Flowers have lots of benefits for your vegetable garden – they provide shade, retain water and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Pollinators are particularly attracted to plants with bright colours or particular scents.
When they land on flowers, they collect nectar, which they feed on, and pollen, which clings to them. As they fly around, they leave a little pollen on all the other plants they land on, fertilizing them, so that they’ll produce fruits and vegetables for you later in the season.
Columbines, borage, nasturtiums, Echinacea and goldenrod are some of the annuals and perennials that are attractive to pollinating insects. Visit the Space for Life site for the full list of these beneficial flowers.
Lots of herbs like chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme also attract pollinators and many grow well in pots. Some also serve as host plants for butterflies. However, you need to let them flower and let caterpillars take up residence!
Want to do your part to save the bees and other important pollinators and make sure you get a bountiful harvest at the same time? Here are a few “hospitality rules” for welcoming pollinators into your garden:
- Grow nectar-producing plants directly in your garden bed or around the borders
- Make sure you have a variety of plants that flower at different times during the season.
- Integrate native plants into your garden as much as possible, because their flowers are usually rich in nectar and pollen.
- You can also plant flowers in pots if you grow your vegetables on your patio or balcony.
All pollinators have different preferences, of course, and some of them have very eclectic tastes. Bees are one pollinator who play an indispensable role. In fact, we’ve even hosted them on the roofs of several of our buildings! See our article The importance of bees in our ecosystems to learn more about their important contributions.