The arrival of warm, summer months is often accompanied by one of the most well-known summer pests – mosquitoes. These pesky insects can really make you think twice about enjoying some time in your garden, yard, or even on your patio. Luckily, it’s possible to control mosquito population naturally.
Dragonflies are natural predators. As adults, these beneficial insects scavenge the skies looking for prey such as mosquitoes, wasps, and moths. In their larval stage, dragonflies consume large numbers of mosquito larvae. You can invite dragonflies into your outdoor space by strategically planning your landscape. Below, you will find a list of land and shoreline plants that are known to attract mosquito-eating dragonflies.
While the best way to attract dragonflies is through backyard ponds or fountains, you can tempt them by planting flowers that attract their prey in your garden or yard. Here are five land plants you should grow if you want to invite dragonflies into your backyard or patio area.
1. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
These bright yellow wildflowers live for about two years in warmer climates and die off when winter hits in cooler climates. Black-eyed Susan adapts well to nearly every type of soil. It requires full sunlight and regular watering to bloom.
2. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Swamp milkweed is a perennial plant that produces lovely white and pink flowers every year. The blossoms are very showy and great for attracting dragonfly prey like butterflies, wasps, and bees. As the name implies, swamp milkweed grows best in moist, wetland areas with wet, clay soil.
3. Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
This pretty plant with pale pink-purple blooms flowers from mid-summer until fall. It attracts multitudes of pollinators, a dragonfly feast. These plants reach a height of anywhere between 3 and 12 feet, so they’re perfect for dragonflies that like tall perches. The flowers also produce a light vanilla fragrance. Joe-Pye weed grows in full or partial sunlight and occur naturally in moist woods or meadows.
4. Meadow Sage (Salvia marcus)
This beautiful perennial with its striking purple flowers loves full sunlight. Once planted, meadow sage doesn’t require regular watering. In fact, if you live in a drier area, this plant is perfect to attract dragonflies and keep your yard free of mosquitos.
5. White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
White yarrow is a perennial flower with a multitude of huge, flat clusters about 5 inches across, packed with 20-25 creamy-white blossoms. They attract insects like butterflies and tiny parasitic wasps that dragonflies love to eat. This plantthrives in full sun, dry to medium moisture, and well-drained soils. White yarrow is easy to grow, so you don’t need a green thumb!
Pond & Shoreline Plants
If you have a pond or are considering incorporating some form of water into your landscaping, here are five plants to grow in and around such features to attract dragonflies.
6. Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)
Arrowhead, or duck-potato, is an aquatic perennial that rises to a height of three feet. The leaves are shaped like arrowheads (surprise, surprise) with tiny white flowers growing from the top of the stem. Dragonflies love using this marsh plant to gather and lay eggs. One trick with planting arrowhead: you’ll need to weigh the flower down, as it tends to float when placed in underwater soil. Don’t worry if the leaves are completely submerged, as they will soon grow above the surface.
7. Wild Celery (Vallisneria americana)
Wild celery is a useful tape grass that provides excellent aquatic habitat for dragonflies. It is a fully submerged plant that will grow to the water surface. When planting wild celery, make sure your pond has at least eighteen inches of water and plenty of sunlight filtering down. Like the arrowhead plant, wild celery needs to be weighted in order to stick to the bottom of the pond and take root.
8. Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile)
Similar to arrowhead, water horsetail roots on the pond floor and produces leaves that penetrate the surface. Dragonfly larvae use this plant to navigate to the pond surface once they reach adulthood. Horsetails are grown from nursery plants, not seed, and love partial to full sunlight. Once you establish horsetails around your pond perimeter, they can withstand short periods of dry weather.
9. Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Cattails, or bull rushes, thrive in moist soil and swampy areas, but they do love full sunlight. They attract dragonflies to gather and lay eggs. Cattails are very hardy plants, so you can fairly easily transplant them if you want to enlarge your pond, install a new one, or save some money by gathering some from a local water source and translocating to your backyard pond.
10. Water Lily
A classic floating plant, water lilies are great for dragonfly larvae. They grow from tubers planted below the pond surface. Add rocks or other extra weight to keep your water lilies submerged. The tubers then send up leaves that produce star-shaped white blossoms.