The Best Flowers to Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Garden
Insects often make people cringe, especially when they see them in their gardens. We have the misconception that most insects are bad and only harm our plants. However, there are beneficial insects that you need to have in your garden. They eat pests that are the real culprit why your crops won’t grow. Unfortunately, they also need some baiting to actually come into your garden.
If you want to grow your veggies and herbs, you need to take care of these useful insects. This way, they will be able to come into your garden to deal with unwanted pests such as aphids, cabbage worms, and squash vine borers. To attract these creatures to your garden, you need to create a healthy habitat for them.
Some flowers are better at attracting insects than others. But, do you know which among hundreds of beautiful flowers out there gives your garden a healthy ecosystem? If not, this list will help you!
5 Flowers Beneficial for Insects and You
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
Personally, I love sunflowers! They make a garden feel more vibrant and happier. These pretty blooms attract not only beneficial insects but also pest-patrolling birds. Hence, you can expect a better harvest of crops when you have some sunflowers around.
Medicinal Benefits: Sunflower seeds provide many health benefits to humans as well. It helps lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and the bad cholesterol in the body. Moreover, the addition of sunflower seeds to your salads and other dishes will give your body Vitamin E, protein, and magnesium. It also contains antioxidants, which help prevent serious conditions such as cancer.
Asters (Aster alpinus)
Often underrated, asters are invaluable to the ecosystem. It is one of the last standing food sources for beneficial insects. Since asters usually bloom in late summer to early fall, they serve an integral role in the food chain of insects while most flowers wither and die.
Medicinal Benefits: Many indigenous tribes use asters to manage diarrhea, while the Chinese use it to help with hemorrhage. Asters are edible. Hence, you can simply add it to your salad whenever you feel like it. Aster leaves are a great source of protein and B Vitamins. Asters are also rich in fiber, beta-carotene, riboflavin, and Vitamin C. Additionally, this beautiful flowering plant also contains minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Signet Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)
Marigold is an annual plant that even first-time gardeners can cultivate. Marigolds are divided into four categories. But the best marigold variety that attracts beneficial insects the most is the signet marigold. Marigolds attract parasitic mini-wasps that help humans control agricultural pests. Marigolds also attract beautiful ladybugs as well as hoverflies.
For seasoned gardeners, they want to add Marigolds in vegetable beds. This strategy does not only make a dull vegetable bed colorful, but the Marigold roots help fight root-knot nematodes. These pests attack the plant from the soil and cause around 5% of crop loss worldwide.
Medicinal Benefits: For humans, marigolds are also beneficial by keeping mosquitoes away preventing any mosquito-borne diseases. Additionally, the petals of this flower have a citrus taste. Thus, they make a great addition to your salads or food garnish.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Butterflies love the nectar-rich yarrow. The blooms of this plant also attract other beneficial insects such as big-eyed bugs, ladybugs, hoverflies, and brown lacewings, among many others. Though yarrow also attracts aphids, the larval forms of beneficial insects feed on them. Hence, there’s really nothing for you to worry about.
Medicinal Benefits: Dried yarrow is useful for tea. You can also add flowers and young leaves of the plant to your salads. However, pregnant women should stay away from this flowering plant since it relaxes the uterine muscle and might lead to miscarriage.
Traditionally, yarrow has been used to stop bleeding as well. All you need is to make a yarrow powder by drying the leaves of a yarrow plant and grind them fine. Some use a blender, while some use a coffee grinder for this. However, you can also use a mortar and pestle if you want to. To use, apply the powder to the bleeding wound. Cover with a band-aid if you can to keep it in place. Remove once the bleeding stops.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is one of the varieties of marigolds, also referred to as pot marigolds. Just like signet marigolds, having calendula in your garden is beneficial. It has enough nectar and pollen that draws bees and butterflies for pollination. Calendula also enchants hoverflies, lacewings, and even ladybugs.
Also known as a trap crop, the plant shuts in pests like aphids, thrips, and whiteflies. It contains resin, a sticky sap, which attracts the pests better than the other plants in your garden. Once pests come in contact with this sticky compound, they will have a hard time getting away.
Medicinal Benefits: And speaking of resin, this is a medicinal compound found in calendula. Resin is mostly extracted using heat to make calendula oil, which you can use to apply on many things such as wounds, eczema, and diaper rash.
To make calendula oil, prepare 1 cup of dried calendula flowers and 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Combine the oil and flowers in a blender, and blend until a thick creamy paste has been formed. Heat the mixture in low heat on a double boiler for 4 to 8 hours. Keep the temperature at 110°F. Strain into a jar using a muslin cloth. Once it cools, you can label and seal the jar. Keep in a cool dry place. This oil can last for up to 1 year if stored properly.
Now that spring is here, all of us are ready to cultivate our gardens. But, you need to be wise in doing so. Make sure that what you plant in your garden will not only make it beautiful but will also contribute to a healthy ecosystem so that your plants can grow healthy.
Since the flowering plants listed above are useful for your garden’s healthy environment and your personal health, why not add them to your garden this spring?
You may also like: