Why plant flowers to grow vegetables? Because some plants are natural pest fighters. If you’re getting tired of garden pests eating the good stuff that you’re trying to grow, but don’t want to use pesticides on your food, consider planting some of these five flowers among your vegetables. They’ll help protect your garden — and they’re edible too.
Borage (borago officinalis)
With its vivid, star-shaped blooms in shades of bright blue, borage is a pretty addition to any garden. More importantly, it’s a useful one. As garden expert P. Allen Smith points out, this easy-to-grow herb attracts bees and discourages tomato hornworms, making it a great companion plant for strawberries and tomatoes. With a flavor similar to cucumbers, borage’s leaves and flowers are a great addition to summer salads.
Chives (allium schoenoprasum)
With crisp green leaves and round purple flowers, chives draw bees and other pollinators to your garden while deterring carrot rust flies and Japanese beetles. A flowering onion, the entire plant is edible and can be added to salads or cooked into soups and other dishes.
Chrysanthemums (chrysanthemum coronarium)
A favorite fall flower, the familiar mum can be found in many colors. Not just a pretty face, it reportedly repels nematodes, ticks, fleas, bedbugs and Japanese beetles. If you’re looking for something to give your salad a pop, whatscookingamerica.net says that the mum’s peppery-tasting petals can be blanched and served in salads.
Marigolds (tagetes tenuifolia)
Marigolds are often the first plant that comes up in discussions of natural pest fighters. Their vibrant orange and yellow flowers discourage white flies, nematodes, and other destructive bugs. In addition, their citrusy flavor adds a fun tang to salads.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
With rich, vivacious flowers and gorgeous green leaves, nasturtiums draw people. But, they repel aphids, cucumber beetles, white flies, and squash bugs. At mealtime, they are especially versatile. The blooms have a spicy, yet sweet flavor. The leaves bring a peppery taste to salads. Even the seedpods are edible, making a pleasant substitution for capers.
Although I enjoy gardening, no one who knows me would say I have a green thumb — at least not with a straight face. Yet despite my less than expert gardening skills, I’ve managed to grow these friendly flowers in or around our raised garden beds. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the delicious tomatoes, peppers and strawberries we’ve harvested, I’m not adventurous enough to actually eat the flowers. But I am enjoying their beauty — and their help in keeping garden pests away.
“Edible Flowers are the New Rage in Haute Cusine ” — whatscookingamerica.net
“Pest Control Plants” — P. Allen Smith Garden Home
“What to Plant in Your Summer Vegetable Garden” — P. Allen Smith Garden Home