Gardens harbor a wide variety of insects. Some insects cause devastation to certain garden plants, while other types prey upon the harmful insects. Then, there are insects like the mosquito that mainly attack the gardener who is working to help the garden plant survive. Rather than perpetuate the problem with the further use of chemicals, use flowers to invite the beneficial insects back into the garden.
Flowers to Attract Beneficial Insects
A strategic planting of flowers brings harmony to the garden, inviting beneficial insects to prey on the destructive ones. Black-eyed Susans, asters, goldenrods, bachelor's buttons and Queen Anne's lace attract parasitic wasps and flies into the garden to attack aphids and caterpillars. Ladybugs and their larvae feed on small garden insect pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, chinch bugs, thrips and whiteflies. Ladybugs also eat small larvae and insect eggs. To attract ladybugs to the garden and keep them there, plant oleander, yarrow, angelica and morning glory.
The larvae of green lacewings attack aphids, mites, whiteflies, leafhopper nymphs and mealybugs. Flowers like Queen Anne's lace, yarrow and oleander that are rich in nectar will keep the adult lacewings happy in the garden, producing three or four generations of voracious larvae each year.
Some flowering plants are so attractive to destructive garden pests that they can be used to lure the insects away from other valuable plants.
Nasturtiums attract aphids, flea beetles and leaf miners. Plant nasturtiums within 10 feet of insect problems and simply destroy the plant when it has drawn the insect pests to it. Evening primroses, white geraniums and zinnias serve as trap flowers for the Japanese beetle.
Flowers that Repel Insects
Nasturtiums repel squash bugs, while cabbage moths shun marigolds. Lavender and creeping thyme are good for keeping slugs away, while ants seem to stay away from tansies. French and African marigolds have substances that are toxic to nematodes.
Some plants will repel those pesky insect pests that torment the gardener. Lavenders and scented geraniums have such strong scents that mosquitoes will be deterred from the area where they grow.
Flowers to Invite Birds
Invite birds into the garden to feed upon destructive insects. Songbirds consume thousands of insects while raising their young. Growing roses, echinacea and rudbeckia will contribute to turning the backyard into an attractive habitat for the birds.