Japanese Beetles: Best and Worst Plants

Choose the right plants and have fewer pests!

June 20, 2019
Japanese Beetles
Lamba/Wikimedia Commons

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!

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Reader Comments

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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.

lemon joy and water

Hi Joann, can you tell me how much Lemon Joy and how much water to use? And did this mixture affect the appearance of your Roses in any way? I'm feeling such a loss because those darn beetles ate all my beautiful scented yellow and cream roses, my hot pink roses and my red roses. They also ate my white clematis and I thought the beetles didn't like clematis! Can you help me, please? I also treat my lawn 4X a year with Lawn Doctor which includes a Grub treatment to kill the grub eggs beneath the lawn, but NOTHING seems to work! Thanks for your help!

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?

Spray for Japanese beetles

Hi. You posted a comment on spraying the beetles in your rose of Sharon and they were gone. What did you spray??

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.

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