The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Nectary plants to attract beneficial insects

Hover flyIn the rush to produce the world's biggest pumpkin and the world's tastiest strawberries, it's easy to ignore flowers.  But flowering plants should have a prominent place in any organic garden since they attract beneficial insects.  Everyone knows that ladybugs are the cat's meow, but did you know that hover flies (also known as syrphid flies) are great aphid-eaters and that tiny parasitic wasps will eat your pest insects from the inside out?

The problem with attracting beneficial insects is that there are a dozen or more key insect players, and each one needs to be fed supplemental pollen and nectar all through the growing season.  Luckily, many plants support several different kinds of beneficial insects, especially plants like umbellifers, composites, and mints that host scores of tiny blooms.

I compiled another spreadsheet to help me keep track of all of the different nectary plants for beneficial insects, starting with the ones listed in Robert Kourik's book but expanding out to include plants listed on Farmer Fred's website.  It's clear that fennel, goldenrod, and Queen Anne's lace are top nectary plants, while ragweed appears to be as beloved by some species as it is by our honeybees.  Stay tuned for more nectary musings as I plan next year's garden.


Learn to keep bugs at bayThis post is part of our lunchtime series reviewing Robert Kourik's Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally.  Read all of the entries:





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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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