I absolutely love growing flowers all around my yard, wherever I can. I make sure that each year I have a variety of flowers that bloom at different times of the year to support pollinators throughout the season. I keep dandelions in my yard, they make for great plant medicine as well as food for bees in the early season. I keep long blooming flowers around too, like sunflowers or calendula, etc. You can buy specific seed packets for bees, shade gardens, butterflies, etc. I always suggest adding in native perennial plants too. Having plants that are not necessarily perennial, but re-seed on their own and come back yearly make a great addition too. I often throw seeds around my flower garden areas with no real plan of specific flowers for specific spots. I prefer the wild unkempt look of my gardens, they look and feel more natural to me. Growing flowers adds so much beauty to the kitchen garden. Having flowers tucked in to raised beds can really help bring the pollinators to your food crops. Some flowers can deter pests with their fragrant aroma, whiles others can act as a pest trap, luring pests to them instead of your food crops. Below you will see just a few of my must grow flowers, I could easily make this list incredibly long. It is hard to narrow it down, but here are some that I make sure I have in my gardens each year. These are all easy to grow flowers, that don’t require too much maintenance. There are other flowers that could have made the list, but they require proper methods for germination or storage. (Think dahlias or poppies)
- Bachelor button/Cornflower – I love these flowers and they top my list of favorite flowers period. They grow to be about 2-3 feet tall with lovely stems that are a unique shade of green. Bees absolutely love them, at any moment during the day I can see numerous bees buzzing around them collecting pollen.
- Calendula/Pot Marigold – Though not related to marigolds, the resemblance is close and people often use the bloom in soups, so they are also known as pot marigold. This flower made my list of must grow medicinal herbs for good reason and its flowers are beautiful and make great plant medicine for soothing the skin. (Think soothing salves.) They grow to be around 1- 2 feet tall.
- Columbine – Not only are columbines the state flower of Colorado, they are a favorite and probably one of the first flowers I grew as an adult. My mom and I exchange seeds depending on what comes up in our yards. She usually has red and purple and I usually have yellow.
- Cosmos – I have yet to see a cosmo variety that I didn’t love. For years these flowers have topped my favorite flowers list. The Bright Lights variety is my current favorite, but I also adore the Diablo variety as well as the Sea Shells blend. These flowers are not my first pick for cut flowers though, I stick to admiring them in the garden, while most on this list make great cut flowers.
- Dianthus/Sweet William – These flowers are biennials, but I suggest sowing seeds yearly to ensure flowers each year. (Biennial plants, grow leaves/greens the first year then flower the second year.) The petals are edible and can be added as a garnish to salads, etc. I collect seeds from the flowers each year, them in early spring I toss the seeds all over my pollinator and meadow garden beds.
- Marigolds – These make the list because I have grown them since I was a little girl. I love the flowers and there is something I like about their scent, though others might not like their scent. It sort of reminds me of a skunk, but not at the same time! A single flower will give you many seeds that can easily be saved. I let the flowers go to seed and drop their seeds naturally, but I also save seeds to toss about in my gardens.
- Nasturtium – These flowers make an appearance in my gardens largely because they are a favorite of my eldest son, plus they are edible. You can add the flowers to salads or atop soups, etc. I always soak my seeds for 12-24 hours before sowing after my last frost. I also often have volunteers that pop up from overwintered seeds. Nasturtium can also be a trap plant for aphids, I like to grow them trailing down the corners of my raised beds.
- Snapdragons – These are near and dear to my heart because I have always loved them. I have loved them even more because I was gifted a hanging basic of flowers as a thank you from my sons elementary school for the years I spent volunteering at the school and running the recycling program. With those snapdragons in that hanging basket, I collected the seeds and have been sowing seeds each year from flowers grown from these. I am on my 5th generation of flowers from these seeds. The seeds are so tiny, you could collect seeds from one plant and have enough seeds to share with others.
- Sunflowers – I couldn’t have this list without adding sunflowers. They brighten any garden and are sure to bring a smile to anyones face. There are a variety to choose from, from mammoth flowers to varied colors, you really can’t go wrong. I love Mexican Sunflowers and Honey Bear varieties. If you want to save the seeds go for a sunflower with a bigger head or find a variety specific to saving seeds.
I could make this list go on and on and on, it is definitely hard to narrow it down. Don’t forget about flower mixes as they can give you an assortment of flowers that bloom at different times. Specific mixes I have used include: Bring Home the Butterflies, Fairy Meadow Flower mix, Made in the Shade, and Save the Bees flower mix to name a few. All are from Botanical Interests (I am a long time customer of Botanical Interests and have purchased many, many seeds over the years.) Honorable mentions: Coreopsis, lavender, lilacs, wallflower, scabiosa, cilantro flowers and so much more! Let me know your must grow flowers in the comments!