Sacrificial Plants To Help Your Edible Garden Grow

12 Plants to Deter Pests From Your Edible Garden

Do you plant marigolds with your tomatoes and radishes with your leafy greens?

Using sacrificial or companion plants is a natural pest control method that avoids pesticides and other toxins in the garden. These plants act as a decoy for slugs, snails, white flies, and other pests looking for a snack in the veggie patch. Although their veracious appetites are frustrating for gardeners, these pests also benefit the soil and the garden through pollination. The sacrificial plant provides a food source while keeping the rest of the garden out of danger.

Sow or plant sacrificial plants early in a perimeter around what you hope to protect. Each decoy attracts different pests, but a good rule of thumb is to plant one decoy plant for every six you want to save.

Sacrificial plants in the garden


Aphids, blackflies, and whiteflies love nasturtiums. Plant around roses and the perimeter of the vegetable garden. Before long, the stems will be covered with munching insects. Plant nasturtiums in succession throughout the growing season. As each crop becomes saturated with pests, dispose of it in the compost. Not only do nasturtiums attract the unwanted, but they also add bright color and interest to your space.



To prevent vine weevils from feasting on rhododendrons or the tender shoots of clematis, pot up primroses and place them around the main plant. When the primrose leaves fall off, it’s a sign that the nasty weevil larvae are in the primrose pots and must be disposed of immediately.

Stinging Nettle

Aphids flock to nettles, so they are good choices for rose beds where aphids tend to feast willingly on new growth or close to eggplant and tomato crops. Plant early in the season. Nettles tend to spread, so consider planting them in pots that you can place discretely in the garden bed. Doing so will keep the garden looking tidy and also prevent you from being stung by them when watering or pruning.

stinging nettle


Plant marigolds in succession throughout the growing season. These pretty annuals are perfect companions for most vegetable crops and help keep the slugs and snails at bay.



Plant radishes liberally throughout the vegetable patch, and the flea beetle and root fly will not pay attention to the cabbage.


The strong lavender scent we love is famous for deterring many biting bugs away from other plants. As a bonus, lavender attracts beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies to the garden.


Once fully matured, sunflowers are like a magnet for unwanted insects such as stink bugs, keeping your sweetcorn and okra crops safe.


This powerfully scented herb deters carrot flies, flea beetles, onion flies, aphids, and black flies. Use it as a sacrificial ground cover and in the kitchen!


The scent of onions deters aphids. Growing them alongside strawberries can also help prevent moldy fruit.


Many gardeners have problems with rats. They don’t like the smell of green and white sage and will keep away if they pick up the scent. Plant it throughout the veggie patch or hosta garden to keep the rodents away.


The strong citrus scent of lemongrass is also disgusting to mice and rats!


Plant daffodils to keep the squirrels away. They despise the smell of the flowers and bulbs. After the spring favorite finishes for the season, leave the bulb in the ground, and the garden will remain squirrel-free.

These decoy plants will add color and interest to the garden and keep the beneficial insects happy and those with big appetites so the plants you love the most remain free of pests.

Marigolds and other flowers growing in the garden

Similar articles

Grow Lavender For Its Many Wonderful Medicinal Properties

Lavender is known for helping people feel calm and relaxed, but as Caroline Rivard writes, these gorgeous purple flowers offer so many health benefits!

Medicinal Weeds: Stinging Nettle

It hurts when you touch it, but stinging nettle is great for the body. Don’t banish the weed from the garden; take advantage of its many health benefits!

Why IPM is the Secret Solution to Your Gardening Success

The more you use insecticides, the less they work to keep plants bug-free. Colin Bell talks integrated pest management and why it’s crucial to a healthy garden.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Invited by the Canadian Garden Council to be an ambassador for the Year of the Garden 2022, Jennifer is a garden enthusiast, writer, and alumni of Simon Fraser University. Her bylines have appeared in the opinion section of the Toronto Star, and her portfolio includes articles for Chatelaine online, Reader’s Digest, Canada’s History Magazine, and Modern Farmer magazine, among other newspapers, magazines, and websites across Canada. When not writing, you can find her visiting local garden centers or puttering, planting, and nourishing her urban garden oasis in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.