The Best Plants for Beneficial Bugs
Choose a diverse mixture of plants with differing floral architecture, bloom times and growth habits and watch a place of beauty become a garden teeming with insect life. Here is a small sampling of the plants listed in Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser.
Anthemis tinctoria — golden marguerite
The dazzling yellow, daisy-like flowers this plant produces light up the garden. Although they are a short-lived perennial, they self-sow and are easy to start from leaf or root cuttings.
Boltonia asteroids — Bolton’s aster
Boltonia is drought tolerant; and when late summer arrives, the plant is smothered in 1-inch, daisy-like flowers. The gray-green foliage is an attractive addition to the garden, and the stems seldom require staking if grown in full sun.
Cosmos bipinnatus — Mexican aster
This native of Mexico has become a common garden plant. It is easy to grow from seed and often found as nursery-grown transplants. Multiple varieties are available.
Eriogonum fasciculatum — California buckwheat
This shrub, which reaches 4 or more feet high and 3 feet wide, produces orbs of tiny, pale pink to white flowers. Another stunning species, St. Catherine’s lace (E. giganteum) is smothered in foot-wide clusters of white flowers.
Helianthus annuus — common sunflower
At home in nearly every garden, sunflowers require little more than full sun and average garden soil. Bold and colorful, they are a beautiful sight.
Leucanthemum x superbum — Shasta daisy
Shastas are classic-looking daisies with a central core of tiny yellow disk flowers surrounded by white ray flowers. The plant’s glossy, dark green leaves have small teeth and create a good habitat for predatory bugs.
Lobularia maritime — sweet alyssum
This plant may be small, but it is enticing to many beneficial bugs in a big way. It is most often grown as an annual. Its short stature makes it a great choice for the front of the insectary border, in between crop rows or in containers.
Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser (Timber Press, 2014)