Written by Cliff Blackerby, Master Gardener, 2017
Ladybugs, or more properly called lady beetles, are a favorite garden visitor. They are so beloved that mothers dress their children in ladybug dresses, pajamas and Halloween costumes. Grown adults will even shop Amazon.com where they can buy 300 ladybugs for $5.99 or if you really want to increase the ladybug population in the garden at an economic price you can get 1,500 for only $7.29 plus shipping of course. These people will go out in their gardens and shake out the package of ladybugs and watch them fly—fly off to their neighbor’s yard or all over the neighborhood. These purchased ladybugs seem to travel anywhere except where you intend them to go.
Why not try an easier and much more effective solution? How about growing plants that will attract the little buggers to your garden instead?
Grow some garlic. Who doesn’t like garlic? This plant does double duty; it attracts ladybugs and repels flies and mosquitoes. A win-win! Garlic will grow well in our area and is a low maintenance plant requiring little attention once established. It’s easy to cultivate so you can grow as much as you like with minimum cost.
Geraniums are also a good attractor. They are common plants that you can find at local nurseries and even big box stores. For the last couple of years, even the Master Gardener’s spring plant sale has had a selection of geraniums. They make great plants to add beautiful color in your garden or in containers. I have several in containers now. If it weren’t raining so hard as I write this I’d go and check to see if I had any friendly visitors now.
For those of you into herbs, there are a number of plants you can choose that attract ladybugs. They include dill, cilantro, parsley, and fennel. There are even more plants in the herb family that attract ladybugs as well. Just do a little internet research and you can find herbs that will keep ladybugs in your garden instead of your neighbor’s.
It’s always good to attract beneficial insects to your gardens. Ladybugs, bees, butterflies and other helpful insects will come to your garden and, more importantly, stay if you provide them with shelter and a food source. Try some of these plants and let me know how well they attract ladybugs to your garden.
For those of you who might be looking for even more plants to attract ladybugs, I found an internet article listing 23 plants. You can look at HERE to get a more complete list.
Thanks for supporting your Montgomery County Master Gardeners.