Flowers can help take a garden from good, to great. From nice, to amazing. From fab, to fab-u-lous! They add a visual component that fruits and vegetables just cannot achieve on their own. (Of course, they are still beautiful in their own way). When chosen correctly, many flowers can attract pollinators and other beneficial critters to the garden. Some flowers, you can even eat! There really are so many reasons to grow flowers, you probably just want to go out and plant some right now. But wait! If you read on, you will get a better understanding of what flowers may be right for you, and how to use them in ways you may not have thought of before.

Providing for Pollinators

Flowers developed their beautiful showy petals in order to attract insects that will pollinate them and help the plants reproduce. The insects may even get a meal out of the deal, from the flowers delicious nectar. Attracting pollinating insects, such as butterflies and bees into your garden can be beneficial for you, the plants, and the insects. Many of these species are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss as well as problems caused by the use of certain pesticides. Learn more about the plight of the pollinators here. 
There are several ways to attract pollinators and help the populations thrive. One is to plant flowers such as calendulas, cosmos, or zinnias which will attract pollinating insects. Even better, plant a variety of flowers that are native to your area. To find out what native plants attract pollinators in your area, enter your location into this website

Some of the best flowers to add to the vegetable garden for pollinators are:
Yellow snapdragon flowers, with white alyssums in the background

Snapdragon flowers in our garden, with white alyssums in the background. Both of these flowers are a favorite of pollinators.

Summer Blooms:
  • Bee Balm
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Echinacea

Fall Blooms:

  • Asters
  • Salvia
  • Zinnias

Planting milkweed can help restore the population of the iconic monarch butterfly by providing a place for the butterfly to lay her eggs and food for the growing caterpillars.

A benefit of attracting pollinators to your garden is that they may help naturally pollinate your plants. Squash, cucumbers, and melons all benefit from bee pollination. Often, the more bees that visit a flower will improve pollination and ultimately produces a larger, more delicious harvest. On a global scale, cross-pollination due to insects helps to produce at least 30 percent of the world’s crops. Another way you can encourage the growth of the pollinator population near your home is to hang a ‘bee house’ which provides a permanent home for solitary bees (as opposed to honey bees and bumblebees). You can purchase one here or build one yourself. The bee hotels require a bit of maintenance, but you also get to watch the entire lifecycle of any solitary bees that choose to make it their home. Many people doing their small part to provide food and habitat for pollinators can make big differences that protect them.   

Making Food Fancy

Edible flowers are a special treat. Honestly, I never thought twice about them until not too long ago. But, as I have tried them more, I really have begun to enjoy adding them to a dish. They add flavors and colors that may not typically be used in the kitchen. And as a bonus, you get to feel extra fancy. It’s all about knowing the flavors and trying new things! Check out our flower flavor chart at the bottom of this page to help you pick the flowers with the flavors you are looking for.

When adding flowers to a dish, it is typically as a garnish. A salad with flower petals instead of leafy greens would probably not taste that great. But hey, to each their own. The kitchen is a place to be creative after all! Some of our favorite recipes that include edible flowers are: stuffed and fried squash blossoms, calendula petals in a summer salad, and pansy flowers frozen in ice cubes added to some lemonade 🙂 Brit & Co. gathered a bunch of really cool food and drinks that beautifully incorporate flowers.

There are three things we keep in mind when working with edible flowers. 
Small purple and white pansies

Pansies, one of our favorite edible flowers to add to a drink or decorate a cake.

  1. Some flowers are poisonous
    It is especially important to keep this in mind if you have small children or pets, since you can’t always control what goes in their mouth. When in doubt (and you can’t look it up) just don’t eat it. Better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Only eat the petals
    Just to be on the safe side. It is recommended that the stem, sepal, stamen, and pistil of the flower are removed before being eaten.   
  3. Only eat the flowers that are grown for eating
    This rule basically means to avoid eating the flowers that you find in a park or around the neighborhood. These flowers may have been treated with harmful pesticides, or may otherwise be unsafe to eat.

Decorating the Home

A simple bouquet of day lilies

A simple bouquet of day lilies gathered from our garden.

As nature lovers, we always have house plants and flowers throughout our home. They bring a small sense of beauty and calmness that is often appreciated. Bringing flowers into our home, or giving them to a loved one to brighten their own home, is one of my favorite things ever. I tend to get carried away in the flower shop, creating my own bouquets (with help from the florist). We are hoping to start a cut flower patch, to brighten up the yard and reduce the number of trips to the florist. Plus, growing your own flowers is more environmentally friendly than purchasing flowers that may be grown in monoculture fields hundreds of miles away. Writer and horticulturist Louise Curley wrote the book,The Cut Flower Patch, which contains a bunch of information about what flowers to grow and advice on how to grow them. Get it here Creating stunning bouquets is definitely an art, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t create something just as beautiful yourself.

Here are some of the tips we have learned from professional florists, as well as our own trial and error. 
  • Get some inspiration
    We follow some florists on instagram and other social media sources that create some stunning bouquets that we use as inspiration for creating something of our own.
  • Snip the ends and remove the bottom leaves
    This is a classic trick that will make your arrangement last much longer. Snip the ends at a 45 degree angle to improve the flow of water through the stem. Remove any leaves below the water-line, otherwise they will begin to decompose rather quickly.
  • Keep them cool
    Apartment Therapy shared a test of the best way to keep flowers freshThe verdict, put them in the fridge over night. Well we don’t always have the room for a bouquet or two of flowers to fit in the fridge. So instead, we just replenish them daily (or a couple times a day) with water that has been kept in the fridge.
  • Have 3 or 4 sets of plant material
    A really great bouquet consists of a base of leafy greens and/or twigs, larger focal flowers, smaller secondary flowers, and then perhaps some fillers flowers.
  • Add in odd numbers
    This is a tip from florists. I don’t really get it, but it definitely seems to help to create a beautiful, cohesive bouquet.
  • Keep it together
    Gently secure your bouquet with a rubber band, tape, or flower foam available hereThis way, the flowers stay right where you want them. 
  • Create depth
    Have flowers at different heights, and/or reaching away from the base. This makes for a much more visually dynamic bouquet.
  • Go with your gut
    Find what you like and what may fit your home. If you don’t like it, change it!
Guide for edible flower chart: 
  1. Pansy
  2. Lavender
  3. Violet
  4. Borage
  5. Peony
  6. Carnation (light colored)
  7. Tulip
  8. Hibiscus
  9. Dandelion
  10. Rose
  11. Courgette Blossoms (squash family)
  12. Allium Blossoms (garlic family)
  13. Chrysanthemums
  14. Snapdragons
  15. Fushia
  16. Crocus (saffron flower)
  17. Calendula
  18. Micro Dianthus
  19. Carnation (dark colored)
  20. Marigold
  21. Nasturtium
  22. Bee Balm