Using flowers as natural pest control in the garden

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This spring when I’m placing and planting ornamentals in the garden, I will be strategic about the flowers I place around my veggie gardens. I had such a problem with Colorado potato beetles last year (they attacked both my tomatillos and my potatoes), I’ve been doing a lot of research on natural pest control. One thing I haven’t really paid much attention to in the past is the idea of planting flowers that will attract beneficial insects that can help control the bad insect populations and others that repel them completely. Certain flowers can also be ground up and stewed in water to create a pest-repelling “tea” that can be used to spray infested areas.

While touring the Jardin le Tournesol, Québec City’s largest and oldest community garden, last summer, I was inspired by many of the gardens that edged their “property lines” with flowers. The image at the top of this post, with the marigold border, is from one of those plots. Marigolds are known to deter whitefly and they keep nasty nematodes away from anything in the brassica family, like broccoli and cabbage. Certain varieties also keep away root-knot nematodes, which can damage melons.

All that garlic I planted will come in handy to fend off Japanese beetles and aphids. Furthermore, dill and borage around my tomatoes should repel the hornworms, while orange nasturtiums will protect my squash and cucumbers. Apparently the yellow ones trap aphids!

I haven’t planted sweet alyssum in awhile, but I will add some to my veggie garden border to attract flower flies that like to munch on aphids.

To attract other beneficial insects, I will be sure to include some of the following plants on my spring planting list:

  • Milkweed
  • Bachelor’s buttons
  • Anise hyssop
  • Lemon balm
  • Coreopsis
  • Amaranth

As for the Colorado potato beetles, aka the bane of my existence (right up there with bindweed), apparently buckwheat will attract predatory wasps, flies and beneficial insects that will hopefully make short work of any greedy potato beetles. I think buckwheat will be my first priority.

Of course I will also keep Jessica’s new book handy to provide me with further planting inspiration!

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9 Responses to Using flowers as natural pest control in the garden

  1. We have found buckwheat to be very useful as a soil enhancer. Whether it inhibits Colorado Potato Beetle cannot be quantified, I expect. We do not have very serious infestations to be sure. The aroma of the flowers is very strange, and could well be more attractive to insects than people. Buckwheat also has the benefit of growing fast, so at least two crops may be had in a season and the seed is cheap.

  2. savvygardening says:

    Wow, thanks so much, Sharon! And it’s pretty, too 🙂

  3. Niki Jabbour says:

    I also include clumps of annual flowers in my veggie garden for the pollinators and beneficials.. I love borage, sweet alyssum, gem series marigolds, zinnias, sunflowers (not the sterile cultivars), poppies and calendula. Will have to add some of your above suggestions Tara!

  4. […] While touring the Jardin le Tournesol, Quebec Citys largest and oldest community garden, last summer, I was inspired by many of the gardens that edged their property lines with flowers. For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit […]

  5. Sue Gilmore says:

    A true potager! I love all the flower ideas! I was planning on lots of nasturtium and marigolds but like the other ideas!

  6. Sarah Gardner says:

    But is there anything that will rid my yard of black flies??… Better yet, Deer flies??

    • savvygardening says:

      Sadly, no.. catmint is said to help repel deer flies, but we’re doubtful! If you try it and it works for you, let us know!

  7. […] Sometimes it’s hard to control what sneaks into your garden for a snack, but there are measures you can take to try and use other plants as a natural pest control. I mention some of them in this post here. […]

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