids.

Calendula (Pot Marigold) -- Edible, orange or yellow flower petals.  Attracts bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

Cosmos -- Attracts lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps. 

Dill (Anethum graveolens) -- The leaves are used in recipes, and the flowers attract lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps.  The black swallowtail butterfly also enjoys this herb in my garden.

Marigold (Tagetes sp.) -- The flowers attract butterflies and hoverflies, and the roots produce a secretion that kills root-eating nematodes in the soil. 

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) -- The flowers attract hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic wasps. 

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) -- A wonderful flower for attracting, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and butterflies.  

Perennial Flowers and Herbs

Photo by Bruce Marlin NW Center for alternative pesticides 
Bronze Fennel  (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum') --Bronze foliage. The flowers attract lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic mini-wasps and butterflies.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) -- Attracts butterflies and bees. Seeds will self sow all over the garden, deadhead religiously.

Garlic Chives  (Allium tuberosum) -- The flowers attract bees and beneficial insects. The leaves have a nice, strong garlic flavor. Reading information on this herb I found it repels aphids on roses. 

Lemon Balm  (Melissa officinalis) --  The tiny flowers attract hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic mini-wasps.  The leaves make a nice lemon flavored tea.

Sage  (Salvia sp.) -- There are many forms of sage, including culinary. They all attract bees and butterflies. Culinary sage is used with pork, and the leaves can be fried.

Yarrow (Achillia sp.) -- Attracts ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps. A favorite in my garden that doesn't need alot of water.

For more information on insects, check out the Penn State Entomology site:

Another Extension site worth visiting on this issue is

Additional Information

1 comment:

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