Flowers add beauty and color to the landscape, but the beneficial effect of planting flowers extends beyond their aesthetic value. Growing and using flowers can improve your health, enhance your cooking, chase away pests and benefit your bottom line. No matter how small your yard or garden, planting a few well-chosen flowers will offer a big return on your effort.
Physical Fitness and Stress Reduction
Gardening can provide a vigorous physical workout. Lifting watering cans, dragging hoses and shoveling dirt can increase your heart rate and build your muscles while reducing stress. Sherry Rindels of the Iowa State University Department of Horticulture recommends stretching, warming up and cooling down before and after tackling your flower beds. She further suggests taking time to "see, hear, smell, touch and taste all that is around you."
Local farmer's markets are thriving in many communities. These local events can provide an opportunity to sell homegrown cut flowers. Ron Smith, Extension Specialist at the North Dakota State University, suggest selecting flowers that are easy to harvest and live at least seven days after cutting. Varieties that produce heavily and repetitively in small spaces increase profits. Popular choices include sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, delphiniums, daffodils and gladiolus.
When selling a home, one that is well-landscaped has a higher perceived value. A survey conducted by the Journal of Environmental Horticulture found that homes with a sophisticated landscape design incorporating color and large plants were considered to be 5.5 to more than 12 percent more valuable.
When preparing a home for sale, flowers add color and ambiance. Professional home stagers recommend flower-lined walkways and beds outdoors and vases or bowls of fresh flowers indoors.
Birds and Insects
Birds and beneficial insects add color and sound to your garden, but they are also a source free, non-toxic pest control. Cardinals, chickadees, orioles, warblers, nuthatches and titmice, attracted to a well-planned flower garden, will consume aphids, caterpillars, cutworms and grasshoppers. Columbines, yarrow, lavender and bergamot attract lacewings, lady beetles and parasitic wasps, all hard-working beneficial insects that help control mealybugs, aphids and other garden pests.
Certain flowers are edible and can add color, taste and texture to salads and other dishes. Extension agents at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offer several suggestions for using flowers in cooking. Flowers can be breaded and fried, candied, frozen in ice cubes, minced and added to butters, added to vinegars and made into jellies, jams and teas. Violets, squash blossoms, nasturtiums, borage, bee balm and scented geraniums are some of the many culinary flowers available to the home gardener.