Annual Flowers to Plant in Vegetable Gardens
Companion Planting or Military Defense?
Some friends have asked me why I "waste" good garden space with flowers. They tease me that I can't eat flowers. I answer that my flowers are not just pretty - they are my soldiers, too! Annual flowers are wonderful companions to the veggies that share my garden space.
Annual flowers are great at recruiting. They attract bees and ladybugs, good insects for the garden. My vegetable plants need pollination to bear delicious food for my kitchen. I say "Bring on the Bees!" And my plants don't need aphids and moths. I say "Bring on those Ladybugs!"
Other beasts of the field (could be small as a slug or as large as a deer) need to be rerouted away from destroying my harvest. Flowers can help distract these enemies who don't care for their taste or flowery scent.
My plan of attack is purely defensive. I don't want to kill any critters - I just want to keep them away from my food source. My garden military includes five types of beautiful annuals. Read on to see what I mean.
Nasturtiums - The Stealth Trappers
Nasturtiums are planted in a few bunches throughout the garden as they get along with everybody, except those bad aphids. These annuals can trap aphids and keep them busy, away from the veggies.
Bonus for my kitchen: nasturtiums are edible. They have a peppery taste and the leaves and flowers can be used in salad.
Protection from Evil
Marigolds Are My Border Patrol
My garden is next to a yard of evergreen trees that attract those adorable critters called bunny rabbits. Planting marigolds around the border of the garden deters them from lunching on my vegetables before I do. I plant a double row along the edge. I also use them as row markers, posting them at the ends of the rows of planted seeds, doing double duty.
I always purchase a few flats of these annuals from a local greenhouse. French and Mexican marigolds with orange and yellow blossoms are my favorite. Their scent helps keep unwanted guests at bay.
Impatiens in the Shade, Snapdragons in the Sun
To attract hummingbirds and bees, I plant other flowers. In the shady corner of the garden, I plant impatiens. The delicate flowers are easy to care for - no dead heading needed.
Then in the sunny corner, I plant a flower that my mother often had in her garden. The lovely snapdragon is good for cut flowers and the stems are good for mulching. Yes, every garden needs a snapdragon.
Sunflowers for the Air Force
Sunflowers attract flight maneuvers (and hopefully keep the air force from feeding on my sweet corn). Birds are attracted to them and birds can help with any flying bug problems in my garden.
These tall sentinels are on the north side of my garden so they don't shade any vegetables and go well by the pumpkins. I've never tried growing the giant ones, but may try my luck with those this year.
Enjoy Flowers and Veggies Together!
Planting companion flowers with my vegetables is something that makes good sense to me. Not only are they good for each other, but also they spruce up the green garden with bright color. I choose annuals because I rotate where I plant my veggies each year. (And yes, I plant vegetables in my flower beds, too.) I recommend the practice!
Every garden soil and climate is different, but you can experiment and see what works for you. Start with one of my favorite five soldiers - they are relatively inexpensive and could be a wonderful force to defend your vegetables. Happy Gardening!