Why Plant Flowers and Vegetables Together?

Often vegetables and herbs are kept away from ornamental plants in the garden, and sometimes there are practical reasons for doing this, for example if you want to keep your vegetable garden strictly organic, but like to use non-organic fertilisers on your ornamentals. However mixing vegetables and edibles together can create really ornamental borders and has other added benefits.

Companion Planting

Flowers mixed in with vegetables to attract beneficial insects and aid pollination. Tagetes patula 'Durango Bee' - French Marigold with Mustard 'Oriental Pizzo', Radish, Dwarf bean 'Orinoco', Lettuce 'Lollo Biondo', Ruby chard 'Vulcan' and Tropaeolum minus 'Ladybird' - Nasturtium - © GAP Photos/Graham Strong

Flowers mixed in with vegetables to attract beneficial insects and aid pollination. Tagetes patula ‘Durango Bee’ – French Marigold with Mustard ‘Oriental Pizzo’, Radish, Dwarf bean ‘Orinoco’, Lettuce ‘Lollo Biondo’, Ruby chard ‘Vulcan’ and Tropaeolum minus ‘Ladybird’ – Nasturtium – © GAP Photos/Graham Strong

Companion planting takes many forms, but it generally it involves combining certain plants because they work well together. Many crops rely on pollinators, such as bees and butterflies for successful yields of fruit. By planting flowering plants between your rows of crops which are attractive to pollinators, you greatly increase the chances of success. In addition, many beneficial flowering plants, such as marigolds, have a strong scent that confuses nearby pests, and spares your plants from their clutches.

It adds a cheery pop of colour

Tulipa 'Ballerina' growing with lettuce and Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii 'John Tomlinson' - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ growing with lettuce and Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii ‘John Tomlinson’ – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

The sight of vegetables growing together in a garden is a very attractive one, however bright colour is not often a feature until later in the season. These orange tulips pop against the lettuce growing around them, and provide some much-needed height and vibrancy to spring borders and vegetable plots.

It saves space

Mixed hanging basket with Beta vulgaris 'Feurio' and Petunia sophistica 'Lime Bicolor' - Two-Tone Petunia - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Mixed hanging basket with Beta vulgaris ‘Feurio’ and Petunia sophistica ‘Lime Bicolor’ – Two-Tone Petunia – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Many do not have room for both vegetables and ornamental borders, so why not combine them. Even if all you have room for is a hanging basket, you can still have the best of both words. Here, Petunia flowers tumble down the side of a hanging basket while the dark red leaves of a swiss chard create a proud and edible centrepiece, which can be harvested from as and when is needed.