Pest-fighting flowers

When bugs find your vegetable garden and help themselves to dinner, it can make you feel helpless. Maybe you cry “uncle”, give up, and say you’ll try again next year. But with the help of pest-fighting flowers, you’ll have natural pest control, the upper hand on claiming your vegetables, and nice-looking produce.

Greg Holdsworth is a garden writer for a website called finegardening.com. He says good flowers will help you fight bad bugs in several ways.

"They attract beneficial bugs which of course then become kind of like reinforcements on your team, and they in turn will then help fight the bad bugs," says Holdsworth. "Another thing that they do, they have properties in them that will repel the bugs, either the smell, or the oils, or the flesh of the plant itself."

A well-known flower in the war chest is the marigold, especially the scented varieties such as French and Mexican marigolds. Dahlias, Lavender, Four O’Clocks, and Chrysanthemums also have properties that tend to “bug” many destructive insects.

Of course, what works in my veggie garden may not work in yours. You’ll have to experiment, but native plants are the best choice. You know they’ll do well in your garden, and beneficial insects are already used to those plants.

Holdsworth says it’s important to strategically place your fighting flowers around the plants you’re trying to protect, or integrate them.

"The advantage of the border is that you know that they’re probably not going to be getting in the area where your actual plants are," he says. "The advantage of them being integrated within your plants of course is that they’re a lot closer."

Some flowers can also be ground up and stewed in water to create a “tea” that can be sprayed on infested areas.