Attracting beneficials
There are many ways we can use plants in the garden to aid in our quest to produce the best vegetables we could possibly eat. By making use of their beneficial qualities, we can improve the soil and plants around them, and hopefully reduce the need for insecticides.

Insectary plants are those plants that have some important interaction with insects, whether it is to attract beneficial insects or to repel pests.

Insectary plants to attract beneficial insects

These plants will attract beneficial insects to the garden. Many adults of beneficial insects either supplement their diet or feed exclusively on nectar and pollen. By growing a range of these plants we can offer a choice to suit many of them and create all-important diversity in the garden. 

By incorporating plants which produce nectar in the garden you can attract insect eating birds.

Tips for attracting beneficial insects

  • Plant attractant plants in rows or islands in the vegetable beds, or even place in pots around the garden, so they are not disturbed when you’re working in the garden bed
  • Allow crops to flower, especially salad and cabbage plants
  • Have plants of varying heights to create different habitats - e.g. beetles require cover, taller plants protect hoverflies
  • Plants with tiny flowers are good as large blooms can overwhelm tiny wasps
  • Grow green manure crops, such as clover and vetch

Top Picks

These plants listed below are all valuable in the garden when left to flower.
Queen Anne’s lace
Bronze fennel
Golden rod
Dwarf cosmos
Bells of Ireland (in the mint family)
Italian parsley

Full plant list

* Asterisk denotes plants that have both attractant and repellent qualities


Bees / Butterflies / Birds


Hoverflies / Lacewings / Tachinid flies / Tiny parasitic wasps
Alyssum is an exceptional, fast blooming insectary plant that has plentiful small flowers. It is not aggressive so it doesn’t compete with or shade crop plants, and there are no problems with it becoming weedy.


Host to predatory ground beetles.

Angelica gigas



Bees / Butterflies.



Broad bean

In addition to the flower, it has nectaries that are very attractive to beneficial insects.

Broccoli flowers

Attracts beneficial insects.


Hoverflies / Predatory wasps / Pirate bugs / Tachinid flies / Lady beetles'

Buckwheat is particularly useful as it is fast to flower and makes an excellent green manure crop.

Calendula (marigold)


Candytuft (Iberis umbellate)



Hoverflies / Predatory wasps / Robber flies.


Hoverflies / wasps

Chinese spinach

flowers attract beneficial insects


White flowers: Bees.
Red flowers: Bees / Butterflies.


Hoverflies / Lady beetles.
Coriander is one of the most beneficial plants you can use.

*Cosmos bipinnatus

Hoverflies / Lacewings / Parasitic wasps.
Cosmos is part of the daisy or aster family

*Daisy family (Compositae)

Butterflies / Hoverflies / Lacewings / Parasitic wasps- Shasta daisy (white petals, yellow centres) - Minute pirate bugs / Beneficial mites.

The daisy family includes Mugwort, Sagebrush, Wormwood, Tarragon, Southern wood.




Bees / Hoverflies / Ichueumon wasp / Lady beetle / Lacewings.


Damsel bugs / Hoverflies / Lady beetle / Lacewing.



Foxglove (digitalis)



Bees / Butterflies and other beneficial insects.


Bees / Butterflies / Hoverflies.

Lemon balm

Parasitic wasps / Tachinid flies.


Aphidius / Aphidoletes / Hoverflies.

Lucerne/ alfalfa

Assassin bug / Big-eyed bug / Ichneumon wasp / Encarsia formosa (parasitic wasp).

*Marigold dwarf, daisy family

Lady beetles / Hoverflies / Butterflies (all marigolds).

Morning glory, dwarf (Convolvulus minor)

Hoverflies / Lady beetles.

Mullein (Verbascum thaspus)




Mustard greens (in flower)

Beneficial insects.




Assassin bug / Lacewings / Minute pirate bug / Wasps.


Beneficials generally.


Bees / Parasitic wasps / Hoverflies / Tachinid flies .

Pincushion flower (scabiosa)

Hoverflies / Parasitic wasps.

Queen Anne’s Lace

Bees / Lacewings / Lady beetles / Hoverflies / Small wasps

Radish (daikon)

Flowers attract beneficials.




Bees /Butterflies.

Statice (Limonium latefolium)

Everlasting papery flowers - Hoverflies / Parasitic wasps / Butterflies

Sunflower (Helianthus annulus)

Minute pirate bug / Beneficial mites / Aphidius / Parasitic wasps.


Lady beetles / Lacewings / attracts Aphid predators.


Bees / Hoverflies.

Umbelliferae family

Carrot, parsley, coriander, dill, chervil, fennel, caraway

  • Attracts many beneficials.


Yellow: Lacewings / Aphidius / Lady beetles.
White: Hoverflies / Parasitic wasps / Lady beetles.