11 Plants That Attract Whiteflies (Plant These Instead)

cabbage whitefly on cabbage leaf

Whiteflies are annoying pests that can wreak havoc on your garden, but are you inadvertently attracting them with the plants you put in the ground? Knowing what they are attracted to and what whiteflies eat can go a long way in preventing these sap-suckers.

Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow because it often signifies a plant that is already weakened.

Some other favorite plants of whiteflies include hibiscus, eggplants, tomatoes, mulberries, and citrus. Plants that can be used to repel them include garlic, basil, marigolds, and many more!

These tiny sap-draining insects are becoming more of an issue, especially in greenhouses and large nurseries. Pesticides don’t work very well on them, but there are plenty of natural ways to combat them. One way is by knowing what they are attracted to.

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Whiteflies Love Hibiscus

Many people love a tall glass of hibiscus tea, so you can’t really blame the bugs here. Hibiscus plants, though gorgeous with their broad green leaves and huge, bright flowers, unfortunately, attract a lot of insect pests.

You may not see these bugs though because they are so tiny, but you’ll definitely notice the damage they cause. Whiteflies are only about 1/12 to ⅛ of an inch long, are triangular, and white.

They like to hide underneath host plants where they are somewhat protected. The damage they cause is the same as aphid damage. You’ll see curled, dried leaves, and the droplets of honeydew they leave behind.

hibiscus flower up close

To do a simple check on your hibiscus plants, give them a quick shake. The adult whiteflies will take flight and you’ll see the tiny white dots zooming around. Whiteflies love hibiscus flowers because they are soft plants that produce large flowers full of juicy sap.

Roses Are A Favorite Of Whiteflies

Nothing beats the smell of a bright red rose. Except when you go to give the flower a big sniff and accidentally snort up a whitefly. It’s not a pleasant experience at all.

If you love roses, you’ll want these pests gone as quickly as possible. They can cause your flowers to shrivel up and fall off before they bloom, and they can cause the green leaves to dry to a crisp.

pink garden roses

You don’t have to give up on roses, you just need to know how to combat these tiny pests. Unfortunately, a rose just smells too sweet. Here are some scents that whiteflies hate (and how to use them).

Bird Of Paradise Is Whitefly Heaven

The bird of paradise flower is a stunning specimen that can be grown outdoors in some warmer climates. Other owners keep them indoors for exotic beauty and long lasting blooms.

The problem is whiteflies love this flower too.

bird of paradise flower

It doesn’t matter if they are grown outside in the landscape or the flowers are gracing your sunroom, whiteflies don’t care, they only want to drain its juices dry.

Why Do Whiteflies Love Tropical Plants So Much?

Whiteflies thrive in greenhouse settings because of the warm temperatures, protection from most predators, and an endless supply of food.

Often they are introduced when we bring in infected plants from nurseries and plant supply stores.

The eggs of these pests often hide in the soil so it’s difficult to know if you’re bringing whiteflies home if they are hiding in the dirt. Eventually, they will emerge and start feeding on plant parts near the soil level.

Yellow Plants Attract Whiteflies

With so many hybrid plants and different coloration varieties, you can find numerous yellow plants. There are already plenty of plants that produce bright yellow flowers, but now there are so many foliage plants that have striking yellow leaves.

yellow daffodils in spring

In the natural world, yellow foliage tends to signify a weakened plant. Most plant eating insects are naturally attracted to weakened plants. It’s just nature’s way of keeping the strong healthy, and getting rid of plants that are struggling!

When you plant yellow in your garden, you may be ringing the dinner bell to pests such as whiteflies.

Whiteflies Love Leafy Houseplants

We mentioned greenhouses and whiteflies’ affinity for hanging out in these joints. So it stands to reason that whiteflies have found plenty of houseplants they will feed on.

While not every houseplant is a perfect host for whiteflies, these destructive pests do tend to go after plants with a lot of foliage and soft, smooth leaves.

Philodendrons, pothos, Chinese money plants, and much more have soft, easy-to-puncture leaves that whiteflies gravitate toward.

monstera philodendron plant

These plants offer places to hide, a warm environment, and thick juicy leaves that will feed them and future generations. So keep an eye on your indoor foliage plants for whiteflies by checking the undersides of leaves when you water them.

Your Vegetable Garden Will Attract Hungry Whiteflies

Working the ground and growing your own vegetables can be a rewarding experience and has tons of benefits. Unfortunately, insects, rabbits, deer, and many other pests appreciate your hard work as well.

It seems they call up all their friends, family, neighbors, and more because everything seems to want to get your plants before you can reap the rewards. Whiteflies are no exception, but there are plants they really go for.

Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, and cabbage all attract whiteflies.

Of course, most of these plants are garden staples that produce a lot of food for us.

Fresh red tomatoes

When whiteflies move onto these plants, production suffers, and they can attract ants, and create black sooty mold. Is there no end to the destruction whiteflies create?

Whiteflies Like Citrus Plants

Many of us are now growing our own citrus. Dwarf trees and fruit grafting have made it easy to grow citrus trees at home either indoors or out.

You can often find citrus trees that have lemons, limes, grapefruit, kumquats, and tangerines on a single tree.

For those of us who love the tart, juicy fruit, these trees are truly a joy. Apparently whiteflies think the same thing as they are often attracted to citrus trees as well. It seems they like their vitamin C as much as we do.

Yellow ripe sweet kumquat

There is, in fact, a specific whitefly species that attacks citrus trees. The aptly named citrus whitefly is attracted to citrus plants. They look and act like general whiteflies and are treated the same.

So, if you have citrus trees, be on the lookout for the citrus whitefly. They could damage the foliage and hinder the production of the fruits.

Avocados Also Attract Whiteflies

Avocado toast anyone? Sorry, because of the whitefly epidemic, we no longer have that in stock. Just kidding—sort of—don’t have a panic attack yet.

Over the past several years, avocados have gone from “that strange green fruit that no one knows what to do with”, to an international superfood superstar. It seems that whiteflies have noticed the benefits to eating avocados as well.

If you’re growing avocado trees, you could be inadvertently attracting whiteflies. These tiny, annoying pests love the broad leaves.

avocado on tree

While whiteflies tend to leave the leathery fruits alone, the secondary introduction of black sooty mold can ruin your chances of making fresh guacamole. The mold can damage and foul the fruits, so keep an eye out for these tiny white pests.

Whiteflies Munch On Mulberry Trees

Mulberry trees can become a little invasive in some areas. When you factor in the edible fruits though, they make up for their annoying habits.

Mulberry trees can produce so much fruit that you can make gallons of jam, and still leave enough for migratory birds to eat. That is if the whiteflies don’t come in and ruin the fun for everyone.

Usually, mulberry trees grow so fast that pests don’t bother them, but if you’re collecting the berries, whiteflies can infect them with their honeydew and sooty mold.

Then again, maybe you don’t bother with the berries. They are very mild tasting, and sometimes have no real flavor at all. But, since they attract whiteflies, your other plants may be suffering from these pests as well.

A bunch of ripe red mulberries

When you just can’t seem to get rid of whiteflies no matter how often you treat, check any mulberry trees on your property. They may be ground zero for your whitefly infestation.

Banana Leaves Are a Whitefly’s Dream

Banana leaves offer whiteflies so much food they would never have to leave. With such long and broad leaves it would be difficult to spot them until they’ve completely infested the tree.

banana leaves on farm

Dwarf indoor varieties would make it easier to spot them, but you may still have to search in all the folds and hiding spots.

So, if you have banana trees either indoors or outdoors, be sure to inspect them on occasion for tiny white spots, or white flying bugs.

Whiteflies Like Blackberries And Raspberries

While blackberries and raspberries aren’t a whitefly’s favorite plant, they will invade them when there isn’t much else around. If you have these berry plants on your property, you might want to inspect them on occasion just to be sure.

Like most other plants on this list, the pests tend to attack the leaves.

While they feed on the sap, these insects produce a waste product called honeydew that often brings about black mold. It’s this mold that will ruin the fruit and severely damage the plant.

What Can I Plant That DOESN’T Attract Whiteflies?

It seems that whiteflies will feed on nearly any plant. Especially when it comes to plants that most gardeners keep in their flower and vegetable gardens. So what can you do to repel these pests?

Here are several plants you can add to your garden that will help to kickwhiteflies off your property.

  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Most pungent herbs
  • Marigolds
  • Bee balm
  • Nasturtiums
  • Catnip
  • Lavender

For a more comprehensive list of plants that keep whiteflies away, check out these plants that repel whiteflies naturally.

How To Control And Prevent Whiteflies

Prevention is always the best way to deal with pests. Planting some of the plants whiteflies can’t stand is one way to deter these pests. The following are also great ways to stop them before they infest your garden.

Yellow Sticky Traps Can Stop Whiteflies Mid Flight

We already know that yellow attracts whiteflies, so why not use that against them?

Whiteflies are very attracted to the color yellow, so gardeners often use yellow sticky tape or stakes to catch flying whitefly adults.

Put these around plants that often attract whiteflies to monitor for the pest.

50 Sheets Yellow Sticky Traps, Fruit Fly Traps, for Indoor and Outdoor helps to monitor for many kinds of garden pests. Just stick these on or near plants that attract whiteflies to catch them before they can infest your garden.

Confuse Whiteflies By Using Reflective Mulch

Light-colored or reflective mulch not only keeps whiteflies away, but can increase garden plant health. Reflective mulch is usually a polystyrene sheeting that is white or metallic colored.

A mulch like this Silver Metallic Plastic Mulch reflects the sun’s rays up onto the bottom of plants giving them more light, especially on cloudy days. This helps to ripen fruits and vegetables both above and below. It also keeps the plant healthier.

As an added benefit, the reflective mulch tends to keep whiteflies away. It’s thought that the reflection confuses the whiteflies. Since they like to hide on the bottom of the leaves, with the reflection, they can’t find the bottom of the leaves and they don’t land on the plant.

Companion Planting Can Run Off Whiteflies

Companion planting isn’t anything new, it’s just a mostly forgotten garden trick. The Native Americans used companion planting when they planted corn, squash, and beans together. This is also called 3 Sisters planting.

All three plants work together to help the other. Corn grows tall, and supports beans as they climb.

The beans absorb nitrogen from the air and provide extra nutrients to corn and squash. Squash leaves are broad which help cool the ground, keep moisture in and prevent weeds.

Other companion plants include tomatoes, bell peppers and basil. Cucumbers grow well with nasturtiums and marigolds. You can grow carrots next to onions to keep pests away.

There are many more companion plants that are mutually beneficial both to the plants and for keeping pests such as whiteflies away. When you’re done here, do some research and find out the best companion plants for your garden!

Neem Oil Is A Great Organic And Natural Deterrent

Unlike pesticides, neem oil won’t affect beneficial insects unless they are sprayed directly. It works great against most soft bodied pests such as whiteflies, aphids, armyworms, cutworms, caterpillars, and slugs.

Bonide CAPTAIN JACK’S Neem Oil Ready-To-Use not only works to get rid of the above pests but it’s great against most mold and fungus. It’s a great preventative for insects and bugs that feed on the leaves and sap of plants.

Just be sure to spray in the morning, or later afternoon. The hot afternoon sun combined with neem oil may cause leaf scorch.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

To recap, here are many plants that attract whiteflies:

  • Hibiscus
  • Bird of paradise
  • Roses
  • Yellow plants
  • Leafy, soft, smooth houseplants
  • Most popular garden plants
  • Citrus
  • Mulberries
  • Avocado
  • Banana trees
  • Blackberries and raspberries

You don’t have to eradicate these plants from your house or property, but you should check them for whiteflies frequently. You could also plant herbs or other plants that deter whiteflies, repel them with neem oil, or confuse them with reflective mulch.

If you’re constantly dealing with these insects, we hope these tips and tricks help you get rid of these pests.

How to pest proof your home in under a day e-book by Zack DeAngelis

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