Beneficial attractive plants

woohoomanFebruary 15, 2013

I know I don't do the whole "companion" thing that much due to space, water issues, and laziness. So, can somebody give me a list of some no-brainers to plant which might control the pests that plague the crops I grow? Maybe in a small area off to the side yard(maybe in a partially shaded 4'X4' area) or in small pots that can be moved around.

Pests that I notice: Aphids, whiteflies, hornworms, cabbage worms(loopers), earwigs, slugs, grasshoppers, leafminers, and I'm sure many others like mites that I just can't(too small to see) or don't see doing damage.

Preferences are drought tolerance and perennial, but not necessarily mandatory..



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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

wouldnt you be just as likely to attract them 'to' your garden.. from elsewhere..

as compared to attracting them from one area of your yard to the other ...

i never understood JBeetle lures.. why in the heck was i luring them from the whole neighborhood TO MY YARD ...

that is when i started giving them to neighbors as gifts.. to protect their garden.. lol.. all of a sudden my yard didnt have any???


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:12PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Kevin, please make something clear to me. Are you under the impression that there are plants that repel pest insects? Or what are your goals?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:56PM
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rhizo1: I've heard that onions and garlic repel aphids, for example.

I'm not adverse to that thinking, but I'm not sure which way to go.

For example, I can put a pot of garlic shoots next to my tomatoes to repel aphids or I can grow some plants that will ATTRACT ladybugs et al to munch on them.

All I know is my soil doesn't seem to be totally healthy even after I add copious amounts of compost 1-2 times a year. Don't get me wrong, I get some nice veggies, but I always seem to be fighting the above mentioned bugs and/or the diseases that may accompany them.

kimmsr says that I should have 5 worms per shovelful-- I don't. Should I BUY some? Should i be sprinkling cornmeal to propagate them like some people do with vermicomposting?

Anyhow, back to the pest...

I know the basics:

1) Healthy soil, healthy plants(One thing I try to be proactive with)

2) Target specific pests with organic cides such as BT(pretty successful last year when I used it from from day1 exery 2 weeks whether I saw any hornworms or not), neem oil, hort oil, sulfur dust, DE, and insecticidal soap.

3) Rotate crops(somehow with my very limited space, I do manage a 3 year on every FAMILY of veggies that I grow.

4) Grow plants to attract beneficials such as ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, etc. That may keep the PEST populations down. (I'm still not convinced about ants being a beneficial since they protect sucking insects like aphids and whiteflies that don't do a whole lot of foliar damage but carry disease and fungi that cause disease).

My goal -- Let nature help me fight the fight without taking up TOO much space and water(SoCal water is expensive).

I'd like to grow a veggie plant besides lettuce and onions that's blemish free( that includes aphid eggs) at maturity -- LOL



    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:03PM
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I don't get what you're saying-- I'd have a hard time getting my neighbors to grow the veggies I grow in order to attract the bad guys AWAY from my garden.

Isn't growing ATTRACTANT plants part of the IPM train of thought?


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:16PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Generally, the pests themselves do a good job of attracting the control species. If your garden is a diverse one, the ladybugs, etc. will come.

I honestly don't know of any plant that will repel the pests when planted near the desireable plants. Some report success by spraying their garden with a concoction of chopped up garlic and other ingredients.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 5:42PM
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Well, then I don't have a "diverse" garden. Basically, it's for eating--- veggies, a couple citrus and a few herbs. Along with a couple ornamentals/roses. I just hate to use up valuable space growing something I can't eat.

So, help me out. I apparently need a more diverse garden.



    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:04PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i read your post.. to say you wanted to plant a 4 x 4 area.. with plants.. that lure things away from your other 'good' plants ..

i suggested that it was just as likely to lure bad things INTO your garden.. as luring them away from your patch ... its not a one way street ...

and then i gave an example ...

the premise is faulty.. in my world ...

you ID a pest.. and you react..

what you are thinking about.. is called IPM = integrated pest management ...

google that.. and you will be in the right ballpark.. or garden.. lol ..


ps: BTW.. slightly marred produce.. is normal ... its only 'perfect' .. when grow commercially with chemicals ... perhaps.. if you just came to understand.. that it doesnt have to be perfect pretty.. the bugs wouldnt bother you so much ... a zen attitude.. if you will ...

pps: i am just getting over the col of the century.. i am not surprised.. my prior reply didnt make much sense.. lol ...

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Oh, so THAT'S your excuse, ken? Lolol Hope you're feeling better, my friend.

Kevin, if you add some colorful annuals like zinnias and marigolds, you'll attract all kinds of butterflies and skippers. That will make you happy.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:39PM
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No... you guys are misunderstanding me. I want to grow plants that attract predatory insects so when the bad guys show up, they're here ready to munch.

For example, I've read that you want to keep umbrella flowering plants such as cilantro, carrots, dill, allysum, etc. to attract parasitic wasps to give them some nectar until they can propagate their eggs into hornworms. I'm not looking to grow plants that attract pests away from my veggies. You're right ken -- that sounds counterproductive.

rhizo: I'm not looking to attract "pretty" butterflies and moths. Wouldn't some just want to lay their eggs around my maters and peppers?


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:57PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sorry, I was assuming that you had done the research on plants that attract predators and parasitoids....but rejected them due to the space they take up or their water requirements. I've been thinking that you wanted plants that repel.

There are scads of websites, good ones, that list a very large assortment of good plants to choose from. I'd be very happy to post links for you, but am handicapped by my lack of saavy with how to get the most use from my Kindle...which is how I am communicating these days. :-(

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 6:30AM
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To attract those beneficial insects you will need a variety of plants that are great pollen producers and that the insects can feed on. That would include some of those like Queen Annes Lace, umbelifer blossoms, as well as others.
Perhaps this article from Fine Gardening magazine will be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: About insecteries

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 7:41AM
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