Planting This Gorgeous Flower May Result In An Unwanted Spider Problem

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Planting This Gorgeous Flower May Result In An Unwanted Spider Problem

Sunflowers are a great addition to any garden, as they add bright yellow colors and an interesting texture with their seed heads, as well as a significant height that’s sure to catch the eye. However, there are some downsides to planting sunflowers. For example, they can attract animals like squirrels that want to eat the seeds, and require significant cleanup in the fall, especially if the seeds are large.

Additionally, sunflowers can draw spiders to your garden, which may not be ideal for those with arachnophobia or for those who don’t like walking into spider webs. Some spiders are attracted to taller plants like sunflowers, where they can spin larger webs and catch more insects. However, spiders can also be beneficial as they feed on pesky insects that you may not want in your garden and can also help in pollinating flowers.

How do I know sunflowers are attracting spiders to my garden and not something else?

sunflowers in a garden

Oleksandr Smushko/Shutterstock

If you are seeing an abundance of spiders in your garden after planting sunflowers, these tall plants are likely what caused it. Some varieties of sunflowers can be as tall as 15 feet, but most of them reach closer to five or six feet, which the spiders find ideal for catching bugs as they fly. However, other plants also can bring about a spider infestation, including tall plants like corn stalks. If you allow tall weeds to exist among the more desirable plants in a natural garden, they can deliver protection from harsh sunlight, which is one of the things these arachnids are seeking. If you add quite a bit of mulch to the space, which creates a moist environment, this also may encourage spiders to move into the space (as well as other insects).

Ultimately, though, arachnids are drawn to tall stalks like sunflowers so they can build webs that are well off the ground to snag flying insects. Such creatures may construct webs among sunflower plants and other areas that are at a height, like between trees and under the eaves of your home. You may see spiders spinning webs on tall ornamental grasses as well.

Are spiders good or bad to have around my sunflowers in the garden?

spider eating a wasp on a sunflower

Artsaba Family/Shutterstock

Spiders typically will be beneficial to a garden — and to the sunflowers in it — because they can eat insects that could cause harm to your plants. Aphids and beetles could chew on and damage your plants, and may even spread fungal and bacterial diseases between different plants, causing harm to them. By eating them, arachnids help reduce this problem. They may eat wasps or mosquitos, too. Perhaps the biggest danger of drawing spiders into your garden by planting sunflowers is that they may eat useful insects as well, such as ladybugs.

If a spider weaves a web on a plant, including sunflowers, it doesn’t really harm them. However, some people feel as though the webs serve as an eyesore and distract from the overall look of the garden. Other people may want to avoid having spiders living on their sunflowers because of arachnophobia. This is a real disorder that can cause extreme fear in people, resulting in symptoms like nausea, sweating, dizziness, and trouble breathing. People with this condition may wish to remove the sunflowers from their garden, but others can control their arachnophobia through exposure therapy.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.