15 Benefits of Planting Flowers in Your Vegetable Garden

If you think you need to keep your flowers and veggies separate, think again! In this article, vegetable farmer Briana Yablonski will share 15 benefits of adding flowering plants to your vegetable garden.

Flowers in vegetable garden. View of a sunny garden with growing rows of vegetables and blooming flowers. The garden bed contains cabbage, dill, onions, Nigella sativa, daisy-like yellow flowers, bell-shaped white and pink ones.


When I talk to gardeners, many people seem to think they must keep their veggies and flowers separate. They have a raised bed filled with veggies in their backyard and flowers in front of their house. And while there’s nothing wrong with this approach, planting flowers and vegetables together provides all kinds of benefits.

Whether you want to decrease your reliance on pesticides or bring your birds to your garden, adding flowers will do the trick! Join me as I explain 15 reasons you should consider planting flowers in your vegetable garden.

Supplies Food for Predatory Insects

Close-up of Carrot wasp on a Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) flower. The Carrot Wasp is a small but distinctive insect characterized by its narrow, elongated body and striking black and orange coloration. The abdomen is slender and segmented, resembling the shape of a carrot, hence its name. The Fennel flower is a delicate and feathery cluster of tiny yellow blooms arranged in umbels atop tall, slender stems.
Invite beneficial bugs to your garden with vibrant flowers.

When you think of bugs in the garden, you may imagine frustrating pests like aphids and cabbage worms or pollinators like bees and butterflies. But there’s another category of insects every gardener should know about: natural predators! These creatures feed on the pests that wreak havoc in the garden and help keep their populations in check.

Not all predatory insects feed on the same pests. While some good bugs are general predators that attack stinkbugs, harlequin bugs, and cutworms, others feed solely on aphids, caterpillars, or other types of pests. Therefore, having a diversity of predatory insects in your garden is a great way to limit the number of pests in your garden.

So, how do flowers come into play? Most insects complete multiple life stages, and each growth stage has a specific diet. For example, while green lacewing larvae prey on small pests like aphids, thrips, and spider mites, the adults primarily eat honeydew, pollen, and nectar. Therefore, adding flowers to your vegetable garden will provide the adults with food and encourage them to stick around.

Parasitoid wasps are another example of predatory insects that feed on flowers. The adults gobble up nectar for energy, so flowers are essential to supporting them. Adult females then deposit eggs in a host insect, and eventually, the eggs hatch into larvae that feed on and kill their host. Flowers are a must-have if you want to attract these predators to your vegetable garden!

Offers Host Plants for Butterflies

Close-up of monarch butterfly on milkweed plant in a sunny garden. The monarch butterfly is renowned for its exquisite beauty, featuring vibrant orange wings adorned with black veins and borders, speckled with white spots along the edges. The Orange Butterfly Milkweed plant boasts clusters of bright orange, star-shaped flowers that bloom atop erect stems.
Expand butterfly habitats with diverse flowering plants in gardens.

Many people know about the benefits of flowers for pollinators, but did you know that flowering plants provide butterflies and moths with more than food? When adults are ready to lay their eggs, they seek a suitable host plant to deposit them on. The resulting larvae hatch and feed on the host plant until they’re large enough to pupate.

Some Lepidoptera species feed on a variety of host plants, but others only consume a single plant family. You may know that monarch butterfly larvae only feed on milkweed plants, but did you know that gulf fritillary larvae only eat passion flower plants and zebra swallowtails only consume pawpaw leaves? Even butterfly larvae that feed on various plant families will appreciate if you plant flowers like asters, hollyhock, and sea holly.

Planting diverse flowering plants in your vegetable garden will allow more butterfly and moth species to reproduce. When the adults have a suitable spot to lay their eggs, they’re more likely to stick around to pollinate your vegetable crops and beautify your garden.

Provides Food for Pollinators

Close-up of Bumblebee on a purple aster flower against a blurred green background. The bumblebee is a robust and fuzzy insect characterized by its black and yellow striped abdomen. Its large, round body is covered in dense hair, providing insulation and aiding in pollination. The aster flower is daisy-shaped, with a bright yellow central disc surrounded by thin, delicate purple petals.
Enrich your garden with diverse flowers to support pollinators.

Flowers not only provide food for predatory insects but also supply nectar and pollen for pollinators! After all, these insects are called pollinators for a reason.

While flowering vegetable plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans produce flowers that support pollinators, these crops only flower for a few weeks or months of the year. And they’re not always the most pollen and nectar-rich flowers out there. Adding flowers to your vegetable garden ensures pollinators like bees and butterflies can access blooms from spring through fall.

Adding a diversity of flowers supports a diversity of pollinators. For example, small flowers like sweet alyssum and dill attract tiny insects like hoverflies and parasitic wasps, while asters, goldenrods, and marigolds supply food to hungry bumblebees.

Adds Beauty

Close-up of a blooming garden. Plants such as lavender with blue flowers, dill with bright yellow umbrella-shaped inflorescences, white daisies, pink cosmos, Oenothera biennis, Lychnis Coronaria bloom in the beds. Pepper plants, various types of lettuce, basil and others grow in the garden bed.
Enhance your vegetable garden’s allure with vibrant blooms.

This one may be obvious, but adding flowers is a surefire way to increase the beauty of any space… including your vegetable garden. When your garden is a place you want to spend time, you’re more likely to hang out there!

Tedious tasks like pulling weeds and suckering tomatoes become more manageable when you complete them while looking at a cosmos plant blowing in the breeze or a row of sunflowers growing skyward. Plus, diverse landscapes are much more interesting to look at than monocultures. The more types of plants you add to your garden, the more you have to explore!

Creates Natural Shade

Close-up of a garden with growing sunflowers, cabbage and Acmella oleracea. The sunflower plant is characterized by its towering stature, featuring a thick, sturdy stem reaching heights of several feet and crowned by a single, oversized flower head of bright yellow-orange color. The leaves are broad, coarse, and heart-shaped, with a rough texture and deep green color. The flower head consists of a green-yellow central disk surrounded by bright yellow petals.
Shield delicate greens with natural shade from tall companion plants.

Many vegetables grow best in full sun, but direct afternoon rays can overwhelm tender leafy greens and herbs…especially during the hot summer months. Adding shade cloth over your plants is one way to protect them from the scorching rays, but you can also rely on natural shade producers.

Planting a row of tall plants like zinnias, sunflowers, or snapdragons on the south or west side of tender crops like lettuce will provide them with helpful shade. Before you plant these taller flowers right next to vegetables like lettuce or kale, look to see if they require staking and trellising.

Provides Food for Birds

Close-up of Goldfinch eating sunflower seeds in the garden against a blurred yellow background. The Goldfinch is a small, striking bird known for its bright yellow body, contrasting black wings with bold white wing bars, and a distinctive black cap atop its head. The mature sunflower head presents a striking appearance with its large, disk-shaped center filled with tightly packed, dark seeds encased in a patterned spiral. Surrounding the central disk are the dry, withered petals, yellow and golden in color, which have wilted and shriveled as the seeds develop.
Invite birds to your garden with seed-rich and nectar-filled flowers.

If you choose the right types of flowers, the blooms will provide food for birds as well as smaller insects. Songbirds like goldfinches, pine siskins, and chickadees love feasting on the seeds produced by flowers like purple coneflowers, globe thistles, sunflowers, and coreopsis. If you want these blooms to go to seed, remember to leave them on the plants even after the flowers fade.

Not only will these birds make spending time in the garden more enjoyable, but they can also seriously impact pests. While adult birds often eat seeds and fruits, most birds feed their chicks insects— a lot of insects! Adult chickadees catch 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to raise a single clutch of chicks! While not all caterpillars are vegetable pests, these birds definitely make a dent in pest populations.

If you really want to support birds, focus on planting native flowers around and in your vegetable garden. Not all plants need to be native, but research suggests landscapes need to be at least 70% native species to support the population growth of birds like chickadees.

While many birds only feed on flower seeds, nectar-rich flowers like bee balm, penstemon, and columbine attract various hummingbirds. These tiny winged creatures zip through the garden and continuously pause to drink up the sweet flower nectar. Choosing flowers that bloom throughout the season helps support hummingbirds.

Increases Biodiversity

View of the vegetable garden with blooming flowers. Plants such as zinnias, lettuce, radishes, marigolds, Eggplant, Holy Basil, mint, and sunflowers grow in rows in the garden. Two wooden signposts are stuck into the ground at a distance.
Embrace biodiversity for a visually stunning and thriving garden.

If you ask me, there’s no such thing as too much biodiversity. Looking out over a garden of lettuce and tomatoes is a beautiful sight, but gazing at a garden filled with lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, zinnias, cosmos, and coneflowers is even more impressive!

Not only are diverse gardens more interesting to look at, but they also attract a greater diversity of critters. A greater diversity of plant genera will likely coincide with a greater diversity of insects. So, the more types of plants you can add to your garden, the better.

Provides Edible Flowers

Rows of fresh cabbage plants and blooming calendula. Cabbage plants are characterized by their dense rosettes of broad, sturdy leaves, bluish-green, forming tight, rounded heads. The leaves are deeply lobed, with a slightly waxy texture. Calendula plants, also known as pot marigolds, boast a charming appearance with their bushy growth habit and vibrant blooms. They feature lanceolate to spatulate leaves of a medium green hue, forming a dense foliage. Rising above this foliage are sturdy stems bearing single or double, daisy-like flowers in shades of bright yellow and orange, with contrasting centers.
Transform your garden into a dual-purpose haven with edible flowers.

Flowers not only add beauty to the garden, but they can also provide decoration and flavor in the kitchen. Some popular types of edible flowers include viola, borage, stock, calendula, and marigold. Each bloom has a different taste, but try mixing them into with your lettuce and arugula to brighten up salads and using them to top pieces of carrot cake or zucchini bread.

If you grow edible flowers, remember you don’t have to use them for just one thing! You can let birds and butterflies enjoy some of the blooms and harvest the rest for your kitchen.

Deters Insect Pests

Close-up of a blooming marigold among growing tomatoes in a garden with mulched soil. Marigolds are characterized by their compact, bushy growth habit and aromatic foliage. Their deeply lobed leaves are typically bright green. Rising above the foliage are sturdy stems bearing clusters of cheerful, daisy-like flowers in vibrant hues of red and orange.
Selecting the right flowers can help keep pests at bay.

Sometimes, I hear people overstate the ability of flowering plants to repel pests. However, if you choose the right flower, you can expect these beautiful plants to keep pests away from your veggie garden.

Researchers have extensively studied the most touted companion plants: the French marigold. In one study, they planted flowers next to tomato plants as they grew and found that white fly populations remained lower than the control group of tomatoes alone. However, they also observed that planting tomatoes with basil, nasturtium, and Chinese cabbage lowered the pest populations. So maybe it’s not the marigolds that repel whiteflies but the diverse ecosystem that keeps them in check.

However, a different research group investigated the effects of intercropping bok choy with onions and marigolds. The bok choy planted with onions experienced similar pest damage as the monoculture bok choy control group. However, the bok choy planted with marigolds experienced lower numbers of flea beetles and diamondback moth larvae.

Improves Fruit Set

Close-up of a vegetable garden with marigolds in bloom. Tomatoes, carrots, leeks and lettuce grow in the garden bed. Marigolds produce vibrant orange-red and yellow double flowers and lush, finely dissected, fern-like green foliage.
More flowers mean more fruit through improved pollination.

Since flowers bring in pollinators and pollinated flowers lead to fruits, more flowers often lead to more fruit. If you notice that your tomato, zucchini, or beans have lots of flowers but little fruit, poor pollination could be the cause. Adding diverse flowering plants to your garden will help draw in bees, flies, and butterflies and improve pollination.

That said, poor pollination isn’t the only factor that can lead to low fruit set. High temperatures and improper fertilization can also lead to low numbers of fruit, even if all the flowers were properly pollinated.

Limits Use of Pesticides

Close-up of a gardener spraying zucchini plants against pests. A gardener in blue rubber gloves sprays pesticides from a white plastic bottle with a red nozzle. Zucchini plants are characterized by their bushy, sprawling growth habit, featuring large, lobed leaves that are deep green in color and slightly rough to the touch.
Invite beneficial insects to control garden pests naturally instead of using pesticides.

I get it. You want to avoid applying synthetic pesticides to your veggie garden, but you also want to harvest kale and chard to resemble lush leaves rather than Swiss cheese. Fortunately, pesticides aren’t the only way to control pests.

As I mentioned above, flowers attract a wide range of predatory insects that feed on garden pests like flea beetles, cabbage worms, aphids, and cucumber beetles. When these predator populations remain high, the pest populations remain low. I don’t mean to say you won’t see pests in your garden, but when the ecosystem is working as it should, the predators will keep pest populations from spiking.

Many beneficial insects often make their way into your garden as spring arrives, but it doesn’t hurt to release extra ladybugs or parasitic wasps. As long as the predators have pollen and nectar to feed on and pests to rear their young on, they’ll stick around.

Adds More Choices for Crop Rotation

Close-up of a vegetable garden in a sunny garden surrounded by a wooden fence. Vegetable crops such as cabbage, onions, lettuce, strawberries and others grow in the garden. Various flowers bloom in the garden, such as bushes of pink roses, delicate salmon-colored gladioli, bright orange-yellow marigolds, pink chrysanthemums and others.
Rotate plant families for effective crop management.

Proper crop rotation is one of the most important aspects of preventing disease and nutrient deficiencies in annual vegetable crops. Many beginner gardeners recognize they shouldn’t plant kale or tomatoes in the same spot year after year, but they sometimes don’t realize you should rotate entire plant families rather than plant species. When you consider that lots of popular vegetable crops belong to the same families, proper crop rotation becomes more difficult.

For example, radishes, kale, turnips, cabbage, arugula, bok choy, broccoli, and other veggies all belong to the Brassicaceae family, while tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes are members of the Solanaceae family. Therefore, you shouldn’t plant radishes and kale or potatoes and tomatoes in the same section year after year.

One way to make crop rotation easier is to increase the number of plant families you grow. Flowers like snapdragon, borage, and larkspur belong to families with few or no common vegetable crops.

Helps Decrease Weeds

Close-up of a vegetable garden with wooden raised beds. The beds contain squash plants with large, wide green leaves with slightly jagged edges. Moonlight Eclipse petunias and sweet alyssum grow as ground cover plants. There are raised beds of marigolds in bloom against the blurred background.
Use flowers as living mulch to enrich soil and deter weeds.

Adding shorter flowers like sweet alyssum and pansies beside tall plants like tomatoes and pole beans helps shade the areas beside the veggies and prevent weeds from growing. In short, the flowers act as a living mulch. Not only will you need to spend less time pulling weeds, but the flowering plants will also help enrich the soil with organic matter and attract beneficial insects.

You can also try planting flowers in any areas of your garden you aren’t planning to plant with veggies. Rather than letting this spot lay fallow and give way to weeds, plant flowers to outcompete any emerging weeds and provide other benefits to your landscape.

Supplies Beautiful Cut Flowers

View of a garden with various blooming flowers and growing vegetables such as cabbage and dill. Purple Asters, white Chrysanthemum, and bright red roses are blooming in the garden.
Grow veggies and flowers for a bountiful table display!

Why choose between a vegetable and flower garden when you can have both? Planting cut flowers and vegetables allows you to produce food for your plate and flowers for your table!

Some flowers work as cut flowers much better than others. Annual flowers like zinnias, sunflowers, calendula, and celosia are easy-to-grow options that hold up well once cut. Perennial flowers, including coneflowers, rudbeckia, and dahlias, also work excellent in bouquets.

Allows You to Learn New Skills

Close-up of a vegetable garden with amaranth, broccoli, cabbage and marigold growing. Amaranth plants present a striking appearance with their tall, erect stems adorned by vibrant, elongated clusters of tiny deep purple flowers. The leaves are broad and lanceolate, bright green.
Continuous learning blooms with every new garden addition!

There’s always something new to learn about gardening…that’s one of the things I love about it! And while you’ll never stop learning about how to improve your vegetable growing skills, adding new crops to the mix provides new learning opportunities. When I first added cut flowers to my fields of vegetables, I marveled over the unique seedlings and blooms.

If you plan to cut flowers for bouquets, you can focus on learning when to harvest each flower type at just the right time. This alone will give you a whole new area to explore! You can also dive into topics like seed saving and flower arranging.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to improve the health of your vegetables or increase your garden’s beauty, there’s no wrong reason to add flowers to your vegetable garden. Adding any flowers will benefit your veggies, but the greater the diversity of blooms, the better!

Numerous dahlias and lush green foliage illuminated by the sun's warm glow. The dahlias boast soft pink petals arranged in multiple layers, creating a delicate and inviting display of natural beauty.


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