14 Plants That Attract Ladybugs (Plants They Love)

We are 100% reader supported. We may earn commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page. Read our disclosure.

Share this page!

Red lady beetle
When ladybugs are mentioned we often think of the “typical” lady beetle, with a red shell and black spots, but there are actually 100s of different ladybug species with a range of colors and patterns! Cécile Boulanger, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beetles in the family of Coccinellidae are called lady beetles, ladybugs, or ladybirds. With nearly 6,000 different species of ladybugs on the planet today, the diverse group contains many colors and patterns and there are at least 450 lady beetle species in the United States alone!

Typical ladybugs have red elytra, the hard shell that protects the wings and a characteristic of all beetles, with black spots, a black thorax, and a head with some white patterns. Some species, like the 22-spot lady beetle (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata), are yellow with black spots, while others, like the orange ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata), are predominantly orange with white spots. Additionally, some species, like those in the genus Exochomus, are tiny!

Despite the diversity of this group of beetles, all ladybugs share one thing in common; they love to eat smaller insects. Adult lady beetles, and their larvae consume aphids, mites, and mealy bugs throughout their lives and are commonly used for biological control of these annoying pest species.

Lady beetle eggs are usually orange and lay in clusters. After a few days, the eggs hatch into tiny alien-like and flightless larvae. In their final instar, the juvenile lady beetle pupates into an adult with wings and colorful elytra. In addition to aphids, adult ladybugs will eat pollen and nectar in plants with shallow flowers.

1) Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

Cilantro leaves
If you wish to grow cilantro you should plant it in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler. Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aphids and other pest insects are attracted to a popular herb known as cilantro. Ladybugs are then attracted to these prey species in addition to the cilantro’s flowers for their pollen and nectar. When pests attack, cilantro can release volatile organic compounds that attract ladybugs to damaged plants. Cilantro should be grown in the spring or fall during the cooler months; young plants will struggle during the summer. They need plenty of water and nutritious, well-draining soil.

Once established, cilantro plants are hardy and drought-tolerant. When stressed, cilantro can bolt, a phenomenon that results in premature blooming and seed production that can reduce the quality of an herb. Cilantro is commonly used in salads, soups, dips, and other recipes. The seeds, also known as coriander seeds, are also used in cooking.

2) Marigold (Tagetes spp.)

French marigold flowers
Marigold flowers come in a variety of shapes and colors; for example, these French marigolds have mottled, multicolored flowers. Joydeep / CC BY-SA 3.0

Ladybugs are naturally attracted to marigolds through the release of organic compounds which are released by marigolds to attract predators that defend the plant against pests. The brightly colored marigold flowers may also be attractive to ladybugs. These beautiful flowers come in various shapes and colors, usually as an orange or yellow puff-ball variety, like those seen in the African marigold (Tagetes erecta). Like French marigolds (Tagetes patula), some marigolds have mottled, multicolored flowers with a simpler arrangement. By comparison, signet marigolds (T. tenuifolia) are shorter plants with denser blooms. Marigolds are very easy to grow and should be planted in an area with full sun and well-draining soil.

3) Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill inflorescence
Dill is usually grown as an annual and thrives in zones 2 to 11. Once established, it is drought-tolerant. JLPC / CC BY-SA 3.0

Dill attracts ladybugs and draws in other natural enemies like lacewings, parasitoid wasps, as well as other pest predators. Ladybugs are attracted to dill’s small flowers, which are shallow enough to allow ladybugs access to nectar and pollen. Dill does best in zones 2 to 11 and is usually grown as an annual. Like most herbs, it is drought-tolerant once established and needs very little care. The leaves and stem are used as a spice in pickling and in other recipes as a vegetable.

4) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel umbels
Fennel simultaneously repels pests like aphids and attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs. Stefan.lefnaer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fennel is a perennial Mediterranean herb similar in appearance to dill and has identical care requirements, although the flavor profile of this herb is very different from dill. Fennel produces large, nutritious bulbs that can be roasted or included in various salads or soups. Conversely, dill is usually used as a spice. While fennel is almost entirely edible, some individuals may experience allergies associated with the plant. Despite their differences, fennel attracts ladybugs with flowering umbels while repelling pests like aphids. Nectar and pollen cannot make up a lady beetle’s entire diet, so plants that attract aphids should be planted to keep ladybugs well-fed.

5) Calendulas (Calendula spp.)

Orange calendula flower
Calendulas belong to the daisy family and have yellow or orange disk-like flowers. tato grasso, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One type of plant that attracts ladybugs and aphids is the calendula. Calendulas are daisies (family Asteraceae) with disk-like yellow or orange flowers. Their petals are sometimes dried and used as a natural remedy for dermatitis and minor skin inflammation.

Pests love Calendula, and they are fantastic trap crops as a result. A patch of calendulas will attract not only aphids but also other garden pests like thrips and whiteflies. More importantly, it attracts beneficial predators to deal with the problems. Fortunately, Calendula is notoriously easy to grow with tolerance to various soil and light conditions, although they will develop best in full sun and nutrient-rich soils.

6) Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow flowers
Yarrow’s flowers allow ladybugs to easily access nectar and pollen. Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A close cousin of fennel and dill, yarrow produces umbels with yellow, white, or even pink flowers. In addition to attracting beneficial insects, including lacewings, ladybugs, and hoverflies, yarrow is often used as a natural remedy for minor illnesses. In addition to attracting pests that ladybugs feed on, the beetles also enjoy nectar and pollen from yarrow’s vibrant and accessible flowers.

Yarrow grows best in zones 3 to 9 in sunny, hot, and dry environments. Yarrow does not tolerate constantly wet conditions. If these conditions are met, yarrow is an easy herb to grow that does not require much maintenance.

7) Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

White sweet alyssum blooms
Sweet alyssum is an easy-to-grow plant and attracts both ladybugs and lacewings with its small flowers. w0zny, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This next annual is a member of the Brassicaceae family, making it a close relative of the Brassicas, a group containing cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and other common vegetables. Sweet alyssum is known as an easy plant to grow in zones 5 to 9 and produces many clusters of small, white flowers that attract ladybeetles and lacewings. In addition, many cultivars have pink, purple, or even orange blooms. Ladybugs are attracted to the small yet beautiful flowers and feast upon the pollen and nectar provided by the plant. Sweet alyssum can be started indoors up to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Then, another round of seeds can be planted in the fall for a second growing season.

8) Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)

Milkweed aphids on tropical milkweed
Milkweed aphids (pictured) create colonies on milkweed stems where there is new growth. Juan Carlos Fonseca Mata, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Milkweeds are an essential group of colorful perennial flowers in the family Asclepiadoideae. When injured, they release a poisonous, white sap hence the common name “milkweed.” The genus Asclepias contains over 200 species, of which 73 are native to North America, and monarch butterflies commonly use 30.

To grow milkweed, plant seeds in well-draining soil at a depth of about 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) in a location with plenty of sun and space. In about a week, milkweed seedlings should germinate. Milkweeds attract a specific species of aphid, the milkweed aphid (Aphis nerii), which creates colonies on the tips of milkweed stems where the growth is new. Ladybugs and other natural enemies love these aphids and will happily eat them.

9) Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple coneflowers
Depending on the climate, purple coneflowers may produce flowers in the fall, but usually, they only bloom once a year in the summer. Rl, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Purple coneflowers are an aster species with purple flowers and petals that droop as the flower ages. There are many different coneflower cultivars with varying colors of flowers, including white, pink, and yellow. Generally, this species blooms once a year in the summer but may also produce blooms in the fall, depending on the climate. Purple coneflower blooms last for up to two months.

To grow purple coneflowers in the home garden, one should plant them in full sun. While they can survive in areas with shade, the fullest blooms will be achieved in locations with full sun. Purple coneflowers grow quickly, and after the flowerheads have been spent, the remaining seeds attract songbirds, like the American goldfinch (Spinus tristis), which eat them and are a colorful sight in the home garden. Interestingly, specially prepared Echinacea roots are used as an herbal remedy to boost the immune system.

10) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Although dandelions are often seen as a nuisance weed, they can be beneficial in moderation. Benjamin Zwittnig, CC BY 2.5 SI, via Wikimedia Commons

Dandelions may grow like a weed and be a nuisance to homeowners. Still, it has several properties that make it successful as a weed and a beneficial plant to keep around in moderation. The plant is native to the western United States and all of Canada but has been naturalized throughout nearly all of North America.

It is well known for its yellow blooms, which, when dry, are commonly used to make wishes. Dandelions have two specific species of aphid that target them, known simply as the dandelion aphid (Aphis taraxacicola) or the dandelion root aphid (Trama rara). Plenty of aphids plus vibrant and easily accessible flowers are perfect for attracting ladybugs.

11) Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)

Helianthus annus flower
Timing is key when planting sunflowers: plant them too early and they may be vulnerable to frost, plant them too late and seed development may be inhibited. Fan Wen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The sunflower is one of the most widely recognized members of the Asteraceae family. This genus contains about 70 species, including the ones regularly consumed by humans. Any local pollinators must catch their large, yellow flowers, and if grown properly, they will provide backyard gardeners with delicious sunflower seeds at the end of the growing season.

Sunflowers must be planted in areas with full sun. Additionally, they should be produced at the appropriate time of year. Planting too early may leave sunflowers vulnerable to frost, and planting too late may inhibit seed development. In addition to plenty of sun, sunflowers require plenty of water and well-drained soils.

12) Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota)

Queen Anne's lace umbel
Queen Anne’s lace produces delicate white blooms in the summer and fall. Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as wild carrot, the annual Queen Anne’s lace is a member of the umbellifer family and produces delicate white flower clusters at the top of the plant. The plant is entirely edible, although it contains the toxin falcarinol, which can be dangerous if eaten in large quantities. It attracts a variety of pests and pest predators, including aphids and their predators.

Queen Anne’s lace blooms in the fall and summer, with the ideal planting time occurring after the danger of frost has passed. Queen Anne’s lace can quickly take over a garden as a weedy plant, so measures should be taken to contain it when planted.

13) Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium)

Rattlesnake master heads
Rattlesnake master’s pinecone-like flowers can attract native butterflies, bees, and beetles. Sten Porse, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most important North American native herbs is the rattlesnake master. Its native range includes most of the eastern United States and is closely related to carrots and parsley. It produces round, pinecone-like flowers which attract native bees, beetles, and butterflies.

Growing this species is easy because the rattlesnake master is drought-tolerant and thrives in various soil types, from clay to rocky. The yuccifolium species is derived from the plant’s solid and fibrous leaves­–similar to the yucca (Yucca aloifolia)–which Native Americans used to make shoes and baskets.

14) Fall boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Fall boneset in bloom
Boneset is a native perennial that grows best in areas with full or partial sun. I, SB Johnny, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Boneset is particularly common and naturally occurs through the eastern half of the United States. This shrub possesses clusters of abundant, white flowers which appear during the fall and summer depending on local climate and species. It thrives in zones 3 to 8 in areas with full and partial sun. Since they are native perennials, this plant will return yearly and provide value as a wildlife plant. It attracts beneficial insects, pollinators, and native birds. One of the beneficial insects attracted by bonesets is ladybugs. It is also sometimes used as a medicinal herb to boost the immune system.

What Is the Difference Between “Ladybugs” & “Lady Beetles”?

Taxonomically, “bug” refers to true bugs in the order Hemiptera, which includes this leafhopper. JJ Harrison, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Both ladybug and lady beetle are common names for beetles in the family Coccinellidae that are used interchangeably. They are also sometimes called “ladybirds” or “ladybird beetles.” While there is a meaningful difference between the term “bug” and “beetle,” either term is acceptable for members of the Coccinellidae family, and there is no significant difference between their common names.

Taxonomically, “bugs” and “beetles” are very different. The term “bug” refers to insects in the order Hemiptera, which contains the true bugs which have hemelytra and piercing-sucking mouthparts. Some examples of true bugs are stinkbugs, aphids, mealybugs, and leafhoppers. “Bug” is also used colloquially to refer to almost any type of arthropod. Conversely, “beetles” are members of the order Coleoptera which contains the family Coccinellidae. These insects possess elytra and chewing mouthparts.

Attracting Ladybugs With Their Prey

Aphids on plant
Having plants in your garden that attract aphids is one way to attract ladybugs, as they feed on soft-bodied insects (including aphids). Andreas Eichler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The primary way to attract ladybugs to a garden is by providing a sense of security and ample food. Adding a diverse selection of plants will also increase biodiversity and improve the quality of your garden as a lady beetle habitat. Additionally, ladybugs eat small, soft-bodied insects (like aphids) and plant products like nectar and pollen. As a result, these food items must be present in the garden to attract ladybugs. Several plant species in this article either attract aphids or provide nectar and pollen in lady beetle-friendly flowers.

Plants infested with aphids release volatile organic compounds that draw in nearby ladybugs to provide the plant with some relief. Other chemical and visual cues are used by plants to attract ladybugs, primarily to defend them against pests. So, gardeners only need to plant the right plants and let them do the work of drawing the ladybugs. Additionally, ladybugs are susceptible to pesticides, so those should be limited in any lady beetle garden.

If natural means of attracting ladybugs to a yard are not reaching expectations, gardeners can purchase ladybugs online.

Keyla P
About the author

Keyla P

I have a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources focusing on Wildlife Ecology and a minor in Entomology. I am also an award-winning student researcher with five years of experience with wildlife-related research.

Read more about Pond Informer.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.