Flowers. Next to diamonds I dare say they are a girl’s best friend.
Flowers are also your garden’s best friend. In the past, I’ve often been guilty of not planting enough flowers and I’ve been punished for it. This year, I vowed to plant more flowers and I think I’ve done a good job. Not only are they beautiful and appealing to the eye, but they play an important role in the health of your plants.
Flowers do many things aside from being beautiful. Here is a simplified list of the ways in which they help your garden:
1. Reproduction – The flower is the reproductive organ of the plant. It is what (following pollination) produces the fruit or vegetable that we eat. It is also where the seed is produced so that more of the same plant will grow in the future.
2. Food for Insects – The nectar and pollen produced by the flower is what is eaten by many insects who in turn pollinate the flower, which then results in a fruit or vegetable that we eat. Some of the most important pollinators that are attracted by flowers include bees, wasps, ants, and butterflies. Further, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that we are facing a worldwide epidemic involving the loss of bees. Anytime we can promote their health and vitality, the better and one way we can do that is by planting more flowers.
3. Food for Humans – As already mentioned, the flower produces the fruit or vegetable that we eat. Bees also produce honey as a byproduct of their work.
4. Attract Beneficial Insects – Planting flowers is one main way that you can attract beneficial insects to your garden. These not only include the pollinators that were mentioned above, but also the ones that eat other harmful bugs. Lacewings and ladybugs are two beneficial insects that do just that. This is where I’ve had trouble in the past. I’ve had HUGE aphid infestations and I honestly believe that had I planted more flowers and attracted more beneficial insects, the aphid problem wouldn’t have grown so out of control.
Finally, while I would argue that all flowers are beautiful and useful, several stand above the rest in their ability to help the garden and bring the right critters to your space. Some of the best flowers for attracting pollinators and beneficial insects are calendula, marigolds, chamomile, and nasturtium.
What has been your track record with flower planting? Have you done enough of it? If so, what flowers do you think are the best to plant?