Japanese Beetles: Best and Worst Plants

Choose the right plants and have less pests

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Although Japanese beetles have a wide range of favorite foods, some plants are more appealing to them than others.

The larvae seem to be especially fond of grass roots and other garden plant roots. The adults like fruit, shade trees, roses, shrubs, asparagus, corn, soybeans, and a number of other vegetables, especially plant parts exposed to the sun. They generally do not like cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, lettuce, parsley, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and turnips. They also tend to avoid geraniums.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has identified the following best and worst landscape plants to have in your yard when hungry Japanese beetles come calling. Use these suggestions as guidelines if you're adding new plants.


Least favored by adult Japanese beetles and less susceptible to destruction.

  • Ash
  • Boxwood
  • Burning bush
  • Dogwood
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Magnolia
  • Northern red oak
  • Redbud
  • Red maple


Most favored by adult Japanese beetles and more susceptible to destruction.

  • American linden
  • Apple
  • Apricot, cherry, peach, and plum
  • Birch
  • Crab apple
  • Crape myrtle
  • Japanese maple
  • Norway maple
  • Pin oak
  • Rose


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I've got them going to town

By Supermand on July 13

I've got them going to town on my strawberries and my hops vine. :(

I beg to differ on the

By Terry Farrell

I beg to differ on the burning bushes not being a favorite of the beetles. Every year the beetles are bad, they attack mine as well as my roses, Japanese maples, crepe myrtles and plum trees.

Will Japanese beetles eat

By evie ritter

Will Japanese beetles eat cross gentian... Gentiana c. 'Blue Cross'?

They should add rose of

By mishap

They should add rose of sharon to the list I never had to spray 'til I had one and when it blooms it looks like it has japnese beetle flowers.

I literally had dead beetles 2-3 inches deep around the tree after I sprayed.

There is one plant they love

By John Prokos

There is one plant they love more than anything else. Marigolds. They will eat those until they are full and leave. So, encircle you garden with marigolds and they will mostly leave the vegetables alone.

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