If you’re looking for the best companion flowers for your vegetable garden, we’ve got a great list for you! Annuals, perennials, and even some flowering herbs that will make your garden very happy!
Growing vegetables is highly rewarding and a lot of fun. Growing flowers with vegetables will take your garden to the next level. Supplement the beauty of your vegetable garden with flowers and your plants will ramp up their productivity!
Lots of people grow flowers directly in their vegetable garden for different reasons. The main reason (other than the sheer beauty of staring at a gorgeous sunflower amidst your tomato patch) is to create a healthy ecosystem in your garden by way of companion planting.
Let’s take a look at some of the very best companion flowers that you should be planting in your vegetable garden.
The Best Annuals as Companion Flowers for Your Vegetable Garden
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage is a drought-tolerant flowering plant that thrives in full to partial sun. Though it is an annual, if left to its own devices, it will self-seed and return year after year.
Because of its deep root system, borage helps to break up and aerate the soil. The root gathers nutrients and stores them closer to shallower-rooted plants giving them plenty of food on which to thrive. Borage is great for the soil as a chop-and-drop mulch and when made into a liquid fertilizer, as well.
The unique, star-shaped flower heads and young leaves of the borage plant are edible giving a subtle cucumber flavor. Use it in fresh salads, on sandwiches, or as a garnish in drinks.
Borage is an excellent trap crop for aphids. Plant borage 8 to 12 feet from the nearest crops that are susceptible to aphid damage. It also attracts predatory insects that eat aphids, bees and other pollinators, and birds (when the seeds have dropped).
Best companions to: Squash, Cucumbers, Peas
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) aka “Pot Marigold”
The more sun your calendula gets, the better! Sow the seeds of this annual indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant into moderate-rich, well-drained soil after threat of frost has passed. When the plant has begun to grow in its new home, it will require very little (if any) fertilizer.
Also called the “pot marigold” (though not the same as actual marigolds), calendula is great at attracting bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators. Like borage, calendula is a trap crop for aphids, so don’t plant too close to your tomatoes. Calendula is also a great cover crop.
The best time for the plant to bloom is in lower humidity and cooler weather. Cut the plants back in mid-summer and use the cuttings as mulch for other plants in the garden. You’ll get new growth with more blooms in the fall.
Aside from tilling them into the soil, you can cut calendula back to the ground and add it to your compost pile. The blooms act as compost activators, and your compost will thank you for it!
Best companions to: Carrots, Cucumbers, Asparagus
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Companion planting with chamomile is great due to its natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It can actually help plants that are prone to fungus, mildew, mold, blight, and other common plant ailments. You can also make a “tea” from chamomile and spray it on seedlings in the garden. This will prevent fungal infections that kills many young plants such as damping-off.
Planting chamomile alongside mint and basil is said to improve both the taste and scent of the herbs.
Keep your chamomile trimmed back to prevent leggy plants. Utilize the clippings in your own personal teas as well as the anti-fungal garden tea mentioned above. You can also treat chamomile as a chop and drop fertilizer.
Be sure to leave some chamomile growing, though, so it reseeds itself at the end of its cycle. The growth will continue to attract beneficial insects like hoverflies and ladybugs as well as deterring mosquitos.
Best companions to: Tomatoes, Broccoli, Onions
Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
Another good cover crop, the lacy phacelia has a root system that improves soil structure. It also serves as an exceptional ground cover or border plant. Phacelia loves the sun and thrives with moderate watering in well-drained soil.
The flowers of lacy phacelia attract bees and many other pollinators. It is easily one of the best plants to attract multiple species of beneficial insects that will keep your garden producing tons of fruit and veggies. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, okra, squash and cucumbers will benefit immensely from the number of bees that will flock to your garden.
But phacelia doesn’t just attract pollinators. It also brings hoverflies and other beneficial predatory insects to the garden, keeping your crops relatively free of pests. Since it is a fast-growing ground cover plant, phacelia will also help to smother weeds. Killing weeds and destructive insects? Win/win!
Lacy phacelia may very well become your favorite companion flowers for your vegetable garden.
Best companions to: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Okra
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
These annual “common sunflowers” grow from 1 to 8 feet tall and bloom from summer to fall. Their seed heads can be large or small, bloom the first year of planting, and have typical string-like roots.
Helianthus annus germinates and grows quickly, spreading and repopulating from their seeds. They grow from single stems and can be an amazingly beautiful addition to any vegetable garden. Not only do they bring bees to the garden that help spread pollen, but they attract birds who will eat their seeds and other destructive insects.
A word of caution about planting annual sunflowers in the vegetable garden, they have an “allelopathic effect” on some plants that are grown nearby, which inhibits growth.
Be careful with which crops you plant sunflowers.
Best companions to: Onions, Tomatoes, Lettuce
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Sweet alyssum is an annual with tiny flowers. It is a cold hardy plant in zones 7-10, so it may become more of a perennial. However, in colder climates it is definitely grown as an annual.
Sow alyssum seeds to be transplanted or directly into the garden space where you intend to grow them. Alyssum seeds need plenty of light for germination, so do not bury too deeply.
As the plant matures, it becomes more and more drought tolerant. While you want to keep alyssum watered, it only requires infrequent watering. Water when the soil becomes dry as far down as your finger can reach.
Alyssum attracts a lot of beneficial insects like bees and predatory wasps. It also serves as a trap crop for aphids, so your tomatoes will love it.
Best companions to: Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower
Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
While related to peas and beans, the sweet pea is only a flower. The annual can be grown up a trellis with other climbing plants such as peas, climbing beans, cucumbers, and melons.
The beautiful flowers attract all kinds of pollinators. Bees and butterflies love to get their nectar from the sweet pea due to their intoxicating grape-like fragrance.
The sweet pea flowers make great cut flowers for early spring and fall, harvest to encourage new growth. Sweet peas do best in cooler climates and will bloom until a hard freeze.
Serving as great nitrogen fixers, sweet peas make an excellent companion to plants that are responsive to extra nitrogen. Tomatoes, peppers, greens and sweet corn are only a few vegetables that thrive with sweet peas in the garden.
Best companions to: Cucumbers, Pole beans, Okra
Marigold (Tagetes sp.)
The self-seeding marigold is one of the most common companion plants you’ll hear talked about. Plant them in full sun during early spring and be prepared for a glorious explosion of bright yellow flower heads. The flowers are edible and offer a pop of citrus with just a hint of spice.
Marigolds are interesting companion flowers for your vegetable garden. They attract lots of different pollinators, but that’s not all. They also attract slugs, snails, aphids, and Japanese beetles, making them a trap crop, of sorts. Marigolds also draw ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and hoverflies to take care of the pests they bring to the yard.
It’s been said that the marigold deters pests above ground such as rabbits and below ground like nematodes. They deter mosquitos and flies as well, so they also make good container plants for your patio area.
The self-seeding plant is an annual but may come back year after year if left to go to seed at the end of each season.
Best companions to: Cucumbers, Lettuce, Tomatoes
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Nasturtium seeds can be sown directly into the ground 1/2 inch deep at a spacing of 12 inches apart. Alternatively, you can start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last frost, harden off your seedlings, and then plant after all danger of frost has passed.
The flowers and leaves of the nasturtium have a peppery taste and make a great addition to any fresh summer salad. In fact, you can even eat green nasturtium seeds much like capers. Harvest the seeds before they begin to dry up and soak them in vinegar for 3 days.
Nasturtiums deter whiteflies, cucumber beetles, squash beetles, Colorado potato beetles, and Mexican bean beetles.
These amazing companion flowers attract hoverflies which will destroy the aphids it attracts, so they make a great trap crop for aphids.
“Trailing Nasturtium” also makes a great ground cover. Plant some along the edges of your garden for a beautiful natural carpet border.
Best companions to: Cucumbers, Squash, Potatoes
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
These beauties are some of the easiest flowers to grow. They grow quickly and give off tons of blooms which are great in cut flower arrangements. If left alone, zinnias will drop their seed and regrow next season.
Zinnia seeds only need to be planted about 1/4 inch deep, 6 to 18 inches apart with 2 feet between rows. Under the right conditions, seedlings will emerge within 4 to 7 days, but it may be a couple of months before they begin to bloom.
Since zinnias need warm temperatures and intense sunlight, they make great companions for tomatoes and peppers. Plant these together for a bountiful harvest of fruit and flowers.
Zinnias attract bees and other pollinators. They also attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and parasitic wasps. Build your insect army stronger with zinnias as companion flowers in your vegetable garden!
Best companions to: Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers
The Best Perennials as Companion Flowers for Your Vegetable Garden
Astrantia (Astrantia major)
Also called the “Masterwort,” Astrantias are perennials that will bloom all summer long. These shade loving plants will take a little sun but thrive in partial to full shade in moist soil.
The seeds of the Astrantia need to be cold stratified before they become viable seeds. Soak seeds for a couple of hours. Drain off the water and spread seeds in a single onto a paper towel. Wrap the wet paper towel in a dry one to soak up some excess water off the surface of the seeds. Place in a Ziploc bag inside your refrigerator for a month or so before planting.
Astrantia should be lightly fertilized 1 to 2 times per year. They grow 1 to 2 feet tall and make great cut flowers. Astrantia spreads quickly, and flower clumps can be divided and transplanted.
Aphids, leaf miners, and slugs love the plant, so they make a great trap crop. The blooms will also attract many beneficial insects such as butterflies, bees, hoverflies, and predatory wasps.
Best companions to: Carrots, Onions, Lettuce
Bee Balm (Monarda)
Bee balm is another flower that attracts beneficial bugs to the garden. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are drawn to the beautiful flowers. The fragrant blooms also help repel mosquitos, aphids and squash bugs.
The flowers aren’t the only repellant to nasty pests in the garden. The roots of the bee balm plant have a high concentration of fragrant oils, as well. They tend to repel the subterranean pests like nematodes.
If planted in rich, fertile soil, bee balm may spread quickly, so keep it in check. You could also plant the bee balm in hanging planters. Hang them in the middle of the garden with these shepherd hooks or against a post with these hanging plant brackets.
Bee balm needs very little care once the plants have been established. As long as they’re in a sunny or partially sunny spot planted in fast-draining soil, they’ll thrive and produce lots of gorgeous blooms.
Best companions to: Squash, Tomatoes, Melons
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
While this fast-growing perennial is listed as a “companion plant,” it doesn’t particularly benefit any one plant more than another. Rather, it is a great plant to have in your garden to benefit all of your vegetables and herbs!
Comfrey flowers attract bees and other pollinators. The roots are dynamic bio-accumulators, so they suck up rich nutrients from deep in the soil and bring them closer to the surface. Comfrey also helps break-up dense soil with its taproot system.
Because comfrey reproduces via rhizome, it makes a great rhizome barrier plant to help fend off would-be encroaching weeds. Plant it along the edge of your garden where weeds give you the most trouble.
The leaves of the comfrey plant are a great source of fertilizer and can be harvested up to 4 times per season. Use them as a “chop and drop” fertilizer/mulch combo, make some comfrey tea to feed your plants, or just add them to the compost to give your future garden some amazing nutrients!
Best companions to: The Whole Garden!
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
This true North American native perennial grows in proud, beautiful clumps. Standing bold and beautiful, they hold large, daisy-like flowers over their foliage that thrive in the full sun of summer.
Those gorgeous blooms attract many pollinators like bees and butterflies. Coneflowers also attract predatory insects to take care of the pests that plague your garden.
A good cut flower variety, echinacea makes a great addition to any summer bouquet.
Echinacea is also one of the most easily recognized medicinal herbs. It has been used as a tonic to increase immunity, an antimicrobial to promote wound healing, and an anti-inflammatory to treat skin rashes and swelling from insect bites.
Best companions to: Tomatoes, Peppers, Brassicas
Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea)
Hollyhocks are tall flowering plants that can grow from 3 feet up to 8 feet tall. There are also dwarf varieties that only grow 2 to 3 feet tall. Mix up the heights throughout the garden for some gorgeous variation.
The blooms start opening from the bottom up in a variety of colors from pastel pinks and apricots to bold reds and even black flowers. The amazing flowers of the hollyhock attracts bees, butterflies, and the occasional hummingbird, so your garden is sure to stay pollinated.
Plant your hollyhocks in full sun and keep them watered regularly to ensure the soil stays moist. Once they’re well established, you can cut back on the watering a bit. As with pretty much anything else in the garden, you should avoid watering the foliage of the hollyhock plant as it is prone to leaf disease.
One of the good things about the hollyhock is that it requires very little fertilization. A fairly self-sufficient plant, it will thrive with no more than one feeding of a balanced fertilizer like a 5-5-5 each year. For well-established second and third year plants, compost is really the only fertilizer you need.
Best companions to: Potatoes, Tomatoes, Melons
Lavender (Lavandula sp.)
Lavender is easily one of the most well-known flowers because of beautiful purple blooms and amazing fragrance. Bees and ladybugs flock to lavender like a moth to a flame, providing both extra pollination and aphid control for your vegetables.
When planted in well-draining soil with full sun, lavender will flourish and thrive. Trimming back the dead flowers will encourage a healthy plant that will continue to bloom regularly.
Lavender has also been known to deter garden pests like mosquitos, ticks, moths, and many other insects. There are even tales of it warding-off deer and squirrels.
Plant lavender around the border of your garden for a great general barrier for pests as well as an attractive frame for your vegetables.
Best companions to: Celery, Brassicas, Lettuce
Many vegetable plants require ample amounts of nitrogen, so the nitrogen-fixing lupine is an amazing perennial to have in your garden. You can even grow lupines in the off-season as a cover crop.
As well as most of the flowers in this list, the lupine is great at attracting bees and other beneficial wildlife to aid in your garden’s defense and help it thrive. They do attract aphids, so you’re getting a trap crop with the lupine, as well.
Most species of Lupinus are herbaceous plants, but occasionally you might find a few woody trees and shrubs. I would probably stick to the herbaceous flowering plants inside the garden, and maybe plant a few of the woodier species outside the garden to save some space, if you so desire.
Much like the hollyhock, lupine flowers open from the bottom up. If you cut them when one-third or less of the flowers have opened, they tend to last for several days in a cut flower bouquet in a vase.
Best companions to: Cucumbers, Broccoli, Spinach
A tender perennial, the petunias grow great from mid-spring to mid-fall in warmer climates. They do not tolerate frost, so when temperatures take a downward turn, they will die back for the season.
Petunias help to repel a number of pests including aphids, tomato horn worms, Mexican bean beetles, asparagus beetles, and leafhoppers, to name a few. Their pleasant aroma also attracts bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators.
To prune, use a small pair of sharp shears or scissors to trim back the places where the stems and foliage look dry. Cut those back by about half to two-thirds. There’s not much you can do to cut petunias back too much. Under-pruning will cause the plant to not set blooms the next season due to lack of new growth.
To aid in the new growth after pruning, fertilize lightly with a diluted water-soluble balanced fertilizer.
Best companions to: Tomatoes, Asparagus, Beans & Peas
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
This perennial flower is found throughout the mainland United States and parts of Canada. Helenium autumnale can grow up to 4 feet tall. In late summer and fall, it boasts daisy like flower heads with ray florets which can be yellow, red or bronze in color.
Long ago, the leaves of the common sneezeweed were dried and snorted to induce sneezing, casting out evil spirits from within the body.
Sneezeweed seeds should be planted 2 inches deep in fertile, well-draining soil. Plant in full sun during mid- to late spring and water lightly to compact the soil around the seeds. Once blooms set, expect a continuous visit from bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and other beneficial garden insects.
Helenium is deer-resistant and will keep the majestic four-leggers at bay if planted as a border plant. The low maintenance flowering plant is extremely low maintenance, requires little watering and even less fertilization.
When seeds set, you can cover the flower heads with a brown paper bag to save the seed. You can also divide clumps to replant elsewhere, leaving the seeds for the birds (which will also tackle late-season insect problems).
Best companions to: Tomatoes, Melons, Cucumbers
Sunflowers (Helianthus multiflorus)
Yes, this is a second listing for sunflowers, as the first listing was for the annual species. This species is a perennial (especially in the warmer climates of zones 6 through 9. They typically grow no more than about 3 to 4 feet tall.
Helianthus multiflorus also germinates and grows at a rapid pace. However, they prefer to grow in clumps rather than from single stems.
Much like their cousin species, perennial sunflowers have an allelopathic effect, which may inhibit the growth of other nearby plants. Plant these beauties in raised beds and large containers near the garden to keep this situation in check.
The multiflorus species of the sunflower still brings bees, butterflies, ladybugs and birds to the garden. They give your vegetable plants plenty of pollinators as well as an army of anti-aphid soldiers.
Best companions to: Onions, Tomatoes, Lettuce
Herbs as Companion Flowers for Your Vegetable Garden
While some herbs do not flower often, others do – and quite regularly. These herbs will make great companions in your vegetable garden.
- Repels aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, hornworms and other garden pests.
- Attracts bees to improve pollination.
- Improves flavor of tomatoes.
Best companions to: Asparagus, Cucumbers, Tomatoes
- Repels aphids.
- Improves the flavor of carrots and tomatoes. (Also, a delicious addition to homemade ranch seasoning!)
- May help to prevent powdery mildew on cucumber plants.
Best companions to: Asparagus, Carrots, Cucumbers
- Attracts beneficial insects such as bees, lady bugs, praying mantises, wasps, and hoverflies.
- Repels garden pests such as aphids, spider mites, squash and cabbage bugs.
- Plant away from nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants) as mature dill can hinder the growth of these plants.
Best companions to: Asparagus, Brassicas, Cucumbers
- Attracts ladybugs to help control the aphid population.
- Attracts bees and other pollinators.
- Repels cabbage moths.
Best companions to: Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes
- Repels cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, black flea beetles, cabbage moths and imported cabbageworms.
- Favorite of hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
- Negatively affects the growth of cucumbers, so don’t plant it near them.
Best companions to: Brassicas, Kale, Kohlrabi
What are Your Favorite Companion Flowers for Your Vegetable Garden?
How many of the flowers in this post do you grow? How many will you attempt now? I encourage you to try adding a few new varieties each year to supplement your garden’s arsenal. You can never have too many beneficial insects in your garden. Plant something that will make more want to call your garden home!
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Patrick & Jessie homestead in Middle Georgia with two of their four children and their three dogs. They love gardening, food preservation, and keeping their family prepared for any disaster that may come.