Pest-Fighting Flowers

comments (21) April 27th, 2011

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yourownvictorygarden Greg Holdsworth, contributor
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Four OClocks
The pest-fighting champion, the marigold.
The big daddy of them all, the sunflower.
Click To Enlarge Photo: Wikipedia Commons

One of the great things about vegetable gardening is that at some point or stage it can take care of itself. No, I don't mean abandoning your garden chores (sorry). One of the ways you can get "help" is to select plants, particularly flowers, for your garden that will help control insect pests.

Certain flowers contain properties that either invite beneficial insects or repel harmful insects. Beneficial insects prey on pests that cause damage in the garden; ladybugs and praying mantises are good examples.

Using flowers for pest control not only cuts down on your workload, but it also reduces the amount of pesticides that you have to resort to. Fewer pesticides means more good bugs, which in turn means help in controlling bad bugs.

That said, what works in my veggie garden may not work in yours. Every garden has a different growing climate, soil type, and of course, pests. You will have to experiment to find out what works best for your situation. Choosing flowers and other plants that are native to your area will help, as the beneficial insects will already know what to look for.

Without further ado, here's an incomplete, yet helpful list of your "fighting flowers".

Although it is an herb, borage can deter hornworms and cabbage worms, and is believed to help almost any plant increase its resistance to disease and pests.

Chrysanthemums have large flower heads in white, yellow or pink, and they can be quite helpful with pests in the garden. Some varieties have been made into a tea for use as a pesticide to kill root nematodes and repel Japanese beetles.

Dahlias grow flowers with a variety of shapes and colors, making them a popular choice for flower gardeners. They’re said to also repel nematodes, making them both beautiful and useful in your vegetable garden.

Four O’Clocks
Four O’Clock flowers will attract and kill Japanese beetles, making them an excellent bait flower to place near your vegetable gardens. These flowers are also poisonous to pets and people too however, so take care to choose safe locations if you choose to plant these.

Lavender is an excellent general pest repellent flower to use in your garden. It repels both fleas and moths, and it can help protect other plants near it from whiteflies.

The marigold is probably the most well known plant for repelling insects. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to "bug" many destructive insects. Marigold flowers come in scented and unscented varieties, with the scented ones are best used for pest deterrents. And while this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites and snails.

Nasturtiums planted near tomatoes and cucumbers can fight off aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow blooming varieties, act as a trap for aphids.

Petunias can repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, tomato hornworms, and others.

Sunflowers might be the largest flower you have in your garden, and what a better beacon to say "come on over" to beneficial pollinators. I've heard that they can draw aphids away from other plants.

If you've had good luck with any others, chime in.

posted in: pests, flowers, Pest control, pest management

Comments (21)

royrice21 writes: nice one...
Posted: 4:10 am on August 20th
maxwilson writes: Nice flower
Posted: 6:01 am on October 26th
joshvega10 writes: Very nice flower.
Posted: 11:23 pm on August 28th
carlsimon47 writes: Niceeeee...
Posted: 12:11 am on July 29th
kevinalexis8 writes: Love it
Posted: 7:42 am on July 19th
antisal writes: I need help! How do I get rid of moles and voles in my yard and keep them out? I also have 4 free range chickens. I live on 2 acres of dense woods and very little "lawn". I use the straw bale method of gardening. Please help ASAP!!!!

Posted: 2:01 pm on March 2nd
wynx writes: I use tansy to combat white fly from tomato and other plants with great success. u
Posted: 2:16 pm on March 1st
solomon9 writes: nice flower.
Posted: 5:05 am on February 26th
lunglee writes: Peppermint for mice. Plant around like a barrier.
Posted: 11:32 am on February 6th
steviestever writes: @Henandchicks There is a bunch of things you can do to repel slugs. I use broken eggshells around things like strawberries. Every time you have eggs, break up the shells and throw them in all around the plants you want to protect. Slugs hate the sharp edges. I also use pine needles after the Xmas trees dry out I throw them in as mulch and eventual compost. Salt works too but salt washes into the ground. If you happen to have copper wire around in abundance slugs will not cross a copper line or circle if you place it around the plant.
Posted: 11:40 pm on August 9th
cmohnasky writes: To get rid of the gophers put windmills in your yard.
Posted: 7:01 pm on March 30th
HenandChicks writes: Someone PLEASE give me a natural method of keeping SLUGS and snails away from my petunias! I am desperate, because every year prior they were eaten up before July came. Thanks
Posted: 9:23 am on May 22nd
Lacey58 writes: Don't understand why you would want to get rid of nematodes, as they gear rid of the Schaffer beetle. I buy nematodes to do this.
Posted: 12:00 am on March 29th
Ron777 writes: Hi Greg, great site.
I also would like to know how close I need to plant flowers for nematodes.

I tried to find responses from other posts but was unable to. I presume you send answers to comments in emails.

Posted: 10:51 am on February 4th
SandyRode writes: I now understand why my tomatoes last year got so infected with the spider mites. I did not know that Marigolds attracted them. Is there something that will repel spider mites?
Thank you for giving the rest of the information!!! I need all the help I can get!
Posted: 12:13 pm on February 3rd
DavisSmith writes: I must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog.It is easy to see that you are impassioned about your writing.

Posted: 1:37 am on November 19th
Antonio_Reis writes: Hi Tyler! We think that it's always a great idea to substitute pesticide with more organic options, such as pest-fighting flowers. That said, I doubt you'll be able to control gophers without fence or animal control, as you suggested.
Posted: 7:56 am on June 6th
TylerMcC writes: I have never seen an article like this before :o But than again, im pretty new to the whole gardening thing. The wife is the worker now and well I'm the attendee of the garden, haha. Not complaining :) But this was a great find for me, amazing! Thanks!

So does this mean I should stay away from pesticides? and pest control? Because I think i have gofers :( I may have to just call a local pest removal company here in Toronto to deal with them.

Would love your feedback,

Posted: 12:25 pm on June 4th
Nicky11 writes: I didn't know Chrysanthemums can be used for these purpose too.
Posted: 5:26 am on May 22nd
chrisgietzen writes: I did not know that Lavender is a natural flea repellant. We have cats and they spend time in the backyard daily with supervision. How many Lavender plants should be planted around our yard to be most effective in keeping fleas away?
Posted: 10:41 am on May 10th
skhenderson28 writes: Loved the article. I'm still a bit new to veggie gardening and am wondering how close to the veggies these flowers need to be in order to be effective? Would planting the perimeter of the garden with a variet of these flowers give close enough proximity or do they need to be planted at the bases of the vegatables?

Thanks so much.
Sharon Henderson
Posted: 10:50 am on May 4th
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