Did you know that by incorporating these 10 plants into your landscape, you are inviting the ever popular LadyBug to come and ‘camp out’. That’s right...camp in your backyard. You can attract these beneficial insects with:
Thyme. We all have ‘thyme’ for a garden. Some just don’t realize it.
'Thyme makes an excellent groundcover. Let it grow along your stone or foot path. It hugs the ground, is easy to grow, and durable. It will remind you it is there with it’s sweet thyme aroma if you should step off your path.'
For the chef in you, snip whenever you need it for your pork or chicken dinners. When in bloom, it is a ladybug magnet.
2. Cilantro. Cilantro is a short lived annual, it’s useful lifespan is 8 - 10 weeks. It’s fresh young leaves are aromatic and an excellent addition to so many dishes. I chop it into my fresh salsa, dash it in the cole slaw, and add zest to my salads. Some call it Chinese Parsley.
In my opinion it is a little zestier than parsley. It grows about 8-12” high. Plant it close to your kitchen. Once it flowers and goes to seed (coriander) in the summer heat, it is not as flavorful...to us. The ladybug, however, will thank you to repeat plant for future feasts.
I personally have not had much success with dill. I am not sure why. Direct seeding two weeks before the last frost, and two week successive plantings in full sun is recommended in moist, well drained soil. Dill is a tall, somewhat leggy plant that gets flat topped yellow clustered flowers in mid-summer. Ladybugs love it. The flowers go to seed and the seed and foliage is used in several culinary dishes. Soups, dips, salads, eggs, and fish are transformed with this savory herb. Pickles...did I say pickles.
Tip: It is a great companion plant for the second crop of cilantro.
4. Fennel. Fennel should NOT be planted near other herbs in the garden because the cross pollination distorts its flavor and others as well. It is grown in our zone 5 as an annual from the celery family. Mine is in full sun and fertile soil, along the back of our sitting garden. Its feathery leaves and yellow umbel flowers do a 4-5’ tall dance in the outskirts of our space.
Fennel leaves, seeds and bulbs are used in a wide variety of foods. The ladies prefer the flowers.
5. Oregano. This perennial easily grows to approx 12” tall and spreads to the sides. Planted just outside your kitchen enables an endless supply of freshness for your Italian dishes. I recommend planting it as a forethought, not an afterthought. Give it a purpose and a place to shine and it will not let you down.
If left to flower, it will stop growing...late summer. If snipped before it flowers, it will continue to thrive and can be hung for drying to hold its flavor. The flowers are spurts of lavender purple heads that draw the good bugs.
Yarrow is a personal favorite with riddles of wide flat head colors on ferny foliage. I dry flowers for wreaths and sprays, and these are fantastic for my projects. They grow up to 30” tall and the flower heads range from 3” to 7” across sometimes. The flowers are an ideal stage for the bees and other beneficial insects.
Interesting Sidenote: Yarrow mines micronutrients such as Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Lead. It is a known lead cleaner whereas it mines the lead from the soil in known contaminated places, then at the end of the season it is dug up and destroyed. Extracting the roots containing the lead. Ingenious.
7. Butterfly Weed. Asclepias. This is actually a species of milkweed. An occasional plant on a roadside is distinctly visible.
It blooms bright orange from early to late summer, and is a long time favorite in the butterfly garden. Need I say more.
8. Everyone knows the Dandelion. Yellow, multi petaled, pollen out the wazoo...On a good note, but only if you don’t use chemicals on your lawn, dandelion green salad with hot bacon dressing is awesome. Nutritious. Tasty. And incredibly good for you. It was a staple for us in the summers, growing up.
Dandelion is an easy meal for pollinators.
9. Do you know what Bugleweed is? Many mistake it for a true weed, but it is not. Ajuga reptans is a ground hugging perennial that grows great in sun or part shade, and travels by stolons. It can be invasive. You should only plant it where there is plenty of space for it to take over, because it will. I don’t recommend you put it in your beds with other plants. Under trees alone works well.
It is deer and rabbit resistant, but the purple spired flowers (other colors available from cultivated varieties) from early summer to fall make safe haven for beneficial insects such as the Ladybug.
10. Last but certainly not least, Ladybugs love the Queen Anne’s Lace. It appears everywhere and usually in abundance. Roadsides, fields, ditches, and in your gardens. It has a ferny foliage and grows 3’ - 6’ tall with many creamy white flat flower and seed heads on a branched stalk.
'Childhood memories were made around the Queen Anne’s Lace. Cutting and putting into dyed water would change the flower color. Bunches of the lacey flowers were and still are used in wedding bouquets. Picking wild strawberries amidst the lace is my fondest memory.'
What is yours?
These plants all have small flower heads or clusters of smaller flowers which the ladybugs delightfully feed on. From the early spring flowering Ajuga, to the late blooms of Thyme and Oregano, the nectar and pollen make life sustaining meals for our beneficial bugs.
You can attract these beneficial insects with: thyme, cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano, yarrow, butterfly weed, dandelion, bugleweed, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Incorporating any or all of these will greatly improve the pollination power by inviting the good bugs into your garden or back yard.