Your first thought when you think of a vegetable garden might not be “Ah, here’s a really great spot to plant lots of flowers.”
But that might just change after scrolling through this post. Flowers play a really important role in the little ecosystem that is your outdoor space. They attract beneficial wildlife to your yard, help deter pest problems, increase your plant diversity, and of course, feed our pollinators, which in turn, ensures your fruiting plants get pollinated.
They also happen to look really pretty and might even lift your mood a bit when you step outside.
We’d say flowers are a win all around.
THE BEST FLOWERS TO GROW WITH YOUR FRUITS & VEGGIES
Here are ten of our favorite flowers that look stunning in a vegetable garden and do well here in Central Texas.
Let’s look at each of these beautiful flowering plants.
Calendula (pot marigold) is a great trap crop
Calendula, chamomile, and echinacea, which all come from the same plant family, are three easy medicinal herbs to grow in your garden if you’re interested in making your own teas or salves.
Once you grow calendula in your garden it reseeds itself very easily to come back again when the weather is right.
Calendula is a cool-to-warm-season crop. What that means is we can plant it in early spring (February to March) so it has time to settle in before hot weather, and again in the fall (September to October). Calendula can handle frost.
Calendula can grow 12 to 18 inches tall, so it’s a good one to plant in the middle or on the side of your raised bed, or even in an in-ground pollinator garden.
One major benefit of adding calendula to your vegetable beds—besides it being so pretty, of course—is its ability to act as a trap crop. It’s basically a magnet for pests that like to munch on your leafy greens. If you have calendula in your garden, you can easily dispose of all the pests gathered on your calendula plants before they make it over to your lettuce or kale leaves.
Our favorite varieties of calendula:
Flashback Calendula: Flashback has 2 to 3 inch blossoms in shades of orange, apricot, rosy-peach and cream. They add beauty to your garden and always attract visiting butterflies. This variety is also great for drying to make your own salves and lotions.
Orange and Lemon Twist Calendula – also called Butterfly Calendula because the pollinators absolutely love these flowers. Not only do they look great in the garden but they are edible. Just simply add them to your salads for a fun twist.
Marigolds attract beneficial insects to your garden
Marigolds are a beginner-friendly flower and super easy to grow from seed.
Thanks to their strong scent, they also make great companion plants for the veggies in your garden by repelling certain kinds of pests. Beneficial pollinators—the garden’s “good guys”—won’t be repelled though. They’ll be invited right in by the cheerful colors of marigolds.
Marigolds aren’t picky about their soil—just plant them in any sunny spot, and they’ll continue to thrive even on our hottest days. Smaller varieties are perfect for planting in the corners or along the edges of your raised beds to add bright pops of orange or yellow.
Whether you’re growing showy bright orange French marigolds or something more subtle like signet marigolds, you’ll be able to enjoy their beauty in your space from early spring to our first frost of winter. At the end of the season, it’s super easy to save marigold seeds for next year by collecting dried flower heads.
Our favorite varieties of marigolds include:
Cracker Jack African Marigold: Crackerjack is a mounding form flower head with consistent height, and sturdy flower stalks. The 4″ blooms come in orange, gold, and yellow will brighten up your vegetable bed, or large container plantings. They are easy to grow from seed and make excellent cut flowers. African Marigold petals are edible with a slightly bitter, citrusy/spice flavor. Be prepared for butterflies to visit!
French Marigold: These bright marigolds attract pollinators big and small. They are compact plants and tuck in beautifully between vegetables. Plants grow and flower quickly with continuous blooms. French marigolds are edible, but with a very strong flavor similar to its strong scent.
Chamomile is a useful medicinal plant that happens to grow flowers
Chamomile makes a great addition to any raised bed or container. These plants can be floppy, so we like to grow them on the edges, where they can hang over the sides.
German chamomile is an annual herb that produces the tastiest blooms of the two main varieties.
Chamomile loves cooler weather but can’t handle heavy frost. Wait until our last frost date has passed in the spring to plant by seed, and then try to give chamomile some afternoon shade in the hot summer months so the blooms don’t droop.
Chamomile has so many benefits (besides producing flowers that just make us smile to look at). Chamomile can relieve symptoms of colds and coughs, alleviate stress, relieve an upset stomach, soothe skin conditions like rashes, and of course, help you sleep. Both the leaves and flowers are edible and can be used as a garnish, or you can make your own chamomile tea with the blooms (dried or fresh).
Our favorite varieties of chamomile:
German Chamomile: What could be more enjoyable than making some chamomile tea made from flowers fresh from your garden? Their fresh scent is so soothing. The flowers can also be tossed into salads. In the garden, chamomile attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.
Bodegold Chamomile: This German variety of chamomile is an early bloomer and another great variety to have on hand for making your own herbal tea.
Petunias are the perfect border flower for the summer growing season
Petunias are another go-to for our warm and hot growing seasons because they can handle the heat.
Since petunias don’t grow very tall but spread out sideways, they’re ideal for planting along the very edge of your raised garden beds or containers. Petunias, pansies, and violas are all great annual flowers to use as ground cover in bare areas of your vegetable beds or even around potted fruit trees. Planting flowers strategically like this avoids patches of exposed soil, which dry out quickly and invite weeds into your garden space.
On hot days, these pretty little flowers can help shade the soil, which, in turn, helps your soil retain moisture. That means you don’t have to water as often.
Our favorite varieties of petunias:
Petite Charmer Blend: This compact blend in shades of red, rose, scarlet, salmon, violet, and white is charming in window boxes, borders, and containers. They will attract colorful butterflies and other helpful pollinators to your garden.
Garden Party Blend: These cute ruffled petunias offer that splash of color perfect for borders along your raised beds or in containers.
Zinnias produce the most beautiful blooms
Zinnias are gorgeous flowers that manage to attract a wide range of pollinators, everything from hummingbirds to ladybugs.
You’d think they’d be high maintenance, as beautiful things often are, but they’re super easy to grow from seed. They also thrive even on our hottest days when most other flowers are wilting.
Harvest your zinnia blooms often to encourage your plant to keep producing. Zinnias make excellent cut flowers, but blooms should be placed in fresh water ASAP after being harvested for best results.
Like with marigolds, it’s super easy to save dried flower heads so you’ll have seeds for next year!
Our favorite zinnia varieties:
Bling Bling Zinnias – These are zinnia elegans, which is your standard zinnia type, that come in really bold shades of pink, purple, and orange on long stems perfect for cutting.
Persian Carpet Zinnias – These lovely flowers are made for butterfly gardens, blooming in combos of gold, cream, and burgundy.
Cactus Flower Blend – These double blooms come in vibrant sunset colors, and the petals are long and feathery.
Thumbelina Mix – Perfect dwarf zinnia for small spaces or growing in containers.
Nasturtiums are a beautiful edible flower
Not only do the slightly spicy flowers make a colorful addition to your salads, they also attract all kinds of ladybugs to your garden with their hibiscus-like blooms, which can take care of any aphid problems you have.
Nasturtium seeds look a little wonky (kinda like dried brains), and they have such a thick seed coat that they benefit from being slightly sanded with a nail file before being planted. Other than that, this flowering plant is super easy to grow from seed in a sunny spot.
You can pick a bushy or trailing variety to suit your space. Trailing varieties look beautiful growing up a garden trellis.
Like calendula, nasturtiums are cool-to-warm-season crops, though nasturtiums cannot handle frost. Plant nasturtiums in late February through March and again in September through October.
Our favorite nasturtium varieties:
Cherries Jubilee: These cherry-rose colored nasturtiums are perfect to fill and soften garden beds or corners, cover bare spots, or cascade gracefully from your favorite patio pots or hanging baskets. Hummingbirds adore them.
Creamsicle: Creamsicle is a fine choice for garden beds and borders and is also a perfect choice for container plantings.
Pansies and violas make great ground cover
We’re pretty partial to pansies and violas around here. They love cool weather and can handle frost, making them the perfect flowers to add to your garden from fall to spring.
Both of these flowers spread side to side instead of growing very tall, so they’re perfect for the edges of raised beds. They can also be used as cover crops to grow around fruit trees to help retain moisture.
While you can certainly buy flats of pansies and violas at the garden center, you can also get a head start and grow your own from seed.
Bonus: You can find just about any color combo with these dainty little flowers.
Our favorite pansies and violas:
Grandma’s Johnny Jump Ups Vioalas: These heirloom edible flowers are the perfect addition to fill in spaces in your garden or containers. Not only do they look pretty but they are perfect to add to salads, butters, or even cookies.
Heirloom Pansies: aka Victorian Posy, are taller than modern pansy varieties and their romantic flowers are perfect for boxes and containers or show off at the front of your garden box borders.
Sunflowers do well growing in Texas soil
Sunflowers thrive under the hot Texas sun—they do have “sun” in their name, after all.
You can find dwarf varieties for growing in containers or raised beds, or you can plant normal varieties right in the ground. Just find a spot that gets 8 hours of sun a day and preferably doesn’t have a lot of wind. However large the flower head of the type you get will be, that’s how much room you need to leave between plants.
Plant seeds from mid-March through early April for flowers by June or July. Blooms linger on plants a long time and make excellent cut flowers.
If you’re interested in growing sunflowers for the seeds, it’s a good idea to protect the seed head by wrapping them with mesh to protect them from hungry birds. Otherwise, let the birds have at them. Sunflowers are a great food source for birds like cardinals.
Our favorite sunflower varities:
Junior Container Sunflowers: This dwarf multiblooming sunflower is perfect for edges of raised beds and containers. With long lasting blooms you will have beautiful flowers all summer long.
Paintbox Boquet: These beautiful multi-color sunflowers make for stunning boquets. They will need to be planted in a large garden or containers as they grow to 5-7 ft tall.
Edible Snack Seed: If you are looking to grow sunflowers for their edible seeds then these are the perfect sunflower to grow. They are a classic sunflower with large flower heads.
Basil flowers are a big hit with bees
Not only is basil a tasty plant to have in your herb garden, it also produces flower stalks that drive pollinators wild!
All basil varieties will eventually start going to seed and produce beneficial flowers, but African blue basil is especially good at drawing our native bees and other pollinators.
Basil is a great plant to grow here in Texas over the summer since it can thrive in heat as long as you keep it watered. You’ll get so many delicious leaves from one seed packet of basil, and when the plants are done, you’ll get flowers and then more seeds!
(Unfortunately, African blue basil is the one type that can’t be grown from seed, only from cuttings. Jump on any opportunity to buy this beautiful herb from your local nursery when they have it. The bees will thank you!)
Our favorite basil varieties:
Italian Genovese Basil: This authentic Italian heirloom variety is perfect for pesto, pasta and more. Highly productive and the bees can’t resist basil flowers!
Quenette Thai Basil: Beautiful flowers coupled with this aromatic herb perfect for all your Southeast Asian dishes.
We hope this list of flowers has inspired you to add some color and more aroma to your garden with flowers.
Picture stepping out to your backyard to harvest some peppers for a stir fry and cutting some blooms while you’re at it. Bringing flowers inside just increases the pleasure of gardening.
If we missed your favorite flower varieties that grow well here in Central Texas, let us know in the comments!
Pick a couple flowers from this list and plant them throughout your garden space!