As most gardeners know, flowers and vegetables often coexist in harmony. Flowers provide aesthetic appeal and attract pollinators, while vegetables offer healthy food options. But did you know that some flowers make better companions for vegetables than others?
Companion gardening is a method of gardening in which different plants are grown together to benefit from each other’s company. This type of gardening is used to improve the yield of crops, deter pests, and attract beneficial insects. Companion gardening is thought to have originated in ancient China, where farmers would grow different plants side by side to improve the health of their crops.
Today, companion gardening is still widely used by farmers and home gardeners alike.
When choosing plants for companion gardening, consider the needs of each plant. Some plants need more sunlight than others, while others are better at deterring pests. By matching the right plants together, gardeners can create a thriving and productive garden that is less susceptible to pests and disease.
Here are the top 5 flower companions to consider for your vegetable garden:
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Another member of the daisy family, zinnias, are annual flowers in a wide range of colors, including pink, purple, red, white, and yellow.
One of the reasons they make such good companion plants for a vegetable garden is that they attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. This can benefit both the zinnias and the vegetables, as pollinators transfer pollen between the flowers, helping to produce seeds and fertilize the vegetables.
Zinnias repel harmful insects such as aphids, bean beetles, and squash bugs. They produce a chemical that inhibits the growth of fungi, which further helps prevent disease in vegetables. Finally, zinnias provide visual interest and can brighten up a vegetable garden.
Also known as “pot marigold,” calendula is a cheerful annual that blooms in shades of yellow, orange, and red. Calendula is easy to grow and makes a great companion for vegetables because it attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies while repelling harmful pests like aphids.
Calendulas produce a chemical that helps repel certain root-knot nematodes, making them an effective means of protecting vegetables from this type of damage. Interestingly, the plant’s flowers are edible and can be used as a colorful garnish on salads or other dishes.
The flower’s petals can also be dried and used to make tea. Calendula is a hardy plant that does not require much care, making it an ideal choice for busy gardeners.
A staple in many gardens, marigolds come in various colors, including yellow, orange, and red. Marigolds release pyrethrin, a substance known to repel harmful pests like whiteflies, making them a great natural pest control option for your garden.
Marigolds are annual flowers that are easy to grow and require little attention. They have a strong fragrance thought to repel pests such as aphids, nematodes, and some species of beetles.
Additionally, the flowers produce a chemical that can harm some plants, making them an effective way to prevent weeds from growing in your garden. When planting marigolds, choose a location with full sun and well-drained soil. If you are growing them in pots, ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent the roots from getting wet.
You can start seeds indoors about eight weeks before the last frost date or purchase plants from a nursery. Marigolds bloom from mid-summer until the first frost. To encourage continuous blooming, deadhead spent flowers by cutting them back to the base of the plant.
With proper care, marigolds will thrive in most gardens and make excellent companion plants.
These vining annuals are available in various colors, including yellow, orange, red, and pink. Nasturtiums make great companions for vegetables because they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies while repelling destructive pests like aphids and cucumber beetles.
Nasturtiums also attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, which help to control pests. In addition, the flowers produce a chemical that deters cucumber beetles, making them an excellent plant to grow alongside cucumbers. The leaves of nasturtiums are edible. They have a peppery flavor that adds a zesty zing to salads.
So, the next time you plan your garden, don’t overlook the humble nasturtium – it just might be the perfect companion for your veggies.
A member of the daisy family, the cosmos is a brightly colored annual that comes in shades of pink, purple, white, and red. Cosmos grows quickly and can reach heights of up to 6 feet, making it a perfect choice for filling in bare spots in your garden.
Cosmos flowers are also excellent companions for vegetables because they attract beneficial insects like ladybugs while repelling destructive pests like tomato hornworms.
Flowers are a great way to add beauty, color, and interest to your vegetable garden. You can create a healthy and thriving garden by choosing companion flowers that attract pollinators and deter pests.