After 6 years of backyard gardening, I’m finally a flower convert! I love to grow flowers in my vegetable garden for a variety of reasons – to attract pollinators, serve as beneficial companion plants, for cut flowers, and just as a special moment to enjoy. Here are the best flowers to grow in your vegetable garden!
My gardening experience
I’ve kept a vegetable garden every year for the past 6 or so years now. I’d had some haphazard forays into gardening before then, almost all devastatingly ill-fated.
In 2014, I planted some beet seeds in a small raised bed and was shocked to produce big, beautiful beets! We also had strawberries and beautiful flowers…it was lovely and made me realize maybe I could garden.
That spring, I also started working at a local farmers market. This changed everything! I suddenly learned even more about what crops & varieties to plant and when.
From 2015 until now, I’ve worked in some capacity on nearby farms in the summer even though I am now a school teacher. I just love growing things!
I used to refuse to grow flowers in my vegetable garden…
When I first started gardening, I was all about the produce. It was like…I had this magical ability to produce FOOD. The food we need to eat! For free!
I was so excited and wrapped up in the magic of growing food that I thought growing flowers was a waste of space. Aren’t there flowers on the weeds and all the native plants growing nearby? I have only so much garden space, by golly, and I’ll fill it all with VEGETABLES!
I made an exception for sunflowers because, well, they’re exceptional. They produce beautiful flowers and food.
I think it was 2016 when I first started harvesting on a local farm that also grows flowers for bouquets. After a few months of picking blooms on the hottest days of the summer, I found myself looking forward to the flowers.
Suddenly, I was open to my garden being a place of beauty and not just production.
Flowers are a backyard gardener’s best friend
Of course, I like to use flowers to invite pollinators and as companion plants, like marigolds in the tomato bed. But I also believe we should actually grow flowers just for the sake of growing flowers.
It feels so lovely to get really excited when my flowers start to bloom and cut flower bouquets from the vegetable garden have a really inviting simplicity to them. Plus, fresh cut flowers last so much longer!
Now that I’ve been growing flowers for a few years, I’d love to share the best flowers for the vegetable garden!
Note: I’m recommending annual flowers that you can grow easily by seed each year, making them ideal for gardeners who are not using a perennial system at this time. Many of these flowers will reseed for future plantings if you do not pull them.
The 8 Best Flowers to Plant in Your Vegetable Garden
I had to put this one first. Sunflowers always make me nostalgic for my summers with my grandparents in Wisconsin. They are huge, colorful, and delightful. Sunflowers also make excellent bouquets on their own or with other flowers. They range so much in size and color and invite in so many pollinators!
My favorite sunflower variety this year is Skyscraper. The plant is probably 8-9 feet tall and grew 20 blooms with easy-to-cut, long stems!
For the past 3 years, I’ve grown tiny Persian Carpet zinnias in my garden beds. They rise up so well and create a giant mass of flowers. You can pick and pick and pick, and it still feels like you have so many! This is a great flower to grow for color and pollination. They’re so lovely in an arrangement, too.
These zinnias are also great for long-season picking. I’ve been cutting flowers for months from the same planting! They never seem to stop!
Although marigolds often have short stems, which makes them harder to add to bouquets. Their strong smell helps keep pests away from delicate plants, making them a great companion plant for tomatoes. I grow marigolds every year in my tomato patch and I love seeing the pops of color hiding down below.
These edible flowers grow beautiful, rounded leaves that remind me of lilypads. Nasturtiums are excellent companion plants to grow among your brassicas and squash especially. They also attract beneficial insects to pollinate your vegetable blooms!
These plants self-seed very easily, so be cautious to pull up any volunteers or pull the plants before they drop seeds in your garden bed.
This was my first year planting alyssum from seed, and it is a new favorite! This tall white variety from Baker Creek is such a fast flower to bloom. I think it took about two weeks from planting for flowers to bloom! It has a lovely honey scent and it falls perfectly over the side of your raised bed.
Alyssum is also a dream for pollinators! The abundant tiny flowers draw in bees and other pollinators. It does not do well as a cut flower as those tiny blooms will fall all over your counter.
Be sure to add alyssum as a companion plant between larger plants like cauliflower and cabbage!
Also known as violas, pansies are perfect for the garden! Not only are they edible, but they bloom throughout the summer. They actually love to be pruned so if you pick off old blooms, new ones will continue to emerge.
Although pansies are annual flowers, they often self-seed. This means they drop their seeds where they are, and those seeds grow the next year. There is so much variety in the pansy world and I love growing shades of purples.
Other excellent annual flowers for your backyard garden
Falling in love with these gorgeous blooms? Me too! If you’re ready to add more flowers to your garden, here are some of my favorite annuals.
- Dahlias (grow from a root bulb you dig up each fall and replant in the spring)
- Stock (I’m growing Vintage Brown from Floret)
- Sweet pea
- Strawflower (excellent for dried flower arrangements)
- Statice (great filler in bouquets and for dried flower arrangements)
- Yarrow (an ancient healing flower)
- Black-eyed susan
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