Why You Should Always Plant Flowers With Your Vegetables

Flowers aren't just for looking pretty.

The boom in gardening that started during the pandemic doesn't show any signs of letting up. But after the initial excitement of planning and planting, many of us stare at our not-so-robust plants and realize the reality of gardening doesn't match those dreamy social media photos. Most gardening lessons are learned by trial and error, but picking up tips from experienced growers is a big help. For example, did you know that it's best to plant flowers amongst your veggies?

Companion planting, or putting bee-friendly flowers (or flowers that repel pests) and vegetables in the same beds, is an easy and natural strategy to keep plants healthy and increase your harvest.

Growing flowers in your vegetable bed attracts native bees and other beneficial insects. These helpful bugs help spread pollen around, which encourages your vegetable plants to grow, breed, and produce food.

The experts at The Old Farmer's Almanac say petunias are great for keeping away squash bugs, and tomato hornworms are a smart companion plant for beans, tomatoes, and corn. Marigolds repel pests like cabbage worms and also attract beneficial insects. Chives and other alliums ward off deer as well as insect pests, and have pretty lavender flowers too. Zinnias, sweet alyssum, and cosmos are all beautiful annuals, and they also attract pollinators to your vegetable garden. Adding herbs and letting them flower is another way to attract beneficial insects. Thyme and dill are especially effective.

To figure out the best flowers to add to your vegetable garden, first select flowers that will bloom at the same time as your veggie crops. Check your seed packets to make sure their timelines match up. You also want to be conscious of the kind of flowers you are planting. Flowers with a composite shape, like zinnias, cosmos, daisies, sunflowers, and purple coneflower, are best for attracting pollinators.

You can also check out Xerces Society's region-by-region guide to pollinator-friendly plants. It includes information on bloom time, height, and watering needs.

Happy planting, y'all!

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