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I noticed our neighbours have a row of flowers / flowering shrubs going through their vegetable plot. I think they are carnations.

I know I could just ask my neighbours, but I would like to get a wider opinion: Is it a good idea to plant some flowers amongst a veggie patch? I assume the aim is to increase pollination and thus improve yields.

What type of flowers make good companions?

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Flowers are both a beneficial and attractive addition to a bed of vegetables. They have a variety of uses, depending on species. I always grow sunflowers in the veggies because they are attractive, thrive in the same conditions as vegetables, attract hordes of bees, and have tasty seeds at the end of the season. Some people grow flowers in among the vegetables solely for pollination, but others use the flowers artfully to create an eye pleasing picture. Good flowers for vegetable gardens are bright, long lasting annual plants that have a long blooming season. They should be upright, or climbing if you have a support, and preferably attract plenty of insects. Zinnias and Cosmos are some good ones. Also, some flowers, such as nasturtiums and marigolds, are good for companion planting with various vegetable crops as pest deterrent.

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Do you know if marigolds drop lots of seed and do they flower all year round? I like the idea of marigolds because they are short and I have 30cm walkways between my four beds that I am think of planting something that I can step over. –  xiaohouzi79 Mar 14 '12 at 1:52
    
Marigolds are annuals, and flower from spring to fall. They do drop seeds if they aren't deadheaded every few weeks. There are varieties of zinnia that stay low like marigolds, too. –  J. Musser Mar 14 '12 at 2:14
    
I grew sunflowers at the old house as well - they then die back as the peppers/etc come in to their own. I think I read somewhere about sunflowers and beans - using the sunflower stems as supports for the beans. I've never tried it though. –  winwaed Mar 14 '12 at 12:18

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