Best and Worst Plants for Japanese Beetle Damage | The Old Farmer's Almanac

The Best and Worst Plants for Japanese Beetle Damage

Primary Image
Photo Credit
Lamba/Wikimedia Commons

Choose the Right Plants to Have Fewer Pests!

Print Friendly and PDF
Almanac Garden Planner

Become a better gardener! Discover our new Almanac Garden Planner features for 2024. It’s easy, fun, and free to try!


Although Japanese beetles are known to feed on more than 300 types of plants, some are more appealing to them than others! Here’s a list of the best and worst plants to grow when dealing with Japanese beetles.

What do Japanese Beetles Like to Eat?

As larvae, Japanese beetles live underground, feeding on the roots of grasses and other garden plants. This often leads to brown spots of dead or dying grass in lawns—a tell-tale sign of a Japanese beetle larvae infestation.

The adults like to feed on a number of different fruit and shade trees, roses, shrubs, asparagus, corn, soybeans, and a variety of other vegetables and ornamentals. The beetles will also readily 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.

Plants Most Often Damaged by Japanese Beetles

These plants are favored by adult Japanese beetles and are more susceptible to destruction. Avoid planting them in areas that get regular infestations. 

  • American linden
  • Apple
  • Apricot, cherry, peach, and plum
  • Beans
  • Birch
  • Crab apple
  • Crape myrtle
  • Grape vines
  • Hibiscus
  • Japanese maple
  • Norway maple
  • Pin oak
  • Raspberry
  • Roses

Plants Least Often Damaged by Japanese Beetles

These plants are least favored by adult Japanese beetles and are less susceptible to destruction. (However, there is no guarantee that these plants won’t be attacked if there are limited food sources in the area!)

  • Ash
  • Boxwood
  • Burning bush
  • Clematis
  • Dogwood
  • Fir
  • Forsythia
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Lilac
  • Magnolia
  • Northern red oak
  • Pine
  • Redbud
  • Red maple
  • Spruce
  • Yew

Do you get Japanese Beetles? Here’s help! 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!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

2023 Gardening Club