Plant These Herbs & Veggies to Attract Beneficial Insects to Your Urban Garden

Posted on Mar 7 2012 - 1:25am by Mike Lieberman

You have insects in your urban garden…

…and are looking for practical advice and a non-chemical way to treat them.

I’m with you on that.

Some of the worst advice that I’ve received about controlling insects is to buy beneficial insects and release them into the garden.


Ladybugs have better things to do then what our urban gardens have to offer.

Instead of buying beneficial insects, grow herbs and veggies that will attract them.

Instead of buying beneficial insects, grow herbs and veggies that will attract them. — Tweet This

A Practical Solution to Attracting Beneficial Insects

Grow something that will serve two purposes. One for you to eat and one to attract the beneficial insects.

This isn’t a post of every single plant that will attract every single insect. Those aren’t useful.

It’s a post that will attract two beneficial insects that will help out most urban gardeners – ladybugs and lacewings.

Both of them will take care of aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

What You Can Plant to Attract Ladybugs & Lacewings

Here is a short list of herbs and veggies that you can eat and use to attract these good guys:

  • Coriander/Cilantro
  • Dandelion
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lady bugs will also be attracted to Marigolds

There are billion other flowers that can be planted to attract these and other beneficial insects, but want to help you really maximize your small space.

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Your Turn

Which of these plants will you start growing to attract these beneficial insects to your urban garden?

Photo courtesy of marakawalv on Flickr

  • DeaconsWife

    I like the way you think on this. It’s a waste of money when they don’t survive because they were hatched and raised under very different environment and then released to fend for themselves in an unfamiliar environment.  They often don’t survive. And to what end? Wasted life and wasted money and wasted time. Nothing frugal or environmentally responsible about any of that.

    With that said, attracting what is already in the area is the way to go. Not only do marigolds attract pollinating bees and  beneficial ladybugs, they also deter rabbits who don’t like the smell of the greenery, and they also repel mosquitoes.  I have a slightly raised bed that is bordered with  cinder blocks with the holes turned up and filled with soil. I plant the marigolds in those holes.  They love the lime leached from the blocks and for the most part the rabbits get as far as that border and don’t seem interested in crossing it.  I usually plant the miniture dwarf mix type so they don’t become root bound in the holes.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Good stuff. Love it.

  • Mary C.

    we’ve already got marigolds, and we’ve had three shrubs-Clerodendrum ugandense, that are also popular with the ladies. Going to be planting cilantro soon :)

  • Crystalatlarge

    Wow. I am so going to try that this year. I have relocated to a northern area over run with wild rabbits and was looking at ways to deter tham. In the past I have used marigolds to attract bees and put off mosquitos. I did not know that they could do so much more!! Thank you for the post.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Popular with the ladies. That makes me laugh.

  • Vwacker

    I have two flats of marigolds growing under lights in my basement.  I always plant them in the vegetable area of my garden but did not realize they attracted the lady bugs.  And, maybe I will tolerate those “pesky” little dandelions that pop up here and there.  I remember eating dandelions when I was a kid but haven’t eaten them for years.

  • Michele Galzot

    Sorry very much for my bad writting,I post from France
    Using ladubugs,sure it’s one of the best way to keep your vegetable clean.But be very carefully to use ladybuds from your country.Here in France whee use 
    this way about long years ago, but as many people whant to use it,a big mistake was done,as using Asian ladybuds and now the French type is disappearing .Sometimes instead of doing well we do worth and change the biotope.

  • Rosie

    Cilantro. Thank you so much for the info I am a new gardner . So excited!!!

  • Natalie Ward

    I don’t know about ladybugs, but oregano is SUPER for attracting dozens of species of bee!

  • Deanna D.

    We love cilantro (makes great homemade salsa) so will definitely be planting that (and the seeds can be ground up for coriander)!  I’m also going to try my hand at a LITTLE dill this year.  My family (except me) loves dill pickles…so this might be the year for those…  My mother never could explain why she plants marigolds in the vegetable garden…this might be a reason why.  I think they stink really bad…but I might plant some of those, too.  I have the seeds…

  • Ann

    Planting all of them!

  • Essential Bread

    Just finishing up a couple hugelkultur beds with an aim to plant them in dandelions. This news is an added bonus, thanks!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Eat that dandelion. Very good for your liver.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thank you for taking action.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Get it!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Marigolds work wonders in the garden ;-0

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Mike Lieberman

    As you should be 😉

  • Mike Lieberman

    Good point. Thanks for sharing.

  • JayneMim

    I once tried to grow dill from seed, and now I can’t get rid of it!! I planted some in my square foot garden (table height) and this past year I got nematodes in it!!! Carrots were all mangled. So, I guess dill doesn’t keep the nematodes out. I wonder what would work besides solarizing the area? Naturtiums are also great companions to many vegetables….

  • Kimhutcheson


  • Mike Lieberman

    Nasturtiums are great.

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Ben Masters

     marigolds seem to work

  • John Eustor

    I remember seeing Dill, Fennel and Cilantro plants all over my family’s farm in southern Italy. Now I know why…thank you..very informative post

  • Jenn

    I love your stuff. Wish you were in Austin. I’m transforming my backyard into a natural landscape. The winter was warm and sort of wet and now I have so many dandylions. I’m starting to plant cover crops to change my clay soil into something that will support native plants. It’s a jungle out there right now. Puller up a TON of dandylions today. So many more to go/

  • Mike Lieberman

    Eat that dandelion!

  • Mike Lieberman

    My pleasure.

  • Dixied35

    From what I’ve read and experienced, carrots do not like dill anywhere near them!  However, tomatoes LOVE dill – we had 5 tomato plants last year with dill planted all around them and never had ANY kind of insect go near them.  BTW, I don’t know what a nematode is?!

  • Mike Lieberman

    What’s that?

  • Dawn

    Mom & I would plant marigolds around our roses and that got rid of the aphids, seems they don’t like marigolds. Planting dill with tomatoes seems to attract the bugs to the dill leaving the tomatoes alone to grow without being pestered. Sometimes you have to make a little sacrafice for the bigger picture or in this case, the tomato.

  • Mike Lieberman

    The sacrificial dill.

  • Mhairi Williams

    I had Fennel but it got infested with earwigs.. so I would try dandelion first since it is easy but wont let it go to seed..and Marigolds.. It is amazing how many people dont know what a baby Ladybug looks like and mistake them as a bad bug.. can you please post a pic of them.. they are totally different in looks

  • Dove

    Dill & Dandelion

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Dixied35

    I planted lots of dill last year along my tomatoes, zucchini and kale plants and had great luck even though I never saw a ladybug near them.  I also planted Marigolds all over the place. The gardens thrived ’till the end, when they got powdery mildew on a lot of plants. I believe it was because they were all too close together and didn’t get enough oxygen but I could be wrong – any ideas? We also have a grape arbor that was a total loss due to some kind of fungus. The stuff offered by your sponsor sounds great but we’d need too many kinds and we can’t afford that. I love your website better than all the other gardening sites (having been born and raised in The Bronx, I’m more of an ‘urban’ gardener type even though we have more space to grow stuff now that we live in the ‘sticks’ :)
    BTW, We are infested with ladybugs in our house all winter long…then, come spring, they all up and leave.  My son hates dandelions so he mows them all down – LOL!

  • Mike Lieberman

    What do you mean that you need too many different kinds?

  • Panchoman54

    dude you are a freakin loser, you look like a ghetto retard who gardens because thats the only hobby his mommy let him do, and now you tried to make it “badass”

  • jmulvey

    cilantro and dill.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Appreciate the well thought out comment.

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Karen

    I’ve planted some marigolds, but am thinking of dill and fennel.

  • Patty Coyne

    If you don’t like it why are you reading this?

  • Hilmcleod

    Already have cilantro in my mini hoop tunnel, dill along my side path, and fennel and marigolds are on my shopping list.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Me too!

  • Mary W. Lukens Goodson

    All of the above!

  • Mike Lieberman


  • Anna Crystal11

    Immensely excited I ran across your informational chattings!  Planting a garden as soon as the weather stops interfering.  Definitely going to start some seeds early now.  So much more inexpensive than plants!  I love bugs, they are a part of nature, and sharing my garden with them is a pleasure.  Will definitely be planting herbs as well. Do I segregate them, or spread and mix them all around?  I am a mixer by nature.  lol

  • Anna Crystal11

    Immensely excited I ran across your informational chattings!  Planting a garden as soon as the weather stops interfering.  Definitely going to start some seeds early now.  So much more inexpensive than plants!  I love bugs, they are a part of nature, and sharing my garden with them is a pleasure.  Will definitely be planting herbs as well. Do I segregate them, or spread and mix them all around?  I am a mixer by nature.  lol

  • Mike Lieberman

    Spread em!

  • PatrickMonkRn

    Got infested over the winter. Waiting to see if beneficial nematodes will help. Any other suggestions.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I’ve heard that the sleeves used for coffee cups help with them.

  • applecora

    They should.  They practically eliminated the problem for me.  On the downside, though, they are a bit pricy and don’t overwinter in my part of the country (Zone 5).  You can also inject them into cucurbit vines to fight squash vine borers.

  • lucksue

    People in our area ( NW Wisconsin) like ladybugs, but hate the “Asian Beetles” (I think because there are soooooo many of them. BUT, aren’t the beetles doing the same good the ladybugs are doing in our gardens?

  • luckysue

    People love ladybugs in our area (NW Wisconsin), but hate the “Asian Beetles” that look so much like the ladybugs. Aren’t the beetles doing the same good for our gardens?

  • Lydia

    Thanks for the great Lady Bug info! I have marigolds, cilantro, and dill. Will add fennel.

  • sblue

    Thanks so much…marigolds are the way to go! :)

  • Pattie

    It’s the middle of April, I’m in zone 7b. Is it too late to plant carrots and beets?

  • larueb