Planting flowers in your vegetable garden is a great way to reduce pests and increase biodiversity.
Everyone loves pretty flowers throughout their garden beds, but you might not knowing that there are some good reasons for planting flowers with vegetables.
Sure, it looks awesome. My garden beds full of marigolds and tomatoes looks visually beautiful, but gardeners have to think about the added bonuses.
Why You Need to Plant Flowers in Your Vegetable Garden
Many gardeners plant a border of flowers around the perimeter of your beds, but you might want to consider plant flowers among the veggies. Don’t be afraid to be different!
Attracts Beneficial Insects
Not all insects are bad to have in your garden. Some are considered beneficial because they attack pests on your crops. If you cannot attract beneficial insects, you actually can buy them to be released in your garden.
Chances are you don’t want to go through the process of buying insects. Planting flowers in the vegetable garden is a simple way to encourage them to visit naturally.
There is no question that pollinators are vital to the success of your vegetable garden. Without pollinators, most of our crops would never fruit unless we took hand pollinating to the extreme.
And let’s be honest, hand pollinating on a large scale farm would be close to impossible.
When you plant flowers in your garden beds, it increases the amount of pollinators that visit. You need pollinators for so many of your favorite summer veggies, like cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini!
Creates a Biodiverse Ecosystem
Companion planting in your vegetable garden is a permaculture practice that integrates different parts of the garden. Doing so makes your entire garden more diverse and efficient; it brings a natural balance to your veggie garden.
Leads to a Healthier Garden
In addition to everything else, your garden will be healthier if you add flowers – SERIOUSLY!
Flowers help to keep the soil in place reducing erosion. When their roots die back, they help to feed the beneficial soil organisms.
How to Plant Flowers in the Veggie Garden
You can pick between planting annual or perennial flowers in your vegetable garden. There are pros and cons for each – perennials are cost effective and come back yearly, but you really can’t move them unless you’re propagating more.
Here are some suggested ways to plant flowers in vegetable gardens.
- Alternate rows of flowers with rows of vegetables. It doesn’t have to be every other row. When you’re practicing succession planting, you typically plant 2-4 rows of a crop or more than one crop. End that planting session with a row of flowers.
- Sprinkle flower seeds throughout the soil when the rest of the garden is being planted in the spring.
- Plant flowers on the perimeter of your beds, creating a border.
Learning and Yearning offer another example. This garden bed has eggplants, peppers, okra, and tomatoes among the flowers.
How to Create Interesting Flower & Veggie Combos
Perhaps the best part of planting flowers in a veggie garden is coming up with the different combos of colors, sizes, and textures. While flowers do have practical applications in your garden, they also do make for an overall better-looking garden.
We are breaking molds people! Forget the idea that flowers and vegetables need to be separated and let your creativity run free.
Here are some ideas to create cool combos!
1. Stagger Sizes
Look at the height and width of each flower, and take care to plant them accordingly. You should put taller plants in the back so they don’t block the small plants from view or sunlight.
It’s best to plant the taller plants on the north and eat sides of the garden. Put the short plants on the south and west sides.
2. Pick Complementary Colors
Everyone loves a good color palette. Looks for flower colors that will highlight the colors of your veggies, or you can pick a hue on the opposite side of the color wheel for that extra pop. Foliage matters as well look for different shades of green for extra depth.
3. Be Mindful of Proportions
While mixing heights and sizes can be fun, putting a massive sunflower plant next to your small Swiss chard plant would look awkward. It’s best to do gradual changes of height, which is how your eye naturally travels.
4. Mix Textures and Shapes
Have you ever felt the textures of the leaves on your plants? Or spend time comparing the size of the leaves?
Squash have large, rough leaves, bu basil and nasturtiums have smaller, smooth leaves. Try mix-matching!
5. Add Flowers for All Seasons
You might not realize that flowers have a range of blooming times. Some flowers bloom in the early spring, and others wait until the late fall.
When you plant flowers that bloom in different seasons, it not only changes the appearance of your garden, but it gives pollinators a steady source of pollen and nectar.
10 Flowers to Plant in The Vegetable Garden
The great thing is that you have the choice of dozens of flowers. I typically stick to annuals, but I do have a few favorite perennial flowers for veggie gardens. Annuals give more flexible because I practice crop rotation, so I need to arrange my flowers to go with the crops in that garden bed.
Here are some of my favorites!
Calendula is more than just a lovely flower; it’s also a powerhouse medicinal herb. It’s an annual herb that grows yellow, daisy-like flowers that reach 18-24 inches tall.
Something that makes calendula a fantastic companion plant is that it creates a sticky sap that will trap pests, such as aphids and whiteflies. That helps to keep those pests away from your veggies.
Also, calendula attracts a variety of pollinators and beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and hoverflies.
I feel as if marigolds are the underdog. They’re such a common plant that no one thinks of them as a powerhouse choice, but they really are.
Marigolds deter pests above and below ground while growing spreading around your garden. A single marigold blooms into a large bouquet if you continue to deadhead it.
Marigolds work for a variety of pests and critters that might bother your vegetable garden. Rabbits won’t cross lines of marigolds and some pests find it confusing when you plant marigolds near bean plants. They also repel other pests, such as:
- Squash Bugs
- Tomato Hornworms
- Root Nematodes
Did you know that nasturtiums are an edible, annual flower? The leaves and flowers have a delicious, peppery flavor that also has a strong scent to repel pests. Nasturtiums are known for deterring:
- Squash Bugs
- Aphids (Acts as a trap crop)
Nasturtiums are a dense, low-growing flowers that work as a living mulch because it covers the soil under taller crops. Then, as it dies back, it feeds the soil.
Nasturtiums have large seeds, so it’s easy to learn how to collect them and replant for the next year. In some cases, they’ll reseed themselves.
4. California Poppy
If you’re looking for some quick to bloom flowers, California poppy is a great option. They fill empty garden beds quickly, and they even handle clay soil well. These flowers have deep roots that can soften up clay-like soil, making it softer and lighter.
California poppy has lovely lacy foliage that beneficial insects love. The plants reach 12 inches tall.
Aside from being the most iconic herb that you can grow in your garden, the lovely blooms and fragrance make it a beautiful flower to add to your veggie garden as well. You might find the scent appealing – because it’s awesome – but it is used to repel a variety of garden pests.
We know that deer avoid lavender at all costs, so planting it as a perimeter plant helps keep them away. Ticks also dislike lavender. That doesn’t mean you won’t have any ticks, but it reduces the number considerably.
If you want to attract more bees to your garden, zinnias are a fantastic choice because the flowers are full of nectar. These flowers are a magnet for bees and other pollinators, as well as hummingbird.
Another reason to consider planting zinnia in the vegetable garden is that you can use them as cut flowers without worrying about gaps from your cutting.
7. German Chamomile
It’s hard not to love growing chamomile. The plant produces dainty, adorable flowers with lacy foliage, and it’s known for attracting pollinators and beneficial insects.
Chamomile plants reach 12 inches tall with super deep roots designed to find as much nutrients as possible. At the end of the season, you can cu the plant back to add nutrients back into the soil.
Borage is a great addition, especially if you love the look of a cottage garden. Cottage gardens have that messy look without formal borders, and borage has a gangly growth pattern.
Borage is an herb, so it fits right with your veggie garden. Not only is it delightful for pollinators, but the leaves and flowers are edible. You’ll notice an almost cucumber-like flavor when adding borage to dishes.
If you struggle to grow flowers as I do sometimes, cosmos are a great choice. They grow and bloom profusely, even for new and inexperienced gardeners.
One of the best reasons to add cosmos to your garden is because they attract dozens of helpful insects to your garden. We know that the variety of cosmos called “Cosmic Orange” attract green lacewings which eat pests such as aphids and thrips.
It’s hard to find an more iconic flower that is also edible – who doesn’t love munching on sunflower seeds? They are an excellent choice for flowers to plant in your vegetable garden.
Aside from being an awesome snack, sunflowers can act as a trellis for climbing plants, and they also can attract pollinators.
Planting Flowers in a Vegetable Garden
You don’t need to limit your veggie garden just to edibles. There are plenty of herbs and flowers to plant in a vegetable garden. Doing so gives you a way to naturally repel pests while also beautifying your garden space.