Flowers may not be the first thing you think of when you’re planning your raised vegetable garden for the season, but they actually play an important role in the overall health of your garden space. 

Adding the right flowers to your raised beds can maximize both your garden’s beauty and production. 

So, which flowers make the perfect companion plants for your favorite herbs and veggies? And do you need to do anything special to care for these blooms? Let’s get into it!

best flowers for raised beds-attract pollinators and add beauty to your garden. photos of african daisies and dahlias

5 REASONS TO PLANT FLOWERS IN YOUR RAISED GARDEN BEDS

 

Most flowers aren’t very picky about the soil they’re planted in, though they do like to have good drainage. Even though they’d be perfectly happy growing in the ground, I add flowers to my raised beds for the benefits they can provide to the herbs and veggies growing right alongside them. 

Let’s look at the 5 different ways flowers can make raised bed gardening even better.

#1: Flowers Attract Pollinators to Your Garden

Your fruiting plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, etc.) have to be visited by pollinators like hummingbirds, bees, beetles, and butterflies in order to produce fruit. Flowers invite pollinators into your yard. They’ll come to drink some nectar and then stay to pollinate your fruiting plants, which will increase your overall production. 

#2: Flowers Help Control Garden Pests

In addition to attracting pollinators, flowers also pull in beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and ladybugs that like to eat pests. These garden good guys can take care of everything from hornworms to aphids for you.

Some flowers, marigolds in particular, actually attract insects we do want while also repelling insects we don’t want. Other flowers act as trap crops, which means they attract pests to them. Slugs and caterpillars that come for your leafy greens might chew on the leaves of your flowers instead. 

Overall, planting flowers means you won’t have to use as many pesticides (even organic ones) in your garden space. And that’s a win for your garden and the planet. 

#3: Flowers Keep Your Raised Beds Looking Attractive

We love to plant a mix of perennial herbs and low-growing flowers around the edges of every raised bed to ensure the bed looks full and to add color. Different flowers can make your beds look more elegant, whimsical, or bold.

#4: Flowers Fill in Empty Spaces

We don’t like to leave large empty spaces between plants. Bare soil invites weeds to grow in your vegetable garden. It also dries up quickly and loses nutrients. 

Use flowers as ground cover to fill in gaps between your veggies. They’ll shade the soil with their leaves and prevent weeds from growing. 

#5: Some Flowers Are Edible

Many of the flowers I recommend adding to your raised beds actually have edible blooms. Chamomile, for example, is used to make tea. Marigolds, snapdragons, and pansies can be tossed into your salad bowl for some color. 

Zinnias, while technically edible, don’t taste great, but they make beautiful decor for cakes and cheese boards. 

Calendula is typically not eaten, but you can use the blooms to make your own salves. 

You probably don’t buy many edible flowers from the grocery store, so this is one way you can experience new flavors and textures with your garden! 

flowers for raised beds - calendula

HOW TO SELECT THE BEST FLOWERS FOR YOUR RAISED BEDS

 

Flowers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Let’s look at the different things to consider when you’re choosing the best flowers for your raised-bed garden. 

Growing Season

Different flowers have different temperature preferences. Your blooms will look their best if you grow them during their preferred time of year. Here are some of my favorite flowers to grow in each season. 

Cool Season

When the temps are nice and cool (such as in spring and fall), there are a number of beautiful flowers that will thrive, even if you have some light frost at night. These flowers include: 

 

  • Chamomile
  • Pansies
  • Violas
  • Dianthus
  • Calendula
  • Snapdragons

Warm Season

If your average temps are in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, there are so many different flowers you can grow. These flowers include: 

 

  • Alyssum
  • Cosmos
  • Marigolds
  • Calendula
  • Petunias
  • Nasturtiums
  • Zinnias
  • Mini sunflowers

Hot Season

Should you have several months with temps in the 90s and up, stick with these beautiful but tough flowers that can take the heat:

 

  • Petunias
  • Vincas
  • Angelonia
  • Zinnias

Sun Exposure

You likely selected a location for your raised beds that receives full sun so that you can maximize your production. Most flowers do best in full sun, though some prefer some afternoon shade on hot days. If your beds are in partial shade and don’t get 6 to 8 hours of sun a day, your flowers will likely continue to grow, but you shouldn’t expect as many blooms. 

Flower Type

Flower varieties can be either annuals or perennials. I recommend sticking with annual flowers for your raised beds. You will have to change annual flowers with the season, but they’ll stay smaller and more manageable than perennial flowers. 

Some flower types have both annual and perennial varieties, so double check what you’re getting before you buy seeds or plants. Chamomile, for example, can be annual (German chamomile) or perennial (Roman chamomile). 

Flower Height and Spread

My favorite flowers to grow in raised beds tend to be low growing ones that spread side to side. Chamomile and petunias, for example, will flop over the edge of your raised bed and quickly fill in the space around them. 

Other flowers will send up beautiful flower spikes. Angelonia is a favorite, and pollinators really love their flowers. 

Some flowers can grow several feet tall. This is the case with many types of cosmos, zinnias, and some marigolds. 

Be mindful of the anticipated height and width of flowers when they’re mature. Make sure you give each flower enough space to spread out, and then keep the expected height in mind when you’re planning where to put your flowers. Tall blooms do best near the back of your raised beds so that they won’t block sunlight from your veggies. 

Visual Appeal

Seed companies have more options for colors, fragrances, and even petal shapes than ever before. I recommend choosing several different types of flowers to add throughout your raised beds every season. Each pollinator is attracted to certain flower shapes and colors, so you want various blooms in order to have widespread appeal. 

Having different types of flowers also ensures longer or more staggered bloom times. Your snapdragons might be fading, for instance, when your vincas are just taking off. 

You can still achieve a polished look by creating a color palette and selecting blooms in contrasting or complementary colors. 

I also recommend spreading your flowers throughout the garden instead of doing a mass planting of a single variety. This maximizes the potential benefit your flowers can have on your edible plants. Plus, it looks really pretty! 

THE BEST FLOWERS FOR RAISED BEDS

 

Now that you know a bit more about what we’re looking for in flowers, here are some flower varieties that thrive in raised beds: 

26 of the Best Flowers for Raised Beds bulleted list

If you’re having trouble narrowing it down, learn more about 10 of my absolute favorite flowers to grow in raised beds

HOW TO PLANT FLOWERS IN YOUR RAISED BEDS

 

You can buy transplants from your local nursery, start flowers from seed, or plant some bulbs. The best option really depends on the type of flower you’re growing. 

Before you plant any flowers, add some organic compost to the planting area. 

Flowers to Buy from the Nursery

I get so much enjoyment from the flowers in my raised beds that I consider it worth buying a flat of flowers like snapdragons or pansies when I see them.  

When you’re buying flowers, you might be tempted to pick the ones that are already blooming. It’s actually best to select flowers that are a little bit smaller and not quite ready to bloom. These will transplant better. 

Flowers to Direct Sow in Your Garden

Some flowers are super easy and fast to grow from seed. Save your money and buy a pack of seeds for flowers like marigolds, zinnias, calendula, and cosmos. 

Other flowers, like nasturtiums, don’t like to be moved, so you’ll do best to plant these right where they’ll grow in your garden. 

When you’re sowing flowers, avoid burying the seeds more than twice the width of the seed. Make sure to keep the planting area well watered until your flowers sprout. 

Flowers to Plant by Bulb

Planting bulbs is a bit different than planting seeds. Most bulbs are better off in in-ground flower beds, but dahlias are a good example of a bulb that thrives in raised beds. 

To plant a bulb, you’ll dig a hole about 6” deep. If the bulb is technically a tuber, as is the case with dahlias, make sure the “eye” is facing up. Cover with a couple inches of soil, and then add more soil as the stem grows, until you’re at soil level. 

Another big difference is you actually want to avoid watering your bulbs for a bit after planting. You’ll wait until the sprouts appear above the soil to avoid rotten bulbs. 

HOW TO CARE FOR FLOWERS IN RAISED BEDS

 

You shouldn’t have to do much flower bed maintenance. Most of your tending tasks should be focused on your edible plants. Think of your flowers as just along for the ride. 

Watering Flowers

Your flowers should be good to grow with however much water you’re giving your veggies (probably about 1” a week). 

Just like with your herbs, leafy greens, and fruiting plants, avoid getting water on the leaves of your flowers. Some flowers, zinnias in particular, are prone to powdery mildew, so you want to keep their leaves nice and dry to prevent fungal disease. 

Fertilizing Flowers

Most flowers don’t need anything more than the compost you added at the time of planting. There’s actually such a thing as over-fertilizing your flowers. (This is why wildflowers that are grown in well-amended garden beds tend to grow too tall and flop over.) 

If you do feel like your flowers could use a little nutritional boost, you could add more compost, sprinkle some earthworm castings, or add a liquid fertilizer like MicroLife’s Maximum Blooms. When using a fertilizer, make sure to follow the directions on the label for dosage and frequency. 

Mulching Flowers

I don’t recommend mulching flowers in raised beds. Remember, the goal is to use flowers, perennial herbs, and veggies to fill in the entire raised bed. When you do that, their leaves shade the soil, which protects it from drying out and losing nutrients. Mulch is really not necessary. 

Pruning and Deadheading Flowers

Pruning yellowing or pest-affected leaves keeps your flowers healthy. You can also encourage your flowering plants to grow bushier and produce more blooms later by pinching off the first bloom as it’s forming. 

Deadheading just means to cut off old flowers once they’re fading. You’ll want to remove spent blooms regularly to promote new blooms. Use scissors or your fingers to pinch off old blooms.

Protecting Flowers from Frost and Heat

Use frost cloth or old blankets to protect your flowers from frost. Some flowers, like pansies, can survive a hard freeze uncovered, but your plants will stay prettier if you give them some protection against the cold. 

In the summer, most flowers will benefit from some shade cloth when temps rise into the 90s and up. Hardy plants can survive the heat uncovered, but even they might be too stressed to bloom until the temps cool off a bit. 

I hope this complete guide encourages you to start a raised bed flower garden or add more blooms to your existing vegetable garden. Flowers are so easy to grow, they add color and beauty, and they benefit your overall space. What’s not to love? 

Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about growing flowers in your raised garden beds.