You want to use your garden space to grow pretty flowers, but you also want room to grow the herbs you love for cooking. What’s a gardener to do? Plant them together, of course! Mix and match popular culinary herbs with edible and medicinal flowers in the same garden bed for a fragrant, attractive, and productive space.
Not only will you have everything you need for delicious recipes and herbal remedies right at your fingertips, but you’ll also get to enjoy the beauty of your flowers as they attract pollinators to the garden.
You can easily plant flowers among herbs by following the basic rules of interplanting. Make sure all plants have similar water and sunlight needs and are compatible in height and growth habits. Choose plants with complementary colors, textures, and bloom times to extend the season of interest in your garden.
To get your companion planting project off on the right foot, take note of a few essential guidelines for growing plants together. Then, take advantage of the list of fantastic combinations to get you started.
Can you plant flowers next to herbs?
Planting flowers within your herb garden is simple to do, and it can yield beautiful results. Following just a few guidelines will help each plant have its needs met, such as providing the right soil, full sunlight exposure, and
|Drier soil||Echinacea, cosmos, black eyed Susan, salvia, blanket flower||Rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, oregano|
|Wetter soil||Sunflower, zinnia, calendula, nasturtium, marigold, pansy, petunia||Basil, cilantro, chives, parsley, dill|
|Alone||Mint, lemon balm, fennel|
Create mixtures to beautify your garden and attract pollinators
Many herbs like sage, chamomile, and coneflower have striking flowers that look stunning in dedicated herb beds. The natural charm of these herbs can be amplified by pairing them with ornamental flowers that complement their unique coloring, texture, and shapes.
For example, black-eyed Susan and yarrow come in bright yellows and golden oranges that look gorgeous beside the purple and pink of sage and coneflower.
Or plant mint among your zinnias and prepare for a full garden. Mint loves to spread and grow, and zinnias can reach five feet under the right conditions, so planting these two together will give you plenty of flowers and foliage to enjoy.
In addition to looking beautiful, adding flowers to your herb garden will amplify your garden’s appeal to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Bees will be happy to visit the flowers of cilantro gone to flower, and they’ll be sure to stop by the neighboring sunflowers, snapdragons, and black eyed Susan, as well.
Choose compatible plants
Before planting any flowers in your herb beds and containers, it can help to research your specific herbs to determine what flowers will grow best with them. The soil, sunlight, and water requirements will be the information that stands out in finding these pairings.
For instance, some herbs, like rosemary, prefer well-drained, slightly dry soil, which is similar to the needs of yarrow, making them suitable companion plants. On the other hand, basil prefers more moist soil, so moisture-loving petunias would be a better option to plant in your basil pot.
Apart from soil type, you should also consider plant height, which can dictate the size of the planter you’ll need and also the flowers you plant with specific herbs. For instance, you wouldn’t want to grow tall flowers with very short herbs, like thyme, as your herbs may be smothered out.
Pay attention to the few exceptions
Additionally, it can be helpful to know that some herbs don’t grow well with ornamentals. Fennel, for example, tends to inhibit the growth of any plant it’s planted with, while certain flowers may attract unwanted pests that might devour your edible herbs before you have a chance to eat them.
Taken altogether, it may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. With a bit of know-how and a little research, you can easily determine which ornamental blooms will thrive in your herb beds and planters. By expanding the use of your herb beds, you’ll not only maximize garden space but add visual interest as well.
Planting herbs and flowers together in pots
If you don’t have an in-ground garden, you can create a mixed herb and flower garden just as easily in pots and planters.
Growing herbs and flowers together in the same pot is a great way to save space in your garden. It also looks beautiful when the plants are blooming. By choosing the right plants, you can create a stunning display that will add interest and color to your garden.
Just as with an in-ground garden, you’ll need to choose herbs and flowers that are compatible with their growth habit and sunlight and water needs. Compatability is especially important for potted herbs and flowers because the plants will share space closely.
When you’re ready to plant, place the taller plants in the middle of the container and the shorter ones on either side. This placement will help create a balanced look and avoid one plant smothering another.
Growing herbs in pots is a perfect way to create a microclimate for plants that aren’t necessarily suited to your environment.
For example, if you live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, lavender can be hard to grow in-ground. Try planting it in a large terracotta pot to provide the drier soil it prefers. Add some annual flowers like cosmos that can also take dry soil, and you have a pollinator haven in a pot.
Which herbs and flowers are good companions in the garden?
One of the most important things to remember when pairing herbs and flowers is that most herbs are quite drought tolerant, while many flowering plants prefer regular watering. Select compatible plants with similar water needs to avoid problems down the road.
With that in mind, here are some of our favorite herbs and flowers to grow together:
Chives are easy-care, perennial herbs that will grow happily in pots and garden beds with little fuss. Chives require well-drained soil and full sunlight, which can be helpful to know when choosing plants to pair with your chives.
As alliums, chives are particularly useful as companion plants when utilized for their natural pest-repelling properties. Gardeners have known this simple fact for years, and that’s why roses are decidedly one of the best plants to add to your chive beds. Not only will your roses grow faster, but chives also will help your roses naturally resist issues like black spot.
Cilantro is a cool-season herb that grows as an annual in most areas. Because it doesn’t tolerate heat well, succession sowing cilantro can ensure you have a good crop all season long. For me, that means starting a new batch of seeds when I see the first signs of bolting in my first crop.
When choosing flowers to grow with your cilantro, pick varieties that enjoy a fair amount of moisture. Tall flowers that can provide additional shade to your cilantro crop can keep your cilantro from bolting quickly.
Great choices for cilantro pots include plants like zinnias, coreopsis, and sweet alyssum.
Basil is an easy-care, annual herb that grows very well as a container plant. When deciding which flowers to combine with basil, choose ornamentals that like frequent watering and opt for plants that can provide partial afternoon shade for your basil, as too much bright afternoon sun can cause sunburn to your basil leaves.
While basil’s easy-going nature means it will pair well with many different flowering plants, some of the best plants to grow with your basil include impatiens, cosmos, blanket flowers, and violas.
Lemon balm is a variety of mint, which means you should always plant it in a container unless you want it to spread. When left unchecked, lemon balm can quickly overwhelm garden beds and outcompete less vigorous plants, so keep that in mind when choosing which ornamentals to pair with your lemon balm.
Any plant you choose to grow with lemon balm should be tall or equally vigorous to stand up to the herb’s rapid growth. The flowers will also need regular water since lemon balm is herbaceous and appreciates regular irrigation.
Hollyhocks, bee balm, angelica, and sunflowers are excellent choices, as their tall height ensures they won’t be overwhelmed.
Like lemon balm, mint grows rapidly and should be kept in planters and pots to prevent it from taking over. Occasionally, however, some gardeners opt to plant mint as a low-maintenance groundcover, utilizing regular mowing to keep it from getting too unruly.
In fact, I have mint in my lawn that started in a garden bed and creeped out into the grass, where I let it grow between mowings. One pass with the mower and the air smells minty and delicious. The mint grows right back like it never happened.
Any plant that grows well with lemon balm will work with mint, too, such as tall sunflowers. If you don’t mind pruning your mint, you can grow with just about any medium to tall flower, such as calendula, marigold, or cosmos.
Rosemary loves dry, well-drained, slightly acidic soil and should only be planted with ornamental flowers that can handle a bit of drought. The easiest way to kill a rosemary plant is to overwater it. Any plant you combine with your rosemary should have minimal water requirements and be able to tolerate being watered every week or less.
While many flowers will grow well near rosemary, some good options include dahlias, marigolds, geraniums, and chrysanthemums. Dahlias, in particular, make for an ideal pairing as rosemary naturally deters dahlias’ greatest nemesis: slugs.
Another drought-tolerant perennial herb, oregano, loves sunny spots and well-drained soil. It is a surprisingly pretty plant with fragrant foliage and charmingly tiny flowers. Oregano will creep over the ground, so give it room to spread for the best growth.
Try choosing ornamentals with complementary colors and growth habits to draw attention to your oregano. Some great options include bee balm, dahlias, roses, and sunflowers. And, as with rosemary, these pairings work exceptionally well as oregano naturally repels pests, like leafhoppers, spider mites, and aphids, that might otherwise munch on these flowers.
As a drought-tolerant, perennial herb, sage works well when combined with other ornamental plants that don’t need lots of water. Bee balm, poppies, and yarrow, for instance, all make great additions to sage beds and planters.
While most common culinary sage has green leaves, for extra interest in your arrangements, try to find some variegated or purple sage varieties for an extra pop of color. The deep hues of purple sage are only accentuated by planting it near the complementary colors of black-eyed Susan and sunflowers.
Nasturtium makes a vibrant addition to any planters, but for more tidy plants, choose mounding rather than trailing varieties. These flowers grow well with just about any herb that appreciates regular water and rich soil, such as mint, basil, and chives.
Adept at repelling whiteflies and aphids, nasturtium is an excellent companion plant for begonias, which have similar care requirements and are often targeted by the very same pests nasturtiums repel.
Other great options are flowers with red, orange, or yellow blooms that will look particularly pretty in fall planting arrangements when paired with nasturtiums’ orange and yellow flowers for an autumnal display.
Pansies are one of my favorite flowers to grow in the herb garden. They are low maintenance, edible and make a great display when planted en masse. Pansies and many herbs share a similar preference for well-drained soil and full to partial sun, making them good companion plants for herbs such as chives, parsley and cilantro.
Pretty little pansies add fresh flavor and a delicate touch when used as garnishes in salads, drinks, and desserts. Even better, their undemanding nature makes them well-suited for container planting with a wide range of ornamental flowers.
Common pairings for pansies include dianthus, chrysanthemums, daffodils, and tulips.
Calendula is a beneficial plant prized for its anti-inflammatory and skin moisturizing properties when used in salves and creams. It is also an edible herb with its leaves and colorful petals, making delicate and tasty additions to salads and garnishes.
A cousin of marigolds, calendula is great at repelling garden pests, which you can utilize to your benefit by choosing companion flowers that naturally struggle from pest predation. Roses and geraniums can undoubtedly benefit from growing near calendula, while calendula’s bright orange color can complement the hues of salvia or bachelor buttons.
Marigolds are not only beautiful and cheerful flowers, but they also have a number of practical uses in the garden.
Marigold’s strong smell deters many common garden pests, making them an excellent companion plant for herbs and other delicate plants. In addition, the flowers can be used to add a splash of color to salads or as a natural dye for fabrics.
Marigolds are easy to grow and make an attractive addition to any garden. They are versatile flowers that can be used in many different ways, making them a valuable asset for any gardener.
A drought-resistant perennial herb, coneflowers are pollinator favorites and offer immune-boosting
Echinacea, also known as the purple coneflower, is a beautiful addition to any herb garden. Sometimes considered an herb itself, this flower has a number of practical benefits.
One of the most important is its ability to attract bees and other pollinators. Echinacea is also known for its medicinal properties, and many herbalists recommend it for colds and flu. The flowers can be dried and used to make tea, or the fresh leaves can be added to salads.
In short, echinacea is a versatile and useful plant that belongs in every herb garden. It prefers dry, well-draining soil and full sun, coneflowers work well with any ornamental with similarly forgiving needs, such as yarrow, bee balm, catmint, or oregano.
Are there any herbs and flowers that do not grow well together?
Flowers can be grown with most herbs, but there are a few exceptions, most notably fennel.
Fennel can prove exceedingly difficult to plant with any other plant, flower, vegetable, or otherwise, as it naturally inhibits the growth of almost all plants. While this helps fennel ensure it doesn’t have much competition in the garden, if you want to grow fennel, avoid planting any flowers nearby as they are unlikely to thrive.
Dill prefers a more acidic soil than many herbs, so it can benefit from being planted on its own, though it won’t stop other herbs from thriving if planted nearby.
Rue is another herb commonly said to grow separately, though to be honest, I don’t know anyone who has ever grown rue (myself included!), so I don’t know how it performs if planted among other herbs or flowers.