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
These plants listed below are all valuable in the garden when left to flower.
Queen Anne’s lace
Bells of Ireland (in the mint family)
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.
Predatory ground beetles.
Bees / Butterflies.
In addition to the flower, it has nectaries that are very attractive to beneficial insects.
Attracts beneficial insects.
Hoverflies. Buckwheat is particularly useful as it is fast to flower and makes an excellent green manure crop.
Candytuft (Iberis umbellate)
Hoverflies / Predatory wasps / Robber flies.
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.
Hoverflies / Lacewings / Parasitic wasps. Cosmos is part of the daisy or aster family (below).
*Daisy family (Compositae)
The daisy family includes Mugwort, Sagebrush, Wormwood, Tarragon, Southern wood.