Many experienced gardeners know that when cultivating vegetables some varieties grow particularly well together, but there are also vegetables that do not play well with others. These truths are the basis of the concept of companion planting. The links below are previous blog posts we have written on this topic:
Did you know there are flowers you can grow which are beneficial to your vegetables too? Flowers can attract beneficial insects to your garden, which target pests that damage and harm your vegetables. These beneficial insects include well-known creatures such as Ladybugs and the Praying Mantis. There are also flowers that repel harmful insects. These helpful plants reduce the need to use pesticides around your edibles. You can plant these beneficial flowers as a protective border around your vegetable patch or try mixing them in amongst the vegetable plants themselves.
Here are six flowers that are beneficial when planted with certain vegetables:
Calendula – These pretty orange and yellow flowers can brighten your cold-weather vegetable garden which make them a good flower to plant with Brassica crops, especially Broccoli. Other cool-weather vegetables that can benefit from the presence of Calendula flowers are Beets, Peas, Carrots, Collards, Lettuce, and Kale. The flowers radiate a sticky substance on their stems that attract aphids and the Ladybugs which consume them. The flowers also attract additional beneficial insects such as hoverflies and green lacewings.
Chamomile – Chamomile is actually an herb with attractive white and yellow flowers. Chamomile is good to grow with Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage, Onion, Beans, and Cucumbers. The flowers are also beneficial to gardeners themselves as they repel ticks and mosquitoes. Chamomile is easy to grow from seed. It sprouts quickly and spreads easily. The flower can be steeped in hot water for a calming tea and once the plant is spent you can chop it up and toss it on your flower bed to decay and enrich your soil.
Coreopsis – The tall bright yellow flowers of this perennial North American native are related to the Sunflower. Their height makes them useful around vegetables that grow vertically. Plant them near your Pole Beans, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes. Coreopsis flowers attract pollinators as well as beneficial insects including Ladybugs, Hoverflies, Lacewings, and parasitic Wasps. Shorter versions of Coreopsis are ideal for planting near shorter edibles including Basil, Eggplant, Kale, and Peppers.
Marigold – Marigold flowers are well known for their strong scent. French Marigolds repel whiteflies and kill destructive nematodes in the soil. Mexican Marigolds also deter many destructive insects. Plant taller varieties near Tomatoes, Beans, Cucumbers, and other climbing vegetables. Try growing some of the shorter varieties mixed in with Kale and other greens as well as Bush Beans, Peppers, and Squash plants. Some gardeners swear that Marigolds will also keep rabbits and mosquitoes out of your garden too. There are unscented varieties of Marigold available, but they will not be of any benefit in your vegetable garden.
Nasturtium – This flower is grown for its green foliage and the flowers which come in bright, pretty hues of yellow, orange, and red. The edible leaves and flowers have a peppery taste and give off a strong scent that repels pests. Plant them near Tomatoes and Cucumbers so they can help combat aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. It is also good to grow Nasturtiums near Beans, Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, Pumpkins, Squash, and Corn. The yellow flowers are particularly good for trapping aphids. Nasturtiums can be allowed to spread over the ground, which has the added benefit of keeping weeds suppressed.
Sweet Alyssum – Sweet Alyssum has delicate little flowers that spread along the ground and bloom all season long. The white flowering varieties of this plant attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies which control aphids. The flowers are helpful around cool weather crops including Lettuce, Broccoli, Kale, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Red Beets, Chives, Leeks, Onions, and Shallots. Sweet Alyssum is also effective with warm weather herbs and vegetables such as Eggplant, Basil, and Bush Beans.
Please let us know if there are any flowers you have used successfully to deter pests in your vegetable patch!