I admit to having a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to looking at seed catalogs. I go right for the vegetable section. Herbs, flowers --- nah. All I want to see are all of those tomatoes, the possibilities for salads and canning spread before me, just beckoning me to order just a few more heirloom varieties. Winter squashes, melons, lettuces and beans. These pages are addictive to me.
But then, at some point, I shake myself out of it and look at the herbs and flowers. My vegetable garden would be nothing, after all, without the work of the beneficial insects who call my garden home. Without the bees, I'd be trying to hand-pollinate my pumpkins, melons, and cukes every year. Without the lady beetles and soldier beetles, my pest control duties would be much more bothersome. And most beneficials are attracted to the garden through a combination of good organic practices (mulching, leaving some wild areas, and not spraying) and certain plants.
With beneficial insects in mind, I start leafing through the flower and herb sections. Here are some ideas for planting to attract beneficial insects:
- About.com Insects Guide Debbie Hadley has a helpful article about attracting beneficials, including information about creating an insectary in your garden.
- Mother Earth News has a great article about the best plants for attracting bees and other beneficial insects.
Right away, I see several plants that belong on my list: dill, fennel, calendula, cosmos, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, yarrow, and thyme. I already grow some of these, but I can certainly find room to tuck a few more into my garden. Not only will they attract beneficial insects, but my garden will be prettier as a result.
Do you plant to attract beneficial insects? What are some of your favorite plants?