Plant Alyssum to Help Naturally Protect Lettuce Crops

lettuce-allysum

A new study by horticulturist Eric Brennan, from the Agricultural Research Service, shows that organic lettuce growers in California are using Alyssum (Lobularia maritime) as a companion plant, to help naturally protect their crops from destructive aphids.

Alyssum, an easy-to-grow annual, produces small, elegant flowers that attract hoverflies. The hoverflies feed on Alyssum’s nectar and eventually lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on aphids common to lettuce crops. Aphids can be particularly difficult to control on lettuce crops because they tend to live in the inner leaves of the plant.

lettuce

The study shows that Alyssum is so effective in protecting lettuce crops from aphids, that California farmers are using the wildflower on as much as 10 percent of their land.

Brennan shows that best practice for the companion planting is to randomly intersperse Alyssum throughout the rows of lettuce, which helps to encourage hoverflies to feed and lay eggs more evenly throughout the crop.

Shop Sweet Alyssum Seeds Here. Shop All Lettuce Seeds Here.

One thought on “Plant Alyssum to Help Naturally Protect Lettuce Crops”

  • John E.

    Very interesting! I've heard of planting marigolds as companion plants to aid in pest control but not alyssum. That ought to be very popular. Alyssum would look fantastic with many of the ornamental and food plants that are afflicted with aphids. I will try it out.

    Of course, I'll also have to educate my clients to the fact that the hover flies that they'll see don't need sprayed as they are what we want in order to control the aphids.

    Reply
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