With both beauty and functionality, flowers are a must have in any vegetable garden. And I admit that I only began putting them in my garden because I wanted fresh flowers to bring inside. Little did I know at the time, they serve a much greater purpose.
Benefits of Flowers in the Garden
- Bring on the pollinators– I know this is probably common knowledge, but bees love flowers, and flowers love bees. There’s a reason many flowers are brightly colored; it’s to draw in pollinators. And while bees pollinating and drinking nectar from your flowers is a good thing itself, this also means those bees can pollinate your other plants as well.
- Color! Why not think about beauty and aesthetics when it comes to planning your garden space? Flowers provide eye candy for your growing area. And doesn’t that make you want to spend more time out there? Beauty draws us in, and I’m more willing to weed and fertilize my garden if it’s a pleasant and enjoyable place to be.
- Natural repellants– Some varieties of flowers will actually help keep insects and other pests at bay. If you’re trying to keep your garden as insecticide free as possible, then be sure to consider what types of flowers can help you accomplish this. (See the list below for suggestions.)
- Decor– Each year I plant several varieties of flowers in the garden, and at least one I use primarily for cutting and bringing inside. For the past several years, my choice has been zinnias. They’re brightly colored, easy to grow, and are tall and lean (so they don’t get in the way on the ground). While you’re harvesting and bringing in those veggies and herbs, why not bring in some beautiful blooms to brighten up your dining table or counter?
My Favorite Garden Flowers-
Marigolds– They truly are the workhorse of the garden. Each year I plant marigolds in 2 of my 4 raised beds. They help to repel insects that could damage growing plants, as well as nematodes that attack from underneath. The bonus is that they’re beautiful with their vibrant color, and they bloom for months. Last year I finally had to start cutting mine back; they tried to take over! The picture above is one plant that flowed out of the raised bed and almost across the path. And it still had blooms to spare!
Sunflowers- These tall beauties are a favorite of the little gardeners. And they can be beneficial in several ways: first, they can help shade plants that may not tolerate full sun in the spring/summer garden. Secondly, some varieties can be harvested themselves for seeds that you can eat. While sunflowers are generally beneficial, do plant them away from potatoes and beans, since the roots of a sunflower produce a chemical that can harm these plants.
Zinnias– While I love zinnias primarily because of their “decoration” factor for my home and garden, they also require very little maintenance. Summer gardens take time and care, so it’s nice to have some plants that don’t need much tending. Many varieties grow tall and lean, so they leave room below for whatever else you may be growing. (I usually plant mine along the garden fence, so they have something to prop on if needed.) And though zinnias are perennial, their seeds are very easy to save at the end of the season, so you can have seeds ready to go for next year. Beautiful, low maintenance, and practical… that’s a winning combination in my garden!
Nasturtium- I skipped putting nasturtium in my garden last year, and I won’t make that mistake again. These low lying beauties help ward off troublesome insects and also give a boost to the plants growing around them. Squash borers have destroyed my summer squash plants for the past two season, but this year I’ll be armed with nasturtium and ace bandages (more on that to come in a later post). They’re also a great companion for cucumbers, okra, and melons since they deter aphids. With their blooms are beautiful, they add a lovely touch to any garden space. Some varieties have edible leaves as well, but I haven’t used any myself. Nasturtium salad, anyone?
I’d love to know what flowers you’re planning to plant in your garden this spring. Now is the time to get planning! Here’s a fun infographic to keep on hand to remind you of beneficial flowers to have in the garden: Have a great week and Happy Gardening!