Best Japanese Beetle Resistant Plants

Outsmart Japanese beetles by using plants they tend to avoid.

September 04, 2019
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Photo By: Bailey Nursery

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Bailey Nursery

Photo By: Proven Winners

Photo By: Bailey Nursery

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Proven Winners

Photo By: Bailey Nursery

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Bailey Nursery

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Bailey Nursery

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

‘Afterglow’ Winterberry

Japanese beetles tend to avoid hollies, and ‘Afterglow’ winterberry is no exception. This is a deciduous holly — it drops its leaves in fall, and the berried stems sparkle through winter. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Use as a hedge or in a rain garden.

‘Dragon Wing Pink’ Begonia

Begonias as a group, including ‘Dragon Wing’ types, unfurl leaves and flowers that are thicker, offering a bite that Japanese beetles don’t savor. Use ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias in containers or planting beds in part shade to full sun settings.

‘Declaration’ Lilac

Japanese beetles avoid lilacs, including the small and full-size varieties. ‘Declaration’ flowers 7 to 10 days earlier than other lilacs, helping to extend the seasonal show. Plants grow 6 to 8 feet tall. Use them as an informal screen, hedge or specimen shrub.

Luscious Marmalade Lantana

Sandpapery leaves on lantana help give Japanese beetles the brush-off. The insects tend to leave this flowering annual alone. Butterflies, bees and other pollinator insects, however, flock to the brightly tinted blooms. It’s a great plant to include in a butterfly or hummingbird garden.

‘Coast to Coast’ Shadowland Hosta

Hostas like ‘Coast to Coast,’ which unfurls thick, puckered leaves, are unpalatable to Japanese beetles. The thick leaves also give this hosta — and ones with similar leaves — slug resistance. ‘Coast to Coast’ is a gold leaf hosta that thrives in part to full shade. Clumps grow 30 inches tall and up to 36 inches across.

‘Everest Blue’ Ageratum

‘Everest Blue’ is a tall ageratum that grows 20 to 26 inches tall. Developed for the cut flower market, it makes a terrific addition to planting beds, cottage gardens and large containers. Japanese beetles tend to avoid the hairy, quilted leaves of ageratum, but may rarely munch on the blooms.

Mojave Portulaca

Also known as moss rose, portulaca is loved for its ability to grow in the meanest, driest, sunniest, hottest spots. This annual creates a carpet of colorful blooms. Mojave portulaca opens blossoms in red, pink, tangerine and yellow. With thick succulent leaves, it’s no wonder Japanese beetles leave this beauty alone.

Venus Dogwood

Venus Dogwood is the result of a cross between Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) and Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa). Its flowers are up to 6 inches across — as big as a hand. Like other dogwoods, this cross shows strong resistance to Japanese beetle feeding. Leaves have a strong venation pattern that creates an almost quilted effect, which could be why the beetles give it a pass.

Pansy Promise Marina Hybrid

Grow a crop of good cheer with the friendly faces of pansy flowers. An eye-catching blend of purple shades, white and yellow make ‘Promise Marina’ an easy favorite for pots and planting beds in spring and fall. Better still, pansies are a plant that doesn’t draw Japanese beetles.

‘Wintergreen’ Littleleaf Boxwood

A garden favorite for its steady evergreen color, ‘Wintergreen’ littleleaf boxwood wins more points for its spot on the Japanese beetle bypass list. The insects tend to avoid boxwood, passing over it for tastier plants like roses and hibiscus. ‘Wintergreen’ is hardy in Zones 4-9 and grows in either full sun to part shade.

‘Whirlybird Mix’ Nasturtium

The ‘Whirlybird Mix’ of nasturtium is beloved for its large, 2- to 3-inch flowers that hold their faces up — providing maximum show in the garden. Blooms open in hues of orange, red, gold, cream and rose. Japanese beetles likely avoid this annual because of its peppery bite, something that’s delightful in salads or on sandwiches.

‘Minnesota Strain’ Redbud

Northern gardeners revel in the hardy redbud known as ‘Minnesota’ or ‘Northern Strain.’ Hardy to Zone 4, it was developed at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Like other redbuds, this cold weather favorite doesn’t attract Japanese beetles.

‘Swan Violet and White’ Remembrance Columbine

The Remembrance columbines were developed in memory of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. ‘Swan Violet and White’ features deep purple petals and spurs. The pretty flowers and blue green leaves aren’t typically Japanese beetles favorites.

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