26 plants for attracting beneficial insects | Living the Country Life
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26 plants for attracting beneficial insects

A Michigan State University entomology study has found that native bees and insect predators that have access to native plants do a great job of pollinating and consuming insect pests. This can add up to lower pest control expenses and higher yields at harvest. Here are 26 plants that help attract beneficial insects.
  • Wild strawberry

    Small white blossoms open on this low-growing leafy plant. It blooms in late spring and bears small, edible strawberries. The wild strawberry is an attractive early season plant to natural enemies. It can tolerate full sun to partial shade and mid-range soil moisture. It is often found in dry, sunny places including woods and clearings.<br>Flowers will begin to grow from seeds in the second or third year. It can grow from plug material and is an easy to establish ground cover. The fact that it spreads both by runners and seed makes it a good candidate for large areas with a lot of space. Although the plant can move into agricultural fields, it is unlikely to continue to grow in cultivated soil. <br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Golden Alexanders

    Golden Alexanders are flat yellow flower clusters that open on stalks 2-3 ft tall. They are small at first, but fill in and bloom completely their third year. The plant flourishes in full to partial sun and moist soils. They can be found in areas with tamarack and poison sumac in boggy ground, fens and riverbanks in openings and thickets. Alexanders are grown both from seed or plug material.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Canada Anemone

    White flowers about 2-3 inches across bloom on the Canada Anemone. Plants fill in well in their second year of growth and grow 1-2 ft tall by their third year. The plant is tolerant of full sun to partial shade and mid-range soil moisture. It can be found on open, moist ground like shores, meadows and clearings. Plugs form and spread roots horizontally to form a carpet of plants and flowers. Seeds have shown a low success rate, but once established, Canada Anemones grow quickly and can be opportunistic.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Penstemon

    Penstemons are bell-shaped, pink or lavender and bloom in clusters on upright stalks. Flowers look like elongated snapdragons, except they are closed. They can tolerate full sun to partial shade and dry soil. They can be found in fields, prairies, stream and riverbanks and rocky ground. They are also found on open, sandy, dry ground. Penstemons are grown from sown seeds and plug material.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Angelica

    Growing over 6 feet tall, Angelicas are large, round and green with clusters. Large palmate leaves grow from a thick, reddish stem. These plants can grow in full sun or partial shade and wet soils. Angelicas naturally grow in wet areas like marshes and riverbanks. They can grow from seeds or plugs, but only bloom one per life cycle so they are difficult to maintain.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Cow parsnip

    This large, stunning species has white flowers that grow in flat clusters. Even though it can grow up to 6 feet tall, it will stay upright under most conditions. Cow parsnips can tolerate full sun to partial shade and extremely wet soil. In nature, this species can be found in damp meadows and thickets, floodplains and riverbanks. Plants grown from seeds don't have a very high success rate, but they can also grow from plugs. Although cow parsnips are not vulnerable to deer grazing, woodchucks have been known to take a bite from the plant.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Sand coreopsis

    The sand coreopsis has bright yellow, daisy-like flowers and blossoms throughout the late summer. It grows best out in the sun and in dry conditions. Sandy banks, roadsides, grasslands and bluffs are the most common areas that sand coreopsis can be found. The species can be grown from both seed and plug material and is not susceptible to animal browsing or grazing.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Shrubby cinquefoil

    Small, bright yellow flowers bloom on this shrubby plant. The shrubby cinquefoil, which has five petals, fills in well during its first season and continues to bloom through early fall. It grows under full sunlight and can bloom in dry and moist soils with alkaline. This species is usually found around lakes and streams. The shrubby cinquefoil is adaptable and tough and is not in danger of animal browsing.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Indian hemp

    Indian hemps have small, fragrant white flower clusters with oval shaped leaves. The plant grows best in full sunlight and mid-range soil moisture and can be grown from seed or plug material. It is found on riverbanks, marshes and thickets, but can also be seen in disturbed areas like roadways and railroads. Even though Indian hemp attracts many natural pest enemies, its spreading habit sometimes classifies it as a weed in perennial agricultural systems.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Late figwort

    This plant has small green and maroon flower spikes and can grow up to 6 feet tall. It blooms toward the end of the summer and grows best under the sun and with mid-range soil moisture, and like most plants it grows from seed and plug material. Late figworts are found on wet and dry land including floodplains, riverbank thickets, wood borders and along roadsides.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Swamp milkweed

    Swamp milkweed is robust with pink flower clusters that open at the top of the four-foot-tall plant. It grows in sunlight and some shade and damp soil. Wet areas are the milkweed's natural habitat, including the edges of rivers and streams, shores, ditches, swales (small valleys), meadows, prairies and fens. This plant grows well from seed and is not commonly considered an agricultural weed like common milkweed usually is.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Culver's root

    Culver's root has small, white flowers on thin, long stalks. The stalks can grow up to 5 feet tall, sometimes falling over if they don't have proper support. The plant is naturally found in fens, prairies, meadows, riverbanks and woodlands, and tolerates sun and shade with average to wet soil. Although Culver's root grows wells from seed, it is difficult to establish using direct sow methods.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Yellow Coneflower

    Yellow ray flowers stretch below dark flower centers on the yellow coneflower. Although some individual plants establish well, others have inconsistent growth patterns. Plants that do survived usually fill in completely during their second season with thin, pinnate leaves. This species is most often found under full sun in we meadows and thickets, floodplains and along riverbanks and wood borders. Deer are very attracted to the yellow coneflower and seed heads attract birds.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Nodding wild onion

    This species has nodding stalks that bear clusters of pale pink flowers and leaves that grow up to 6 inches tall. The nodding wild onion is found in meadows, grassy wooded banks and marshy ground. It can tolerate full sun and wet to dry soil moisture. The species can be established from both seed and plug material, but plugs are usually best. Nodding wild onions grown from seed are not as reliable.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Meadowsweet

    The meadowsweet is one of the more fragrant plants, yielding white flower clusters at the end of long branches. Although the shrub lengthens substantially, it will remain slim when it reaches maturity, so it looks best when planted in mass. Marshes, sedge meadows, swamps and shores are the most common homes to the plant. The seed is usually unreliable, but does establish well when plants cuttings are placed in moist soil.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Yellow giant hyssop

    Yellow flower spikes that bloom on this tall plant appear green from a distance, with only a few of the individual flowers open at one time. Like most plants, the yellow giant hyssop is located in meadows, woods and thickets. It is ideal for naturalizing in semi-shaded, moist areas.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Horsemint

    The horsemint has wide range of colors, from pale yellow with maroon spots, to white and pale pink. In the beginning of their life cycle, the plant remains small, but begins branching out during its third season. Because the species is so tolerant of dry conditions, it can found dunes and relic prairies. One problem to watch for with the plant is that some do not overwinter after their second growth season.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Missouri ironweed

    The Missouri ironweed usually grows best in wet soils, like sedge meadows and fens, but they can also be found in dry areas, like roadsides and fencerows. The plant may look odd from a distance because its striking purple flowers are feathered.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Cup Plant

    The cup plant is another species that may become too weedy for some agricultural systems. It has large yellow flowers growing atop stalks that can reach an astounding 8 feet tall. Sometimes, opposite leave become fused and form cups that fill with rain and attract frogs and butterflies, while the seed heads are attractive to some birds.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Pale Indian plantain

    Flat, off-white flower clusters are found at the top of tall pale Indian plantains. They produce large, succulent leaves that grow from one main stalk. The plant does well in both the sun and shade, and lives in soil that ranges from dry to damp. Often associated with oaks found on dunes, the species are usually found in dry areas with open or shaded ground.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Boneset

    This plant's white, flat flower clusters look plentiful when they begin to fill in. When placed in groupings, the plants teem with white at their tops. Most often, this species is found in moist habitats, including marches, wet fields, shores, and riverbanks. Grown from seeds or plugs, the boneset manages to stay safe from deer and other browsers.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Blue lobelia

    This plant's flowers grow in spikes ranging in color from blue to purple. Ample sunlight and wet soil help the species grow in ditches, thickets, swamps, floodplains and meadows. When it finds itself in an ideal location, the blue lobelia will self-seed to provide more plants with the good conditions.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Pale-leaved sunflower

    These sunflowers are bright yellow and have blooms reaching 4 inches wide. By their second year, they begin to fill in. In order to grow, these plants need sunlight and average soil moisture.<br>In nature, they can be found in a wide range of locations like oak woods, riverbanks, roadsides and prairies. Pale-leaved sunflowers may become weedy in cropping systems as it suckers every year.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Riddell's goldenrod

    Riddell's goldenrod produces clusters of small golden flowers throughout early fall and can reach heights up to 4 feet tall. The plant grows best in the sun, but can handle soil conditions at the extremes. Prairies, fens, shore meadows and shallow ground along rivers are a popular place to find the species in the wild. Animals tend to leave the plant alone, but many insects, including locust borer, gravitate to it.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • New England aster

    The month of September brings this plant's vibrant purple and pale violet blossoms. The New England aster grows anywhere from 3 feet to 5 feet tall and fills in well. The plant can grown under most conditions including full sun to partial shade and dry to fairly wet locations. It is found naturally in many areas like those with open ground, moist and wet spots, meadows, fields, shores, shrubby swamps, fens, prairies and edges of streams and rivers.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012
  • Smooth aster

    The smooth aster is a species that fills in well and has small, pale violet flowers that, less than an inch across. It grows in the sun or shade and dry or wet conditions. In nature, it can be found in thickets, woods, fields, meadows and prairies, but is rarely found in wet habitats. The species is not subject to browsing like many other plants. However, the smooth aster blooms later than most plants that attract beneficial insects.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 17, 2012

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