Flower Power: 5 Plants For Pest Control
We’re all aware of how crucial flowers are in bringing pollinators into the garden. The abundant harvests that we spend all winter dreaming of–dark, shiny cucumbers and handfuls of fat bicolored beans just wouldn’t be possible without the birds and the bees.
But some flowers, like marigolds, are just as effective at keeping the bad bugs away as they are at bringing the good ones in. If their beauty isn’t enough to sell you on growing flowers this year, then their status as excellent vegetable companions will!
Treasured across culture and time, marigolds are a striking asset to every garden. Those bright hues of yellow, orange, and red make a statement in the field and in the vase. And that unique smell that only marigolds have? It somehow works to repel cabbage worms, nematodes, and even mosquitos!
Intercrop marigolds with heat-loving vegetables like tomatoes and cool-season brassicas. Ladybugs and other beneficial insects are drawn to marigolds, so edge your garden with these low-maintenance plants to keep aphid infestations under control.
Nasturtiums don’t need to have a purpose other than beauty to deserve space in your garden, but these pretty blooms are edible too! Slightly spicy, nasturtium blooms are a lovely garnish for salads.
Protect your vegetables by planting a sacrificial patch of nasturtiums. The foliage provides habitat for aphid populations but the plants aren’t damaged in the process, because nasturtiums can better withstand these pests than your vegetable crops. Even cabbage worms would rather lay their eggs on nasturtium plants, providing the gardener a window in which to remove the affected plants and the pests with it.
These sprawling plants are an excellent choice for ground cover too. Planting nasturtiums near cucumbers and squash may help keep beetles and bugs at bay. Bees and hummingbirds are drawn to nasturtium flowers, and who doesn’t want to see either flitting around the garden?
Mums aren’t just meant for homecoming. These hardy fall flowers hold a wealth of benefit for your garden, too.
These regal blooms contain a natural insecticide that repels everything from ants and cockroaches to Japanese beetles and spider mites! Mums even repel ticks, so edge your planting space with mums to protect yourself, your children, and the health of your plants.
Pick a few of those chrysanthemum blooms and make your own, all-natural pesticide: Simply soak mum flowers in hot water, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, and strain the flower petals out of the liquid with cheesecloth. Now, you can mist your plants with the solution. Alternatively, dry the flowers and blend them into a powder that you can dust around your garden.
Petunias, the humble but beautiful bloomer, is a workhorse in the garden. Plant petunias beside your brassicas, nightshades, and legumes–there’s really no vegetable crop that won’t benefit from being planted near a petunia, as these petite flowers repel leafhoppers, hornworms, squash bugs, and aphids.
You might consider only planting petunias in your garden if the space is fenced in, however. Petunias deter some pests but they do attract a few others–like deer, rabbits, and other rodents.
Geraniums are fascinating plants. The brightly-colored flowers come atop fragrant leaves reminiscent of everything from fruit to mint to culinary spices. These plants thrive in containers, so keep them potted up or in hanging baskets. If you do plant geraniums outside, dig them up and bring them inside for the winter so you can enjoy the tender perennial next season.
There’s even a variety of geranium called “Mosquito Plant” that does, in fact, repel mosquitoes and other bugs with its sweet citrusy scent.
Many flowering plants are just as effective at repelling insects as they are at attracting them. If you’re not already companion-planting these five flowers with your vegetables then plan on it this growing season. Go ahead and stock up on seeds, because once you see the difference that intercropping your vegetables with these flowers makes, you’ll never go back!