Growing Herbs & Attracting Beneficial Insects

by Greenthumb on May 7, 2011

Butterfly Loving the Echinacea

Butterfly Loving the Echinacea

Attracting beneficial bugs to your vegetable or herb garden is probably more important than you think!

If you are growing veggies, or fruits you need pollinators!  Beneficial bugs -or pollinators- are responsible for pollinating the flowers on your plants. This in turn allows the plant to product the vegetable, fruit, or seed you are after.

In other words, a cucumber can’t become a cucumber until the flower on the vine has been pollinated. Neither can a tomato blossom become a tomato, or a blueberry flower become a blueberry.

Unless you plan to hand pollinate each flower with a small paint brush or cotton swab, attracting beneficial insects to your garden is the way to go! Fortunately this is pretty easy.

Pollinators don’t do their jobs out of kindness. They come for the food!

This is extra important for urban gardeners to remember! In the city there is often little for pollinators to feed on, so you need to provide them with some tasty ‘bug chow’ if you want them to come and pollinate your plants.

Herbs to the rescue!

Dill Weed

Dill

Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram and Rosemary all attract pollinators to their blooms. While they are visiting those plants, they’ll stop in and visit your other plants,too!

Many flowering herbs like Echinacea, and Yarrow, and Hyssop are ‘good bug’ magnets and herbs like fennel, dill and parsley are hugely attractive to all kinds of pollinators.

I’m not talking about your average pollinating honey bee, either. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes! You may see both big and little wasps, all sorts of bees, and even certain flies will happily pollinate your stuff! The ones I get here are shiny metallic blue pollinator flies and they go berserk for my mints!

Yarrow

Yarrow

How do you keep your pollinators happy?

First off, don’t SPRAY your plants for bugs!

They can’t do their job if you kill them. Seems basic, but people do this. Really.

Fennel-in-Container

Fennel

You also might want to give your beneficial bugs a drink. A small plant tray filled with pebbles and water set around potted plants or in the garden will provide small insects a place to get a drink after a long flight!

Watering Tray for Beneficial Insets

Good Bug Watering Hole

.

Did you enjoy this? Then sign up for the herb gardening class! It’s FREE you know ;)

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris McLaughlin July 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Good post! The blue flies you’re seeing may be Blue Mason Bees! Of course there are many pollinating flies but I thought I’d share that in case you’ve not heard of them before.

http://asuburbanfarmer.com/blog/2010/12/31/my-blue-mason-bees-have-arrived/

Reply

Greenthumb July 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Hi Chris! We do have Mason Bees and lots of other pollinators buzzing around. I think these are probably just some pretty blow fly relative! :-)

Reply

Gardening Jones May 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I never thought of herbs to attract bubs- what a great way to use them. Love the ‘watering hole’ -will definatley make one, thanks!

Reply

Greenthumb May 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

So many people don’t know they will attract the good guys- plus you can eat them!
I have those ‘watering holes’ scattered around the garden- I love watching butterflies and bees drink from them. The pebbles keep the little bitty guys from falling in and drowning!

Reply

paul ynot May 8, 2011 at 3:50 am

I have never heard of gardeners putting in insect barth or drinkers . This seems to be a unusual concept. … Oh well I will give it a trial to see what happens ? ? ? from Australia

Reply

Greenthumb May 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hi Paul, the little trays filled with pebbles and water allows all the ‘good bugs’ to stand on the pebbles and get a drink without drowning. Since some of them travel long distances (honey bees will travel 2 or more miles for pollen), they appreciate a nice drink. It’s also fun to see butterflies drinking with their long tongues :-)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: