Why Vegetables Need Friends
Why Vegetables Need Friends
March 6, 2018
Planting flowers in the vegetable garden will deter pests and add beauty. Learn more in this video about the benefits of companion planting with flowers—and discover the best flowers to grow.
Attract Beneficial Insects
Grow flowers such as calendula (marigolds) in or near to your vegetable garden to attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies (syrphid flies) that feed on pests.
Growing flowers amongst veggies creates a mosaic of colors, textures and aromas that will literally throw many insects off the scent. Some flowers, for instance marigolds, will repel pests like whitefly while at the same time attracting beneficial insects.
If a bed will be empty for a time between crops, sow a flowering cover crop such as buckwheat or phacelia. The flowers will attract pest-gobbling bugs while the foliage smothers weeds. Many cover crops will also help improve soil structure and fertility.
Low-growing, non-invasive flowers with wide leaves or dense foliage—for instance, marigolds or poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)—sown between rows of vegetables can also help to keep weeds to a minimum.
Annuals, Biennials and Perennials
Annual flowers complete their life cycle within a year, while biennials grow in the first year, and flower in the second. They can be grown alongside veggies, separately in a dedicated bed, or even as a mini wildflower meadow.
Hardy annuals can often be sown in the fall. Rake soil to a fine tilth them scatter the seeds and rake them in. In subsequent years, many annual and biennial flowers, such as poppies, foxgloves, cornflowers and calendula, will self-seed so you won’t need to sow them again.
Perennial flowers die down in winter but resprout each year. They’re a great choice for growing in borders near the vegetable garden to draw in pest predators and pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths.
Excellent perennial flowers to grow include helenium, astrantia, monarda, penstemons and hollyhocks. Many perennial herbs such as oregano also have flowers that are beneficial insects love.
Plan Your Flowers
Remember to make space for flowers when planning where you’re going to grow vegetables.
Our online Garden Planner includes a selection of suitable flowers.
- Once you’re in the Garden Planner, click on the ‘Information’ button of a flower in the selection bar to discover why that plant is useful, suggested companions, and full growing instructions.
- Click on the flower to select it then drop it into your plan, using the corner handles to expand or contract the block as necessary. The handy Plant List shows you when all the plants in your plan can be sown, harvested…or simply admired!
Try the Garden Planner for free for 7 days—ample time to plan a garden!