How To Attract Beneficial Insects To Your Florida Garden

When I was designing my garden I wanted to attract beneficial insects. I wondered what I could plant (in Florida) that would bring good bugs into my garden. So I did a little research and found some flowers and things that thrive here in the sunshine state but also benefit the bees, wasps, dragonflies, ladybugs and other helpful insects.

What can I do to attract beneficial insects to my garden? The best way to attract good bugs into your garden is to have lots of plant diversity. A large majority of bugs are actually beneficial to us, less than 1% of all bugs can be considered a pest. By having lots of diversity in your garden you are giving bugs a home and a food source. If you have a pest problem that requires immediate attention you can always buy predator bugs and release them in the garden. however, this is a temporary fix. 

When I think of beneficial insects I instantly think of pollinators, like bees. But there are plenty of other fantastic bugs for the garden. Some bugs eat other bugs and some bugs help you build rich, dark garden soil.

Beneficial insects pollinate your garden and prey on pests. Plant diversity is the key to attracting bugs. You can buy them. Beneficials need nectar, pollen and habitat.

Attract Beneficial Insects To Your Florida Garden

The best way to attract helpful bugs, is to plant all  sorts of plants. The more diversity you have in your garden the better off you are.

This doesn’t mean leave weeds to grow.

This means that you should maximize your space with purposefully chosen beneficial plants.  Bugs, like us need homes and food. The more we provide the more there will be.

Each plant has made the list as benficial plants because they attract bugs and work well with other plants that may be in the garden.

  • Basil 
  • Blanket flower
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Marigolds
  • Milkweed
  • Nasturtium

All of these plants are beneficial to us in Florida especially because they love our climate so they need little care. In other words, they provide the least input with huge output. Some of these plants not only bring beneficial insects but they can act as food for you as well.



I’ve found basil super easy to grow, I started some from seed two years ago and I haven’t planted again. It keeps popping up without me even trying. I let my plants go to seed the first year and then I just gave them a good shake as I cut them out of the garden. I hardly care for my basil, I would say this is one of the easiest beneficial plants to grow in the garden. It attracts dragonflies, wasps and plenty of other flying predators.

Florida friendly varieties: Greek Column-Lesbos, Dwarf Greek Basil. Spicy Globe, Marseillaise Dwarf.

Blanket Flower


Also known as Gaillardia, it has bright bright flowers that are usually red and yellow. They are fantastic at attracting pollinators. It’s a native to Florida and can withstand just about any soil type. You can use it as a ground cover to also help retain moisture in the garden.



Cilantro is actually related to carrots, they are in the same family. Cilantro attracts wasps and hover flies. Two great beneficial insects in the garden. It tolerates light frost and can be grown in warmer weather. however the longer and hotter the days the quicker the plant will bolt. This makes the plant bitter. This is no big deal to the bugs, but you probably won’t like the taste of it anymore.

Florida friendly varieties: Slow Bolt, Leisure, Costa Rica, California,Lemon, Delfino, Moroccan.  



Dill is a very strong aromatic plant, it repels aphids and mites. It attracts swallowtail butterflies, wasps and honeybees. The best time to plant is our “fall time”. In Florida thats between September and December. Dill doesn’t transplant well, it’s best to buy seeds. Like basil dill is quick to ressed itself.



You probably see these guys everywhere. It’s because they are easy to grow. They are constantly flowering and attract pollinators and other beneficial flying insects. Marigolds can be used as a border to your garden or packed tight and used as a ground cover. You can find them in almost any garden center. There is a debate about if marigolds are helpful or harmful to your garden. While I have read that they attract slugs and other pests to your garden, I haven’t really had a major issue wheneever I plant them. Florida soil usually has nematodes in it and marigolds repel them, making this plant especially helpful for Florida gardening.



Another plant that loves Florida’s weather and is hard to kill. They famous for attracting monarch butterflies but their orange flowers are also a great nectar plant for bees and other flying insects. You can find them in most nurseries and they are a great addition to your garden. The whole plant is full of a milky sap which is how it gets it’s name. There are actually a lot of kinds of milkweed but there are two that are commonly grown in Florida.

Florida friendly varieties: Butterfly weed, Tropical weed


Are great because they not only attract bugs with their nice flowers but they also grow big green leaves that are edible. The plant also produces seed pods and flowers that we can eat too.  Native to South America, they die back during a freeze but they They can be grown year round in most parts of Florida. They do well against pests not having many natural predators. There are vining types and dwarf bush types. These are great for growing up a chain link fence for privacy or using as a ground cover in the garden. both can be found commonly called garden nasturtiums but the vining type’s scientific name is T. majus and the dwarf bush type is T. minus.

What Insects Are Beneficial In The Garden?

Beneficial insects pollinate your garden and eat your garden pests for dinner.

Most people think bugs are “icky” Ew.

Bugs are wild.

Alien like even. Antenna, legs, weird eyeballs. When you think about them they are pretty weird but a large majority of them are really helpful to us in the garden. only 1% of bugs are actually pests,. Just playing the odds game, the more bugs that you have in your garden the better.

  • Bees 
  • Butterfly 
  • Dragonfly 
  • Hoverflies
  • Lady bugs
  • Lacewings
  • Beetles
  • Spiders
  • Centipedes
  • Wasps


Bees are a pollinator. They fly around your garden spreading plant pollen all over the place. Pollinators help your garden produce more fruit. Bees are probably the most popular pollinator but there are many others.


Another pollinator that will help you boost your food production.


Dragonflies are predator bugs. They like to hang out in taller growing plants and watch for other flying bugs that they can chase and devour while flying. They aren’t picky eaters and will eat just about anything. Some of them are even cannibals. Dragonflies eating dragonflies. however,dragonflies are also preyed upon by frogs and birds, which also benefit your garden.


They look like little bees that are really fast. They won’t harm you though. They benefit your garden by laying eggs, usually on the undersides of your plants leaves. When those eggs hatch, out come little caterpillars which eat aphids and other soft bodied bugs.

Lady Bugs

Another predator that looks super cute to us. Ask any aphid, thrip or white fly if lady bugs are cute and they will look at you like you’re crazy. To them lady bugs are monsters. Lady bugs are a fantastic predator to have in the garden. Ladybugs will prey on a number of other soft bodied insects.


The adult form of a lacewing is green and slender. It has veined clear wings and golden eyes. The adult flie form doesn’t really eat any bugs on your plant but as larvae they are great. Like the lady bug they will eat almost any soft bodeid insect. Things like aphids, mites, and thrips.


There are all sorts of beetles that can be living in your garden, some on your plants and others in the dirt.

Ground beetles are nocturnal beetles that live in your soil. They are helpful by not only eating other bugs in the garden but they are also helping you build soill. They help with aeration by crawling through your dirt. Ground beetles also have to use the bathroom, so all of their waste becomes great fertilizer for your garden.

Soldier beetles hang out on your plants eating caterpillars and soft bodied insects like aphids.


There are a lot of different kinds of spiders. They are mostly all predators. These thigns give me the creeps, I don’t really like spiders but I respect them in the garden. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend being a capturing the random spiders in the house to release them there would be a lot more dead spiders in this world. Most spiders are not harmful to humans but there are definitely some that can be significantly harmful to you.


Are another predator of many harmful insects in the garden. They also can be found living in your soil  but coming out to prey. Like the ground beetle they benefit your soil by aeration and  fertilization.


Wasps are a double whammy.  They not only land on your flowers to help you pollinate but they prey on lots of things. Parasitic wasps will actually lay eggs in caterpillars like the tomato horn worm. It looks like something out of a movie. As the eggs grow, they use the host caterpillar to feed on, eventually killing it.

what plants attract what bugs

  • Basil : Wasps, Bees, and Dragonflies
  • Blanket flower: Wasps, Bees, Beetles and Butterflies
  • Cilantro : Wasps and hoverflies. Also repels aphids and spider mites.
  • Dill : Wasps and hoverflies. Also repels aphids and spider mites. 
  • Marigolds : Bees and butterflies. Also repels nematodes.
  • Milkweed : Butterflies, 
  • Nasturtium : Bees, Wasps. Also repels aphids, whiteflies, cabbage loopers and stink bugs. 

Some plants not only attract beneficial insects but they also repel harmful ones.

Nasturtium is a particularly helpful one in the garden. It attracts lots of pollinators with it’s beautiful (and edible) flowers but it also repels lots of bugs we consider pestss from not only itself, but other plant surrounding plants too.

Out of all of these plants I have found milkweed and basil to be the easiest to grow. I haven’t even planted basil in 2 years and it just keeps popping back up.

Can I Spray These Plants With Pesticides?

Sure you can.


You wouldn’t want to.

Pesticides damage both harmful and helpful insects in the garden. There are certain sprays that only target a select creature.

For instance, B.t. only kills caterpillars. But some caterpillars are good for the garden.

Even organic and “all-natural” sprays harm beneficial insects too. The whole point of planting these plants is to bring in bugs. More good bugs than bad bugs in hopes of having the good guys help you out by killing the bad guys. By spraying you are eliminating both, the good and the bad.

By planting beneficial plants your goal is to make a healthy ecosystem. One that doesn’t need poisonous intervention.


Related Questions

What Insects Harm The Garden? 

Aphids, Caterpillars, Mealy bugs, white flies, leaf miners and thrips are some of the common ones. They all harm your plant differently. Some have a pointy mouth that pierces your plant to suck it’s juices out. Others spread disease and some eat the leaves just like you and I do.

Best Soil To plant

I’ve always had good luck with a soil mixture like this:

I think this mix will work if you are planning on using it in a raised bed or adding it to your Florida dirt. I’ve always had pretty good luck with it.

Your best bet is to continue to build your soil overtime. Just keep adding organic material. Leaves, small branches, compost, etc…




I've been gardening in Florida since 2014. I'm an FNGLA certified horticulturist and a Permaculture design apprentice. I just want to share my love and passion of growing plants with other in the state of Florida to help them grow beautiful gardens.

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