5 Reasons to Plant Flowers in Your Garden

“The path has a cottage garden on both sides; clumps of old-fashioned flowers ran all over each other: lamb’s ear, mint, & rhubarb, roses, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts & wisteria. I walked very slowly, savoring.” – Susan Branch

My garden used to be very utilitarian. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and it served its purpose well. But I also found myself poring over pictures of cottage gardens or even vegetable gardens with splashes of magenta, peach, and vivid orange and they would always make me smile.

At the same time, I’ve started studying herbalism, ever so slowly, because I want to learn plants outside of my usual repertoire – and I want to learn how to use my usual plants better and with more diversity.

So, last year when I planted my garden, I started sprinkling flowers among the veggies in wild abandon, so it might appear to onlookers, but in earnest, these color bombs were actually being planted very strategically.Plant flowers in vegetable garden

5 Reasons to Plant Flowers in Your Garden

1. Pollinator Attractant
I planted borage everywhere to bring in the pollinators. (Word of wisdom: These plants get huge, even the first year you plant them, so be careful where they go. Also, if you plant too many and they start choking your garden the roots are DEEP and it’s going to take some serious effort to  convince them to let go of their garden home so only put them where they can have some space.

2. Natural Pest Control (Call in the Cavalry!)
Marigolds got to be interspersed within all of the plants which makes the garden absolutely lovely! However, they aren’t all for show! They attract predatory insects who love to snack on aphids.

Speaking of aphids, I also love alyssum in my garden and I plant it liberally. It fills the gaps with those lovely little white flowers and it makes my garden smell heavenly. And although we love the smell, some insects are less than impressed and will fly the other way.

Nicotiana is another plant that gets planted liberally, especially around and in my greenhouse which is where the aphids are hardest to control. Nicotiana is sticky and when aphids or other plant predators who are attracted to it land on the leaves, they can’t get away (yes, I do have an evil laugh that I use when I see those nicotiana covered with bugs that are stuck fast.)

3. Teas and Salves
Beyond predator control and aesthetics though, flowers in the garden have many other uses! I plant calendula to make salves and to use in salads. I will also be dehydrating some for tea this year, too.

4. Water Retention
Lemon Balm isn’t a flower, but I think of it as one because it smells so good and it’s just such a beautiful plant and it gets several little spots in the garden, too. I like to plant it with my leggy green beans because it helps retain the moisture when I water because it’s so low growing. Alyssum actually does the same thing, so there’s another plug for alyssum!

5. Beauty
Although my vegetable garden is beautiful on its own in my opinion, these splashes of color add just the right aesthetic to make the garden more of a cozy oasis. What I think is fun about planting flowers is that oftentimes the actual flowers bloom after the veggies are done blooming so first we get the pretty white strawberry blossoms along with the purple of the green beans and the yellow of the honeyberry. Then the lovely flowers that are interspersed take over and they really show off.

Tips for Planting Flowers

Although I do believe flowers are a must in any garden, there are a few things to watch for. First, like with my borage mentioned above, be mindful of how big the plant will get. Their job is to accent and be helpers, not take over.

Also, be sure you plant varieties that are like-minded. What type of soil do they prefer? How often do they need watered? Do they prefer full sun or partial shade? Once you think through all of the pitfalls, you can enjoy your lovely cottage garden to its fullest.

One last note: Be sure to take time to enjoy your garden throughout the summer. I’ve had summers that I booked myself so full that walks to the garden were entirely utilitarian and I’ve learned that my garden is much lovelier with flowers and I am much lovelier to be around when I’ve taken the time to enjoy it all.

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Becky Patterson
Becky Patterson
1 month ago

Great ideas!!!! You are so inspiring!!!!
Thank you

Judy C
Judy C
1 month ago

Been gardening for over 50 years, and I’ve never had a garden bed without flowers! Helps so much with pollination of the vegetables, especially cucumbers. Additionally, some plants I allow to blot, flower and go to seed. The bees go wild for the flowers and I get free crops from the seeds. At summers end, I always save one of my large beds for cilantro, which reseeds every year. During winter I have all the cilantro I can use, when warm weather comes and it starts blooming, the bees are all over it. I let it go to seed and the process starts again. It’s a wonderful synergy!

Denise Brown
Denise Brown
21 days ago

My gardens have been receiving more pests year by year. I will be trying some of these ideas in my garden

Reply to  Denise Brown
16 days ago

We hope these tips help, Denise!

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