Flowers bring dramatic color to a vegetable garden and attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Certain flowers can repel harmful insects which make them allies to vegetable gardens. Beneficial insects will feed on the flower nectar before moving into the vegetable garden to hunt harmful pests. A floral border around the vegetable garden creates a great looking garden as well as bringing protection to the vegetables.
Marigolds or Tagetes erecta can grow between 8 and 14 inches tall. They thrive in full sun and flower all through the growing season. Blossoms are gold orange, red-brown and yellow in color. They also repel Mexican bean beetles, nematodes and other insects. Some types to try are Antigua orange, Antigua primrose, discovery yellow, double eagle, Inca orange, mesa gold, safari tangerine and sweet cream.
Tropaeolum majus is a tall nasturtium variety and Tropaeolum minus is the dwarf form. Other common names are Indian cress, Mexican cress and Peruvian cress. Nasturtiums are used as a vegetable in some gardens. The leaves, flowers and seed pods are edible with a peppery flavor. Nasturtium leaves are 2 to 5 inches in diameter and produce five-petal yellow, orange and red flowers. Nasturtiums chase away aphids, squash bugs, whiteflies, striped cucumber beetles, striped pumpkin beetles, Mexican bean beetles and cabbage pests.
Calendula officinalis is also called pot marigold. It is a hardy annual that does well in cool weather. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall and thrives in full to partial sunlight. Calendula blossoms are single or double petal and yellow or orange in color. Calendulas deter beetles, Mexican bean beetles, nematodes, tomato worms and asparagus beetles. Calendula also attracts aphids and whiteflies so they do not attack the vegetables. Dogs do not like calendula flowers. Cultivars to try are Bon Bon, Coronet, Fiesta Gitana, Geisha Girl, Indian Song, Kablouna, Mandarin and Pacific Beauty.
Tanacetum vulgare is also called garden tansy or golden buttons. Tansy grows 1 to 6 feet tall with clumps of purplish-red stems and fern-like leaves. Clusters of small, yellow button shaped flowers sit on top of the stems. Tansy originated in Europe and is considered an ornamental plant that has gone wild in North America. It repels cabbageworms, cutworms, ants, beetles, bugs, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, flea beetles, aphids and flying insects. This perennial flower is invasive so it is best grown in contained areas and not allowed to go to seed.
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