Mixing flowers, herbs and vegetables is a useful garden strategy for three reasons. First, planting them together creates visual interest in your garden. The vibrant colors of the flowers contrast with the rich greens of the vegetables. The second reason is convenience. You only have to visit one spot to cut fresh flowers for your dinner table, harvest the fragrant herbs to enhance the flavor of your meal, and gather the hearty and nutritious vegetables to cook. Third, these three plant forms can help each other grow and protect each other from garden pests. This gardening concept is referred to as companion planting.
Plant marigolds between vegetable rows. Drive away pests that inhabit the garden soil by planting marigolds. These flowers release chemical compounds through their roots that pests such as nematodes, microscopic roundworms, find offensive.
Scatter plants to deter insects. Mix flowers, herbs and vegetables rather than planting long rows of one vegetable variety. The insects that plague a particular vegetable will be less likely to see it if it is mixed with other plants that the insect is not attracted to.
Pair chives or basil with rose bushes or tomatoes. Plant chives near the roses to keep aphids from infesting them. Employ garlic for the same purpose. Use basil to keep hornworms from attacking tomatoes. You will find that basil, when planted nearby, improves the growth of tomato plants and even the flavor of the fruit. Putting chives near tomatoes helps them grow as well.
Use plants to attract beneficial insects. Bring good species of insects into the garden, such as lady bugs, ground beetles, wasps and spiders, which consume pests harmful to vegetables. Plant coriander, parsley, dill and angelica, whose strong fragrances attract the helpful insects. Sweet alyssum's small flowers attract predatory wasps that will protect broccoli and potatoes by consuming pests that harm them.
Companion plant clover and cabbage. Use clover to bring in beneficial insects that can keep pests such as cabbageworms and aphids from damaging cabbage plants. Clover attracts ground beetles, predators of the damaging insects.
Plant chamomile. You can use chamomile as a companion plant to make your cabbage, onion and cucumber plants produce more flavorful fruit. Chamomile also improves soil quality by putting calcium and potassium in the soil when it dies and decomposes.