The 10 Best Sacrificial (Trap) Plants

This post may contain references and links to products from our advertisers. We may receive commissions from certain links you click on our website. As an Amazon Associate Rhythm of the Home earns revenues from qualifying purchases.

Share this article:

There’s no worse feeling for a gardener to see how the plant you’ve spent so much time and effort to grow has been completely destroyed by pests. Using pesticides or other strong control methods may not always be practical. If you’re looking for a natural way to keep pests at bay, your best bet is to try sacrificial plants. Many organic gardeners make use of a trap crop that essentially attracts harmful pests to keep them from attacking your beloved plants.

The logic of a sacrificial plant is quite simple. Even though pests will typically feed indiscriminately, they still have their own preferences and can be lured away from valuable plants that you wish to specifically protect. Trap cropping can be a useful organic technique for dealing with pests. You just need to find a suitable sacrificial plant that you will add near the important crop that you wish to keep safe from pesky insects. Check out the best trap plants to consider if you’re interested in this pest control alternative.

1. Nasturtium


Nasturtium is one of the best sacrificial plants to consider for your garden considering how it attracts aphids. They’re highly recommended if you have a problem with aphids damaging your flower beds. Nasturtium plants are favored by all types of aphids, including greenfly and whitefly.

Although it’s considered a trap crop by many gardeners, nasturtium can also be seen as a visually-pleasing addition to the garden thanks to its bright orange blooms. It’s recommended to use nasturtium as a companion plant for lots of flowers and vegetables affected by aphids or flea beetles. Keep in mind that this plant spreads very quickly and it might overwhelm your garden.

2. Nettle


Most gardeners see stinging nettles as annoying weeds that should be removed. However, it could be a smart idea to plant nettle as a sacrificial crop because it’s capable of attracting various insect pests. The lush foliage of nettle plants can easily distract aphids or other harmful pests to prevent them from reaching your other plants.

Another great aspect of nettle is that it can also encourage the arrival of beneficial insects in your garden such as ladybugs. Nettles can work nicely as sacrificial plants but they’re not ideal for vegetable gardens considering their ability to sting. Find a good spot in the garden that’s sufficiently close to the plants vulnerable to pests.

3. Sunflower


The lovely blooms of sunflowers can instantly improve the appeal of any garden. You will be pleased to find out that a sunflower can also act as a reliable trap plant. It’s highly recommended if your garden is invaded by stink bugs. When planted near sweetcorn, for example, sunflowers will take away some of the damage from the pests. These sacrificial plants are also great when brought to a vegetable garden.

4. Lavender


Lavender has a great reputation when it comes to producing a lovely fragrance to fill your entire yard. It can also be planted as a sacrificial crop because it’s able to attract aphids. At the same time, lavender can also work as a barrier against various pests that may potentially invade the garden. It’s therefore both a deterrent and a trap plant. Bees and butterflies are more likely to visit a garden decorated with lavender.

5. Marigold


If you’re bothered by slugs, thrips, and nematodes, it’s safe to say that marigolds can be used to draw them away from your other plants. Plant marigolds close to tomatoes, salad, herbs, or any other plants that are vulnerable to slugs and nematodes. Aside from being a great trap plant, marigold is also able to add aesthetic appeal to the yard through its pretty blooms. Marigolds also feature solid general pest-repellent properties.

6. Radish


Easy to grow in any vegetable garden, radishes work nicely as sacrificial plants. Lots of pests find them attractive, allowing you to protect harvest crops using an organic approach. Radishes can be grown together with a wide range of vegetables and can draw away common insects like cabbage maggots and flea beetles. It’s especially recommended to pair radishes with broccoli, kale, and cabbage plants to get the most out of their pest-trapping abilities.

7. Mustard


Whereas other sacrificial plants can only bring some very specific benefit to your garden, mustard boasts amazing flexibility to do more than just lure pests away. This is a multi-use trap crop that can take care of many harmful insects from your garden while also providing a flavorful punch to your cooking. Mustard plants are self-seeding and can mainly attract harlequin bugs that feed on vegetables like cabbage, beans, and tomatoes.

8. Chervil


This delicate herb is a prime target for slugs in your garden. Chervil plants should be introduced as sacrificial plants if you’re troubled by these common pests. Thanks to its aniseed-like flavor, chervil can also be considered a welcomed addition to be used for some dishes. It’s particularly popular in French cuisine. Consider planting chervil close to a lettuce crop or anywhere else in the garden where slugs can be found.

9. Dill


If you’ve ever grown a vegetable from the nightshade family such as tomatoes or eggplants, you’re probably familiar with hornworms. These pests often attack nightshade vegetables and can be tough to get rid of. One organic solution is to plant dill around these veggies to try to distract the pests. This aromatic herb is also practical for trapping cabbage worms and squash bugs.

10. Okra


Okra can be grown for consumption but it also works as a sacrificial plant if you don’t necessarily enjoy eating it. Similar to other trap crops, okra is very attractive to aphids and can be used to draw them away from other vegetables such as tomatoes. Okra is fairly easy to grow considering how it only requires a sunny spot in the garden with soil featuring good drainage.

By Stefan Bucur

Stefan is the founder and owner of Rhythm of the Home. He has 6 years of experience in home improvement, interior design, cleaning and organizing.

Leave a Reply

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

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.