Adding flowers to your vegetable garden has a lot of perks. Not sure what to plant? Here’s 11 flowers for your vegetable garden today!
Once, years ago, a friend of mine moved into a new home. She was an avid vegetable gardener and was unhappy that her new yard was full of “useless” flowers. She wanted to pull them all up and plant more food.
Luckily she learned quickly that, while, many flowers aren’t necessarily edible or medicinal, they definitely have a place in the vegetable garden.
Why Should You Plant Flowers in the Vegetable Garden?
I plant flowers throughout my entire garden, interplanted throughout the crops. Why? They make a great all purpose companion plant!
Here’s some of the reasons all vegetable gardeners should also be planting flowers in their garden:
- To attract beneficial insects. This is probably the biggest perk for planting flowers in the vegetable garden. Flowers will bring in beneficial insects such as ladybugs, parasitic wasps, lacewings, and more.
- To attract pollinators. Pollinators are vitally important to your garden. The are responsible for pollinating your tomatoes, squash, peppers, etc. Without them you won’t get a harvest. Planting flowers attracts more bees to your garden.
- As a trap crop. Certain flowers are more attractive than other crops and will draw in pests and keep them away from your vegetables.
- To repel pests. Certain flowers have the ability to repel pests, which keeps both the flowers and the crops they are near, pest free.
How to Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden
There’s really no wrong way when it comes to adding flowers to your garden, but here are a few tips to help things go a little smoother and have better results.
First, use annual flowers.
Vegetable gardens are always changing. We rotate beds and crops and nothing is in the same spot year after year.
By using annuals you can be sure that you are planting the right flowers near the right crops to get the best results. They are not as permanent as perennials are, so you can move them as you wish each year.
If you do choose perennials, I recommend placing them at the border of the garden.
Second, don’t put them all in one place.
Plant your flowers throughout your garden, not just in one spot or around the perimeter.
I personally like to plant flowers like calendula, borage, or marigold within my rows of tomatoes and peppers. I let the nasturtium climb up the trellis with the cucumbers. And allow pole beans to climb sunflowers.
I also plant a large block of the taller flowers like zinnias and cosmos at one edge.
This lets you get all the benefits of each flower plus you get amazing color throughout your entire garden.
And finally, be sure to take into account the size of your flowers and crops- and the location of the sun.
For example, cosmos, can grow quite tall, so before planting them you should make sure that the flowers won’t shade the main crop of your garden during the day.
You want to compliment your garden with the flowers, not hinder it.
Pick up a copy of my Companion Planting Guide and Binder to help you design the perfect garden beds with companion planting in mind. Plus get a bonus guide to help you attract more beneficials to your garden!
11 Flowers to Plant in Your Vegetable Garden This Year
Really, you can plant any flowers you wish in your vegetable garden. All flowers will attract pollinators in some way, but here are 11 of my favorite flowers for the garden.
Many of these flowers are edible or have medicinal qualities as well, so they can be harvested and used throughout the year as well.
If I could only plant one flower, calendula, or pot marigold, would be it. It’s my absolute favorite flower to plant in the vegetable garden.
Calendula, which I actually consider more of an herb than a flower, is a sunny, yellow or orange, daisy-like flower. Don’t confuse it with the Tagetes Marigold, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
It makes a great companion plant for almost all crops in your garden. I plant it within my rows of peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Calendula can help attract pollinators and beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings.
It’s also got tons of medicinal uses and is edible.
Click here to learn more about how to grow calendula.
Nasturtium is a vining flower that has a strong scent and peppery flavored leaves.
I like to plant nasturtium with my squash and cucumbers. Since it vines, it easily climbs up the trellis with the main crop.
It’s also edible- both the leaves and flowers- and makes a great addition to salads!
Marigolds have been recommended by gardeners for decades. It’s been long touted as a catch all for deterring all sorts of pests.
The Tagetes marigold, isn’t edible, but I always save room for it in the garden.
It’s great for repelling pests such as cucumber beetles, cabbage worms, thrips and hornworms.
It readily goes to seed, which means one pack will last you a life time if you collect your seeds year to year.
Sunflowers are a wonderful addition to any vegetable garden.
They attract tons of pollinators. You can use them as a living trellis to grow pole beans or other climbing crops up.
And they can also provide shade to crops that might wilt in the summer heat- such as greens.
The seeds are edible for both people, livestock and birds. But the leaves and petals are edible as well!
I love sage in the garden, but most varieties are perennial. Luckily there are a few annual varieties around- including Pink Sunday Sage and Blue Monday Sage.
Both give long lasting blooms that bees absolutely love. They are full of color- which makes for a very happy site in the garden!
It self seeds readily, so you’ll likely have volunteer plants in the garden every year- or you can collect them to plant again.
Bee Balm is another of my favorite flowers for the garden.
It is almost always covered with pollinators- bees and butterflies especially love it.
Since the plant can get tall and it self seeds so easily, I prefer to keep bee balm around the perimeter of the garden.
Borage is a medicinal plant with edible flowers and leaves. It’s a great flower to attract pollinators- bees love it!
It’s also a great companion plant.
It also pairs well with corn and strawberries.
Chamomile is a medicinal herb and flower that not only has a lot of benefits for your body, but for your garden as well.
Chamomile is a great flower for the garden because it attract beneficial and predatory insects as well as repels some pests.
It’s a great flower to be planted near alliums like onions or garlic.
When choosing chamomile remember that Roman Chamomile is a perennial while German Chamomile is an annual- though it will self seed.
Though technically a perennial, geraniums are grown as annuals in most growing zones. If you live in a warm climate (zone 10-11) you can grow them as a perennial. Cooler zones will either need to plant yearly or overwinter the plant inside.
Geraniums make a great border flower in the vegetable garden. They make a good trap crop for Japanese beetles, to keep the beetles away from your vegetables.
They also can repel worms such as the earworm and cabbage worm.
Cosmos are one of my favorite annual field flowers. They are most commonly seen in either yellow/orange or pink/white.
The pink/white varieties can get quite tall- 4 feet or more! I prefer to plant the shorter orange/yellow varieties which only get a couple feet tall.
They are perfect for attracting pollinators and beneficial insects.
And finally zinnias. I never plant a garden that doesn’t include a bed of mixed zinnias and cosmos.
There are tons of zinnia varieties out there of all different colors and looks.
They are great for attracting pollinators and beneficials. They also act as a trap crop for Japanese beetles- drawing them away from food crops.
So there you have it. 11 of my favorite flowers to plant in the vegetable garden. Not only can they help your garden grow better- but they add so much color and beauty you will never want to leave the garden!
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