Japanese Beetles: Best and Worst Plants

Choose the right plants and have fewer pests

Japanese Beetles
Lamba/Wikimedia Commons

Although Japanese beetles have a wide range of favorite foods, some plants are more appealing to them than others. Here's a list of the best and worst plants to keep when dealing with Japanese beetles.

Japanese beetle larvae seem to be especially fond of grass 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. The beetles will munch on geraniums, but geraniums contain a substance that temporarily paralyzes Japanese beetles, making them susceptible to predators. Geraniums are therefore often used as trap plants.

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.

Best Plants to Keep Away Japanese Beetles

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

Worst Plants for Japanese Beetle Damage

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

See our pest page on Japanese Beetles Control.

Do you grow roses? See our free Roses Growing Guide for advice on caring for rose shrubs!

Reader Comments

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Japanese Beetles love eggplant

Your information said these beetles "generally" don't like eggplant, but I can tell you that they absolutely devoured my eggplant.

They were really damaging my

They were really damaging my hazel trees earlier in the year, I wonder if Japanese gardeners have problems with these beetles, lol.

japanese beetles

The water in the can/container doesn't have to be boiling hot, in fact, it can be cold. I add a little detergent to the water and simply knock the darned beetles into the water. As for those beetle bags, there's conflicting information/advice on using them. They can actually draw MORE beetles into your yard. If you have to use them place the bag in the back of your property, hopefully not near your neighbor's prized roses!

Japanese Beetles

There is a Home Defence that contains product to kill Japanese Beetle works well.
Also if you take a container of boiling water out and knock them into it it's instant gone especially if they are attacking your roses.

japanese beetles

Thanks for advice re: japanese beetles.They are eating my balsam fir trees.Needles are going brown.

Japanese Beetles

What is the best product/concentrate to spray large areas around fruit trees to kill Japanese Beetles?

Japanese Beetles.

I have a 50 ft cherry and apple tree. They stripped them before I saw they were on them. I also had them on the tomatoes and okra.. I hung traps with garbage bags on them. I put garbage bags 4 times with about a foot of dead bugs,,,, in the trash., Every bug in the bag was a dead bug. Then we sprinkled lime on the ground to kill off the eggs,, so they will not hatch out next year.

Japanese Beetles in Morris, IL

Milky spore worked for us. We put it on our lawn in the spring and fall to kill the grubs. I rarely see them now.

Beetles in NC

Japanese beetles seem to love my concord grape vines and will turn the leaves into lace overnight. they also seem to like Crepe Myrtles which they will also denude if given the choice. I have used Sevin spray and "beetle bags" to lessen the damage but the battle seems to be constant each year. Any long term solutions out there?

I gave up on raspberry plants

I gave up on raspberry plants years ago because they attracted so many japanese beetles .

Now they LOVE my asparagus ferns, and will completely de-foliate them if left unchecked.


we still have Raspberry plants but keep after the beetle issue almost daily. Their worth the eating

The soap and water sounds

The soap and water sounds like one of the best ideas. But it does not give the ratio of soap to water. And though I wash my fruits and veggies, I don't want them to taste like soap.And, is there any particular brand or scent of soap that works better than others?
Thank you so much in advance for your help.

Hi Pam, Go to

Hi Pam,
Go to http://www.almanac.com/content... to read about the soap spray. It's best to use it on your lawns in the spring or fall when the beetles are in the grub stage, hiding in the soil.

you have to put the beettle

you have to put the beettle traps bags away from your plants so they will go to the bags not eat your plants.

I have raspberry bushes and

I have raspberry bushes and they are eating them up like crazy. Also an oak tree that i have is full of holes. Not sure what to use on them to get rid of the japenese beetles. They are real bad this year.

I have roses and they love

I have roses and they love them I bought all the fancy stray insecticide and spent a fortune then I turned to lemon joy and water in a spray bottle and no more beatles, I left the bags hanging but they were empty.

They haven't touched my

They haven't touched my marigolds but have shredded my petunias, my porch boxes look sick. They have also trashed my basil. = (

Something is eating the

Something is eating the leaves off of my purple wisteria. Do you have any idea what it could be and how I can kill it?

Wisteria seldom succumbs to

Wisteria seldom succumbs to disease or insect pests . . . but here are a few ideas:
• it might be scales: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG...
• it might be aphids: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG...
• it might be a canker disease: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG...
These are all from here (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG...).
You could call in a professional to examine your wisteria or, perhaps, take a few leaves to a local nursery and see if they can provide further information.
We hope this helps!

I've got them going to town

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

I beg to differ on the

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

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

They should add rose of

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.

What are you spraying on the

What are you spraying on the beetles

Japanese Beetles

I have a question for the person with Japanese Beetles on the Rose of Sharon. What did you spray on the plant to kill the beetles? We are having a problem with almost everything in our yard. However, they have not yet found our tomatoes. Thank you.

Japanese Beetles

What did you spray on the plant to kill the beetles?

There is one plant they love

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.