5 Flowers You Should Grow in the Vegetable Garden
There are many flowers that can be beneficial to your garden. The ones below were selected for ease of growing and the multiple benefits that each provides. This is definitely not an exhaustive list – there are so many more beneficial flower varieties out there! Without further ado, here are the 5 flowers you should grow in the vegetable garden.
The bright blossoms of marigolds and the strong scent are what make these flowers a great addition to vegetable gardens. These are very popular flowers among vegetable gardeners. The bright colors of marigolds vary from yellow, orange, and red. The colors attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, while the scent is said to deter pests. Interplanting marigolds with your vegetables like beans, tomatoes, and squash can help deter pests and small rodents. The roots of marigolds are also very beneficial. Planting marigolds in your garden during a down season and tilling your marigolds into your bed can help with nematodes.
Marigolds also make excellent borders. In the past, I’ve alternated between the big, bright blossoms of marigolds with the delicate, purple flowers of Mexican heather around my raised garden beds. They both deterred pests and attracted beneficial insects. When planting marigolds you can start them from seeds or transplants. I’ve used transplants for years but recently started planting marigolds from seeds to save money. Check out these marigold seed varieties for inspiration.
Sunflowers are bright, cheery flowers. They can also be mammoth is size. Sunflower varieties range from 2 feet in height all the way up to 12 feet in height (though the tallest recorded was actually 30 feet!). Sunflowers can be any shade in between a light yellow to a deep burgundy. They attract beneficial insects, and can also be used as a trap crop for stinkbugs and aphids. Small blossoms make beautiful cut flowers for bouquets and large blossoms can provide healthy edible seeds. Sunflowers can also help detox your soil. Sunflowers are “phytoremediators” which means they can remove toxic heavy metals and poisonous chemicals in the soil. Check out these sunflower seed varieties for inspiration.
Borage produces a striking, vibrant blue flower that is also edible. The bright blue flowers attract bees. The flowers fade to a soft pink with age which is also quite beautiful. Borage is a bit gangly and wild and can reseed where it’s planted by the seeds that fall, so keep that in mind when you plant it. Borage is an herb where both flowers and leaves can be eaten. The leaves have a velvety feel and taste lightly of cucumber. Leaves are better eaten when they’re small and tender.
Borage is great if you have an area dedicated for flowers or as a companion plant among your vegetables. When planting with vegetables it may need to be maintained a bit, but it is known for deterring tomato hornworms, cabbage worms, and can even add trace minerals to the soil. Borage can be used in compost or as a fertilizer tea, similar to comfrey.
If I could give one flower a gold star for bee attraction in my garden, it would be the hedge of Mexican heather that I keep around my garden beds. It’s not uncommon during the spring to count 50+ honey bees stopping by for a quick meal.
Bee attraction is actually what originally attracted me to this plant. While at a nursery looking at flowers, I decided to go with what attracted the most bees while I was there. That’s when I spotted some Mexican heather plants that were covered in bees. Without knowing anything else about the plant I decided to purchase some.
Luckily for me, not only did it attract beneficial insects, but it was also a good match for my location. Mexican heather, also known as false heather, can be grown in the south where temperatures are warm. They can be grown as a perennial in hardiness zones 9 and above (when covered during frosts), and as an annual in cooler climates. It’s also a hardy plant, despite the delicate looking flowers. It’s heat and drought tolerant. Mexican heather is great in a pot or used as a border. They grow anywhere from one to two feet tall and can be trimmed to size and shaped as desired.
Zinnias are an easy flower to grow from seeds. These beautiful, cheery flowers attract bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds! Their long stems make them nice cut flowers that you can make a bouquet from. They’re a great flower to grow with children and come in a variety of colors (some even two-toned). They’re great for warmer climates (like Florida) and can take the summer heat. Zinnias are also low maintenance and do alright if you forget to water them. Depending on the variety that you grow, they can get anywhere from 1 foot tall to 4 feet tall. Taller varieties do well planted in clusters or staked with single stem support stakes. Check out these zinnia seed varieties for inspiration.