Plants

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.
Coriander
Queen Anne’s lace
Bronze fennel
Golden rod
Dwarf cosmos
Bells of Ireland (in the mint family)
Caraway
Chervil
Dill
Fennel
Italian parsley

Full plant list

* Asterisk denotes plants that have both attractant and repellent qualities

Ajuga

Bees / Butterflies / Birds

Alyssum

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.

*Amaranthus

Predatory ground beetles.

Angelica gigas

Lacewings.

Astragalus

Bees / Butterflies.

Bergamot

Bees.

Broad bean

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

Broccoli flowers

Attracts beneficial insects.

Buckwheat

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

Calendula (marigold)

Bees.

Candytuft (Iberis umbellate)

Hoverflies.

Caraway

Hoverflies / Predatory wasps / Robber flies.

*Chamomile

Hoverflies.

Chinese spinach

flowers attract beneficial insects

*Clover

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

*Coriander

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 (below).

*Daisy family (Compositae)

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

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

Dianthus

Bees.

*Dill

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

*Fennel

Damsel bugs / Hoverflies / Lady beetle / Lacewing.

*Feverfew

Hoverflies.

Foxglove (digitalis)

Dicyphus.

Heather

Bees / Butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Lavender

Bees / Butterflies / Hoverflies.

Lemon balm

Parasitic wasps / Tachinid flies.

Lupin

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)

Dicyphus.

*Mugwort

Bees.

Mustard greens (in flower)

Beneficial insects.

*Nasturtium

Hoverflies.

Oleander

Assassin bug / Lacewings / Minute pirate bug / Wasps.

*Oregano

Beneficials.

*Parsley

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.

*Rosemary

Bees.

*Sage

Bees /Butterflies.

Statice (Limonium latefolium)

Everlasting papery flowers - Hoverflies / Parasitic wasps / Butterflies

Sunflower (Helianthus annulus)

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

*Tansy

Lady beetles / Lacewings / attracts Aphid predators.

*Thyme

Bees / Hoverflies.

Umbelliferae family

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

  • Attracts many beneficials.

Yarrow

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

Zinnia

Hoverflies.