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6/21/2011 12:00

Contact: Margret
(860) 496-9624 x6220

Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden
White Flower Farm provides helpful tips

Insects play important roles in the success of your garden. While some of these 6-legged critters are indisputable pests of ornamental and edible plants, others offer significant benefits. White Flower Farm ( has some sound advice on how to attract the beneficial bugs.

According to the gardeners at White Flower Farm, honeybees, mason bees, and solitary bees are essential pollinators for squash, melons, apples, cherries, and many other fruit and vegetable crops. Ladybugs, assassin bugs, praying mantis, and lacewings, as well as certain species of mites and nematodes, are examples of predators -- they eat the insects and mites that feed on our plants, helping keep pest populations under control. A third type of beneficial insect is the parasite -- Tachinid flies and Trichogramma wasps are good examples. These insects often lay their eggs in the eggs or bodies of a pest; when the parasite's eggs hatch, the young use the pest for food.

White Flower Farm says there are several ways to encourage beneficial insects -- perhaps the most important is to limit the use of pesticides in your garden. Broad-spectrum pesticides can wipe out predator populations, leaving your garden plants susceptible to the next attack of pests. If you must use pesticides, look for selective types that are aimed at your specific pest.

Also, provide a source of water for your beneficials -- a shallow bowl filled with pebbles and water works well. Using mulch around your plants will keep the soil moist, prevent weeds, and provide cover for your beneficials.

Another important measure for attracting and keeping beneficials in your garden is to grow plants that will nourish them when pest populations are low. Most predators and parasites feed on plant pollen and nectar when pests are not abundant. To ensure a steady supply of pollen and nectar, select plants that will flower throughout the growing season. The following is a partial list of plants that attract and support beneficials:

  • Bugleweed (Ajuga)
  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  • Cosmos
  • Dill
  • Evening Primrose (Oenothera)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Lupine (Lupinus)
  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa caucasica)
  • Thrift (Armeria maritima)
  • Yarrow (Achillea)
  • Zinnia

Visit and click on Gardening Help for further information about gardening for wildlife. Some of the Tips you'll find include: Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden, Butterfly Flowers and Host Plants for their Larvae, Deer-Resistant Plants, Native Plants - Frequently Asked Questions, and the Pollinator Garden.

SAVE THE DATE! White Flower Farm's annual Open House is scheduled for Saturday, June 25. Stroll through the Begonia House and enjoy the eye-popping blooms of Blackmore and Langdon varieties, or join our head gardener for a guided tour of the display gardens at 1:30 p.m. Staff and family will welcome old and new friends and serve iced tea and cucumber sandwiches on the lawn, starting at 2:30 p.m. It's also the occasion for the annual Best Garden Chapeau contest, which is judged by White Flower Farm family members on an entirely subjective basis. The prize is a $100 White Flower Farm gift certificate plus a year's worth of bragging rights and an appearance on their Web site, value beyond measure. Shop for choice items at our Plant Sale, too, which runs from Friday to Saturday, June 24-25, 9 to 5:00 p.m.

Click here for directions:

Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts. Barb is also available for interviews upon request.

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White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit, where you will also find helpful gardening information including a how-to video library. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.

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