These edible & medicinal plants that attract ladybugs will pull double duty — bringing hungry ladybugs to devour garden pests and add herbs to your kitchen and apothecary!
Gently blow a ladybug off your finger and make a wish.
I wish for a happy healthy garden, abundant in lovely flowers and overflowing with food and medicine.
I also wish to do so while limiting back breaking labor and using toxic chemicals.
Look no further than mother nature when you desire to achieve health and balance in your landscape. While garden pests are natural, an over population of any one insect is not — leaving your landscape unpleasant and your food crops beleaguered. In lieu of harsh pesticides, many of us opt instead to use more natural means of gaining the upper hand in the landscape. Did you know that the native ladybug (Hippodamia convergens) can consume up to 5000 aphids and other garden pests such as mites, white flies, thrips, moth eggs, scale bugs, small caterpillars, and leaf beetle larvae? Surely, we can introduce predators such as ladybugs and preying mantises, but the real key is to create a hospitable and attractive landscape to host these garden allies!
Medicinal & Edible Plants that Attract Ladybugs
- Calendula: A favorite of the home apothecary, bright sunny calendula is attractive to ladybugs with its bright yellow and orange blooms! Plant calendula in full soil in well drained soils. Pick blossoms frequently to encourage repeat bloom.
- Cilantro: They say you either love or hate cilantro, and ladybugs LOVE the stuff! Cilantro is tolerant of full sun to light shade, and is quick to bolt in hot weather — making an plant that attracts ladybugs.
- Dill: Not just for pickles, lady bugs are partial to fragrant dill. Give dill lots of room to grow and share a harvest of flowers, seeds and dill fronds with put favorite garden predator!
- Fennel: Some say that fennel retards the growth of nearby plants, but I have yet to find this to be the case myself . But just to be sure, it might be wise to give anise-y fennel a wide berth on the garden.
- Feverfew: As the name implies, feverfew can be used to fight fevers, as well as migraines and arthritic pain, but ladybugs love its daisy-like blooms too! Feverfew is an outstanding companion plant, so plant it liberally in sunny gardens.
- Garlic: If you miss the window to cut the scapes that ensure robust and pungent garlic cloves, do not worry! Your ladybugs friends will still enjoy the tall wands topped with a frothy pom of tiny blooms!
- Milkweed: A favorite of monarchs, milkweed comes in shades of oranges, rose and purple. It also is a happy lady place for our red and black spotted friends.
- Queen Anne’s Lace: I am a sucker for graceful drifts of wild Queen Anne’s Lace. As it turns out, ladybugs love this drought tolerant wildflower too!
- Yarrow: I say it time and time again, no home apothecary is complete without yarrow. And no garden is either. Its feathery foliage and blooms ranging from white to pink to all the colors of the most vibrant sunset, yarrow is a happy resting spot for hungry ladybugs!
How to Buy & Release Lady Bugs
When buying ladybugs and introducing them into you landscape, there are important factors that you should consider:
- Always make sure that you are ordering H. convergens (identified by the white dots in front of their wings), not Asian ladybugs Harmonia axyridis – they bite!
- Always release your ladybugs near a source of nectar and pollen such as the plants above
- Ensure that there is a source of water — in some form — nearby. This can be dew or water collected on leaves.
- Ladybugs can’t fly if the temperature is under 55F, so make sure to release your pretty predators on a warm, sunny day!