Insectaries: Grow Flowers to Attract Beneficial Insects

| 7/9/2017 12:54:00 AM

Tags: attracting beneficial insects, vegetable gardening, organic pest control, Pam Dawling, Virginia,

Borage Under Garden Plants

Insectary circle including borage. Photo by Bridget Aleshire

We plant selected flowers among our vegetables to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects into our garden. Farmscaping is the name for this practice on a big scale: see the ATTRA publication Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control – CT065. The download costs 99 cents unless you are a subscriber, or if the cost is beyond your means. Oregon State Extension has a 40-page, Year 2000 version online.

After studying the literature, I made a plan and chose some flowers to deal with several garden pests and the need for pollinators. I haven’t run a trial to see whether our flowers do attract more beneficial insects than we had previously, but we do enjoy seeing the flowers. Diversity of species generally helps the ecosystem. Organic pest control improves your crop yields without harming the environment.


In spring, we plant sweet alyssum with spring cabbage and broccoli to attract insects that eat aphids. We transplant one alyssum per eight broccoli or cabbage plants down the middle of the bed, between the two rows of brassicas.

We sow the alyssum in our greenhouse in early March, on the same date as we sow replacement cabbage and broccoli. We transplant in mid-April when we replace any cabbage and broccoli casualties, 2 or 3 weeks after originally transplanting the brassicas. This works very well. We do explain carefully to our helpers not to pull them out when weeding, or smother them with mulch when we top up the hay mulch.

7/9/2017 4:02:11 PM

Dear Pam, I am looking forward to studying the Oregon Extension paper. My Zucchini plants are being ate by the boring bugs and while I've picked the Squash (stink) bugs off and taken out quite a few of their eggs, the borers are taking out the stems. So I'll report back on the next crop as the current one is probably to far gone to save. Thanks! Michael

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