Planting flowers in your vegetable garden provides more benefits than simply adding a splash of color. Vegetable garden companion planting contributes to a healthy garden and higher yields of produce without using harmful chemicals. In this post, find out how companion planting benefits your garden and what the best flowers for your vegetable garden are.
I love my summer flowers. Some might say I am a wee bit obsessed. But when it comes to the vegetable garden, flowers aren’t just pretty—they are a much-needed part of any healthy garden ecosystem.
Flowers provide necessary meals for living things that our garden needs, such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, while also adding beauty that everyone enjoys. If you want a healthy edible vegetable garden, it’s essential to integrate flowering plants in it as well.
Can You Plant Flowers And Vegetables Together?
Yes! Not only can you, but you absolutely should.
The incredible thing about plants is they each have beneficial qualities that work in tandem with one another. One of the surest ways we can make our gardens healthier is to avoid single crop planting. Add some marigolds to your tomato beds, a few nasturtium seeds to the squash beds, and reap the benefits.
Benefits of Flowers for the Vegetable Garden
Flowers present more than just a colorful addition when planted among the vegetables. They attract pollinating insects that fertilize all of the crops that depend on pollination to produce a vegetable (or fruit). I know my kitchen garden is a haven for bees and butterflies every summer, I attribute most of my good yields from those little fluttering buzzing darlings.
Here are the top 5 ways that flowers help vegetable gardens.
1. Keep Weeds Out
The covering soil in a plant holds water while also blocking harmful weeds from growing. Not having to handpick weeds daily is almost enough reason in itself to give flowers for the vegetable garden a try!
2. Attract Pollinators
We all know bees are crucial for pollinating our growing plants and keeping them thriving. Lure those beneficial insects into your garden by providing a snack! By incorporating flowers into your veggie garden, you can also bring in those helpful butterflies and hummingbirds too.
3. Keep Diseases At Bay
Just like with dense groups of people, diseases will spread more quickly through gardens that have larger groups of plants of the same type. Adding a variety of species to a garden can help the plants of the same species by slowing the spread of disease.
4. Decreased Pest Problems
With this new type of garden layout, you afford your plants an extra measure of protection. In some cases, flowers may distract or repel harmful insects such as aphids. There are specific bugs such as ladybugs, wasps, and hoverflies that are particularly helpful for your garden as they control pests naturally—no harmful chemicals necessary.
5. Saves Space
Planting flowers and vegetables together is a perfect method for people trying to make the most of small garden spaces. A common way to use companion planting is to vary the heights of your plants intentionally. Take advantage of the extra room underneath those tall climbing plants and plant some shorter flowers.
Not only will this look nice, but the flowers will root and spread, which will prevent the spread of weeds. Additionally, you can also try alternating faster-growing crops with slower ones side by side.
6. Improves Soil
Some flowers also act as soil improvers, keeping everything in balance either by fixing nutrients in the soil or by working as green manures if dug into the ground at an early age. Of course, some will look pretty, but they will still attract all those beneficial insects and keep your garden’s ecosystem running properly.
What Flowers Are Good To Plant With Vegetables?
When you are choosing flowers for the vegetable garden and trying to decide which plants to put together, it can be hard to know where to start. One simple method is to try matching plants and veggies together by their needs. Put plants that need plenty of sunlight together, along with plants that prefer wet soil or dry. For example, if you want to plant flowers that do well with part shade, plant them, so that tall vegetable plants partially cover them.
Calendula is a cheery, yellow flower that will make you smile each time you see it. This annual bloom can grow 18-24 inches tall, and while they are considered an edible flower, they have a pretty bitter taste—so you may want to admire this one instead of eating it!
Calendula repels some pests, such as moths and cabbage worms, while also attracting some harmful ones like aphids. So why would you want to draw in aphids? Attracting them means you’ll be pulling them away from your edibles, keeping them beautiful and safe.
If you’re looking for an easy, beautiful plant to grow, look no further than Cosmos. Plant these, and you can expect to see a bounty of beautiful blooms. Cosmos have the added attraction of also drawing in helpful insects that, in return, will eat the harmful ones you don’t want in your garden.
Cosmos is an easy to grow, hardy annual with feathery foliage and beautiful single or semi-double blooms that are superb for cutting. Bees and butterflies love it, making it super useful later in the season to draw in pollinators for your tomatoes or other crops. Cosmos are also one of the fastest growing flowers in your garden!
I like to plant these flowers around the outside of my garden all the way around the rim they do a wonderful job of keeping the aphids off my tomatoes!
Nectar-rich zinnia flowers are magnets for bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. They are also popular with hummingbirds. The nice thing about zinnias is they multiply quickly, making them one of the ideal flowers for the vegetable garden. You can snip a few blooms to enjoy indoors without worrying about gaping holes left behind, as another zinnia is sure to sprout soon after to fill the space!
I grow zinnias pretty much anywhere I have a spare space because I love them for cut flowers as well. I add a few on the corner of my garden beds, in baskets, in buckets, and anything else I can stuff soil into. Since zinnias grow so quickly from seed. They make a wonderful and easy flower to plant in any garden.
Lavender is a known insect repellent and effective pest deterrent. This flowering herb also repels mice, ticks, and moths while being very attractive to bees and butterflies. Plus, it smells fantastic! Lavender is a perennial in most places.
Make sure when you decide on where you’re going to plant it, it’s the spot you want to keep it. I like adding baskets of lavender to my garden, so I can store it away for the winter. In my cold northern garden lavender plants usually do not make it through our harsh winters. Planting the lavender in baskets makes it easy at the end of the season to cut back the flowers and tuck the plants away in my basement for spring.
Lavender also makes an absolutely gorgeous fence around the vegetable garden.
Marigolds deter pests both above and below the ground while looking bright and cheery at the same time.
Marigolds repel a wide variety of creatures and pests that are harmful to your garden, including squash bugs, tomato hornworms, whiteflies, and even rabbits. Interestingly enough, some Marigolds will also give off a special chemical that kills root nematodes in the soil, making them highly useful plants around your tomatoes and potatoes.
These little brightly colored flowers are always present under my tomato and pepper plants. I add them to almost every single garden bed every year.
The showy flowers and foliage of nasturtiums are a favorite to keep among the edible options. These are an excellent option for fall crops as these flowers prefer cooler temps. During those months, the hardworking nasturtium will pull its weight by helping to protect against squash bugs and beetles, as well as acting as a living mulch for the soil.
Nasturtium seeds are some of the first seeds I plant in my garden. As soon as my soil is warm enough to put out my seeds for lettuce and spinach, I start to add my nasturtium seeds to my squash beds, and a few garden bed corners. By the time June rolls around the Nastruims are well on their way, and they are usually the first flowers I see bloom.
There are several different varieties of nasturtiums that can fill a few different needs. You can find seeds that trail and wander along with pumpkin and squash vines. You can also purchase nasturtium seeds that climb, perfect for fences and trellises. If you’re short on space, there are also a few cultivars of nasturtiums that grow in tidy little bunches.
That’s it: six flowers for the vegetable garden to help it thrive. Try adding flowers to your vegetable garden to attract helpful pollinators and insects while repelling unwanted pests – all without the use of chemicals.