Flowers to Plant Near a Vegetable Garden

comments (0) March 26th, 2015

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MarigoldsClick To Enlarge



Growing a vegetable garden pays off with delicious, fresh produce to enjoy during the summer, but it may not be the most attractive use of your garden space. That's why many gardeners want to plant some flowers as well, particularly around the borders of the garden. The other major perk of growing flowers near vegetables is that many types of flowers attract bees and other pollinators, and some flowers can even help ward off common vegetable garden pests. This year, consider growing one or more types of flowers near your vegetable garden.

Marigolds: If you're only going to grow one type of flower near your vegetable garden, make it the marigold. These pretty yellow flowers do more than bring beauty to your garden through their blooms, which butterflies love. They attract bees to pollinate your vegetable plants and hoverflies to pollinate plants and eat smaller flies that are garden pests. The flowers also repel aphids, which are one of the most obnoxious pests if you're growing greens. Another perk of marigolds, especially French marigolds, is that their roots secrete a substance that can kill root-eating nematodes that may be in your soil. Plant the seeds outdoors after the last frost and barely cover them with soil. Keep them moist while they become established and then thin seedlings to about 6 to 12 inches apart.

Cornflowers: Bees are especially attracted to blue and purple flowers, which makes cornflowers an ideal option for your garden. Plus, the leaves of the cornflower plant will release nectar even before the flowers bloom, which helps attract pollinators early in the growing season. These are best to plant in the fall so they have plenty of time to get established before the spring rolls around, but you can also plant them outdoors in early spring. They are self sowing, so they will drop their seeds and grow new plants in the same area next year.

Calendula: Also known as pot marigolds, these pretty flowers have a long list of benefits. First, they will attract bees and hoverflies to your garden to pollinate vegetable plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash. Second, the plants have edible petals that you can use as a garnish on your summer plates or put in soups and stir fries. Lastly, calendula has many medicinal properties when steeped in water to drink as a tea or soaked in oil to be rubbed on the skin as a salve. Sow these seeds outdoors a few weeks before the last frost because they do best in cooler spring temperatures. You can also plant in late summer for fall blooms.

Nasturtiums: If you enjoy growing leafy greens or tomatoes, chances are, you have seen aphids in your garden too. These small flies cling to the bottoms of leaves and eat them, damaging the plants and making a lot more work for you as you clean your greens before eating them. This year, plant nasturtiums in your garden as a trap crop. Aphids love these plants, and they'll usually leave your vegetables alone if they have nasturtiums to eat instead. Sow seeds about a half inch deep and a foot apart in an area of your garden that gets full sun. The plants will grow quickly, especially if you water them regularly.

Cosmos: If you have space for a taller plant, opt for cosmos, which comes in a wide variety of beautiful warm colors, including pink, red, yellow, orange, and classic white. The flowers attract hoverflies for pollination and lacewings and parasitic wasps to take care of some of your garden pests. Most varieties of cosmos will end up growing to three feet tall, so they're best at the back of your garden. Sow directly in the soil in the spring and keep the seeds evenly moist until the plants are established, at which point they don't need much water at all.

If you have a small vegetable garden, you may not want to plant all of these flowers every year. Instead, pick a few with diverse benefits that best match your goals. Plant them along the borders of your vegetable garden beds to make these areas more visually attractive. If you grow vegetables just outside your house, choose taller flowers that you can plant directly next to your house. Not only will your garden look beautiful, but you'll also enjoy a more abundant vegetable harvest, thanks to the many benefits of these flowers.

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