Attract Beneficial Insects: Annick's Short & Sweet List

Have you ever wondered what the percentage of “bad” bugs is out of all the insects in your garden? Is it   a) 75% ?   b) 50% ?   c) 10 % ?

If your answer was c) you were right: only 5% to 10% of insects are the pests causing problems for your beloved plants. Unfortunately some pesticides don’t distinguish between “good” and “bad” bugs and can kill what turns out to be the gardener’s best allies.

Growing flowers that attract beneficial insects is therefore a good way to give Mother Nature a little leg up. Why not let the good bugs take care of the bad for you?

Here are just a few (of many) beautiful and easy-to-care-for plants to add to your garden:

Anise Hyssop, aka Korean Mint (Agastache foeniculum or A. rugosa

This summer-blooming perennial is very rich in nectar. The flowers are highly attractive to pollinators like butterflies and bees. They are also said to repel the white cabbage butterfly, which is a serious pest to plants in the cabbage family, such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Bachelor's Buttons or Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus

This plant’s leaves release nectar even when the flowers are not blooming. The nectar attracts flower flies, ladybugs, lacewings, and beneficial wasps. The plant usually reseeds itself.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima

Low-growing annual used as a highly fragrant edging for flower beds. Very attractive to aphid-eating flower flies.

Borage (Borago officinalis

A bee magnet, this herb has bright blue clusters of edible, cucumber-flavored flowers. Borage is exceptionally attractive to good bugs, with an average of over 100 beneficials found in just 1 square yard of borage! In addition, common green lacewings have a very strong preference to lay their eggs on the leaves of the borage plant.

Fern-Leaf Yarrow Hybrids (Achillea filipendulina

Long-blooming perennial, attractive to four key kinds of beneficials: ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, and mini-wasps. Yarrow does well in poor, dry soils, growing up to 2-3 feet high and wide.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum') & Bulb Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum

Long-lasting fennel flowers are highly attractive to all nectar-feeding beneficial insects. Fennel is a host plant for the caterpillars of the anise swallowtail butterfly.

Ornamental Grasses

All clump-forming grasses provide excellent summer shelter and overwintering sites for ground beetles, ladybugs and other beneficial insects. More than 1,500 predators per square yard are hiding in those grass-covered "beetle banks".

For more info and other plants that attract beneficial insects, try visiting: