Although the weather has warmed, the nights are still too cool to place your annual flowers outside. I was recently at the garden center and overheard a customer asking where the hanging baskets were. The store owner told them they were still out back and not for sale and warned the customer that it was too chilly for the plants to go outside yet. The customers were eager and wanted to get their garden started. That’s a typical reaction when the weather turns sunny.
Instead of buying your annual flowers now, start planning what colours you want and where you want to plant your flowers. By having a plan before shopping you won’t waste money on plants that don’t fit your garden. I tend to do one section of the garden at a time. I decide which plants I want and plant each section. I won’t be planting annual flowers until May. Once the nights warm up to a consistent 12C-15C its time to plant. Plants set out too early will sit and sulk. The cooler nights are not suitable for many of the annual flowers we plant out in late spring.
Zinnia ‘Purple Prince’ and Zinnia ‘Green Envy’
Last year I chose a green and purple theme for along my front walk. I planted two different colours of Zinnias and some purple Snapdragon. It worked well and supplied me with colour all summer long. That’s the great thing about annual flowers. Unlike their perennial cousins, annual flowers bloom for months on end as long as they are properly cared for.
Many people find annual flowers expensive and they are if you have a large garden. I started growing all my annual flowers from seed this year. So what am I growing? Nasturtiums are one of my favourites and I like to add them to the kitchen garden for colour. They are also edible and brighten up any salad.
Zinnia ‘Green Envy’
It wouldn’t be summer without Zinnias. I fell in love with this wonderful annual a few years ago and always find somewhere to plant them. They are wonderful cut flowers.
Marigold ‘Bonanza Mix’
I am also growing Marigolds again. I know, it’s an old-fashioned flower but it has staying power. They last until first frost unlike any other annual. There are many kinds of Marigolds you can choose from. I collect seeds from my Marigolds at the end of the season to use the following year. Each finished flower contains hundreds of seeds.
I am trying a couple of new annual flowers from seed this year. One of them is Purple Millet Grass. I had no idea this grass was so easy to grow from seed. I attended a Seedy Saturday event and was able to find seeds for this popular annual grass. It starts out green and later the leaves turn a deep purple. I can’t wait to use this plant in containers and in the ground.
The other annual is Nicotiana. Nicotiana grows quickly from seed. It’s a lovely plant to use in the annual flower garden. It comes in shades of white, reds and pinks. I am growing red Nicotiana and it’s a colour I don’t usually use in the garden. I think the red is a soft one so it should blend well with the other plants in the garden.
Snapdragon ‘Purple Prince’
Since it’s too early to buy annual flowers, try growing some from seed. You can direct sow many annual flowers this month. Try your hand at growing Sunflowers, Nasturtiums, Snapdragon, Alyssum, Cosmos, Calendula, Cleome, Marigolds and Bachelor’s Buttons. They are easy if you haven’t grown flowers from seed before. You can plant the seeds in small pots and transplant later or plant them directly where you want them to grow. Sometimes its easier to start them in a small pot. It’s very easy to accidentally weed out tiny seedlings if you haven’t grown them before. That’s how I learned. You can save seed from all the flowers listed above by collecting them in the fall. That’s a big saving next year!
April is here and that means our cabin fever has reached its breaking point. The sun is shining longer and we need to be outside. Many of us see the sunshine and have the urge to start our gardening. We’ve been waiting months to be outside. We want to start playing in the dirt. But April’s weather might not be stable enough for all flowers. Here are few flowers that will be perfectly happy with April’s ever-changing weather.
Million bells were exported from South America to Europe in the 1800’s but overshadowed by petunias for a long time. Like other members of the plant family, Solanaceae is a tender perennial, but most gardeners treat the spring through frost bloomers as annuals. The blooms of million bells are approximately one inch across, and many sport veining or colorful throats that contrast with the primary petal color. Million bells’ foliage is bright green, oval-shaped, and compact. While they grow best in full sun, they can grow in colder shaded areas. Million bells are extremely resilient and are a perfect April flower.
Daylilies grow in many climates, and numerous hybrids are available in a variety of colors. The daylily is a hardy perennial. They can grow almost anywhere and they flower from October to January and March to April. When you choose the correct variety for your particular location they may flower up to six months each year. These flowers are able to survive with very little care in a wide range of climates. They are pretty much suitable for all types of landscapes. Daylilies are drought tolerant when necessary, with relatively few pest and disease problems in most gardens.
Not many flowers are as synonymous with spring as the lilac. Lilac’s familiar scent screams spring. Lilacs are super easy to grow and are very low maintenance. These flowers love chilly weather mixed with bright sun. Lilacs can be tough to care for, though. They grow into large bushes and will need pruning. They only bloom 7-14 days at a time, but if you can manage to plant overlapping species the bloom time can be extended up to 5-6 weeks. The amazing thing about lilacs is that they are one of the most winter hardy ornamental plants around. They can withstand temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit but may need some protection from icy winds that could damage the flower buds. They need well-draining soil to prevent frozen water from damaging their roots and killing the tree.
Despite the derogatory nature associated with the name, pansies are very tough. Pansies are perfect for providing color when the rest of the garden looks as if it’s still in hibernation. These cool-weather lovers can actually make it through frosts and can even survive single-digit temperatures. Pansies can weather temperatures in the single digits and bounce back after the weather warms. But they can only be that strong if they’ve had a chance to get a good footing. Pansies will thrive best if the soil temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. This low temperature makes them perfect for April planting.
Early spring flowers can bring the color and warmth of spring to your garden weeks ahead of schedule. Not only do early spring blooming flowers add beauty, they can be helpful in attracting bees and butterflies to help pollinate your yard early in the season.
- What to sow and grow in April
- Flowers to sow and grown
- Herbs & Vegetables to sow and grow
- Fruit to sow and grow
- Keep one step ahead – what to order this month:
- January Birth Flowers: Carnation and Snowdrop
- February Birth Flowers: Violet and Primrose
- March Birth Flower: Daffodil
- April Birth Flowers: Daisy and Sweet Pea
- May Birth Flowers: Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn
- June Birth Flowers: Rose and Honeysuckle
- July Birth Flowers: Larkspur and Water Lily
- August Birth Flowers: Gladiolus and Poppy
- September Birth Flowers: Aster and Morning Glory
- October Birth Flowers: Marigold and Cosmos
- November Birth Flower: Chrysanthemum
- December Birth Flowers: Narcissus and Holly
- The Birth Month Flowers
- January ~ Carnation & Snowdrop
- February ~ Violet & Primrose
- March ~ Daffodil & Jonquil
- April ~ Daisy & Sweet Pea
- May ~ Lily of the Valley & Hawthorn
- June ~ Rose & Honeysuckle
- July ~ Larkspur & Water Lily
- August ~ Gladiolus & Poppy
- September ~ Aster & Morning Glory
- October ~ Marigold & Cosmos
- November ~ Chrysanthemum
- December ~ Narcissus & Holly
- Learn More
- Discover Your Birth Flower
- Why Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden?
- How to Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden
- My 6 Favorite Flowers in the Vegetable Garden
- What to do at the end of the garden season with flowers in the vegetable garden?
What to sow and grow in April
With sunshine and showers, April’s the time for getting your garden ready!
April kickstarts our gardens back into life, with its winning combination of sunshine and showers. On a fine day it can feel like the weather has truly turned – although Jack Frost may still pay the odd visit.
Flowers to sow and grown
Want a spectacular sunflower show this summer? Then get planting!
Image: Marie C Fields
Here are flowers to sow and grow in April
In the greenhouse / indoors
- • Sow sunflowers in pots indoors or direct sow into garden borders.
- • Sow nasturtiums in pots and modules now. Once all risk of frost has passed, plant them out into poor soil for the best flowers – richer soil will produce more foliage and less blooms!
- • Finish sowing petunia seeds under cover this month, to ensure the plants reach a good size in time for the summer.
- • Sow scabiosa seed under cover now. They’ll attract bees and butterflies to your garden and will also make great cut flowers.
- • Sow marigolds in warmth to brighten up your summer bedding.
- • Plant up summer hanging baskets with plug plants and keep them under cover in a heated greenhouse until all risk of frost has passed.
- • Finish sowing summer bedding plants such as salvia, ageratum and zinnia this month, to ensure a vibrant display this summer.
- • Continue to sow half-hardy annual seeds under cover – take care not to expose them to frost.
Direct sow outdoors
- • Direct sow wildflower seed mixtures – they’re great for bees and butterflies, and they add wonderful colour too.
- • Direct sow hardy annuals outside or in pots or trays.
- • Continue to plant herbaceous perennials.
- • Plant forced flower bulbs (such as hyacinths and daffodils) into borders, once they’ve finished flowering.
- • Plant or pot on any hardwood cuttings taken last year.
- • Add any necessary supports to plants now for them to grow up through. Adding supports later is more difficult and can damage them.
- • Plant lily bulbs in pots. Lilies grow really well in containers and you can move them around your patio or into gaps in borders as they come into flower.
Herbs & Vegetables to sow and grow
Want to grow your own salad? Start by sowing tomato seeds indoors.
Here are your herbs and vegetables to grow this month:
In the greenhouse/indoors
- • Prick out seedlings into pots or modules for growing on as soon as they have their first true leaves.
- • Start to sow tomato seeds indoors, ready to plant out after all risk of frost has passed. If you’re struggling for growing space buy ready-grown tomato plants. Take a look at our tomato selector guide for inspiration.
- • Sow aubergine seeds under glass now for growing in the greenhouse or transplanting outdoors later on.
- • Sow basil seeds in warmth to protect them from April frosts.
- • Finish sowing celery and celeriac seeds under glass.
- • Start to sow courgette, marrow, squash and pumpkin seeds under cover.
- • Sow cucumbers and gherkins towards the end of the month, sowing the seeds in individual pots or modules in the greenhouse.
- • Start kale seeds now under glass, or directly into seedbeds outdoors.
- • Try sowing lettuce in module trays under glass for transplanting in the garden later. Alternatively sow lettuce seeds outside and thin out the seedlings.
- • Sow perennial herbs – such as rosemary, sage, thyme and lemon balm – in the greenhouse.
- • Sow runner beans and French beans under cover at the end of the month, sowing individually into module trays.
- • Direct sow calendula seeds now – they are ideal for the vegetable garden, attracting insects and providing edible flowers.
- • Try growing comfrey in a neglected corner of the garden – it’s a rich source of nutrients and is great used as a fertiliser or for mulching.
- • Direct sow globe artichokes for a long-lasting addition to your vegetable plot.
- • Plant out Jerusalem artichoke tubers this month.
- • Sow beetroot seeds directly into well-prepared seedbeds.
- • Sow broad beans directly into the ground for a delicious summer crop.
- • Start sowing Brussels sprouts, calabrese and broccoli directly into seedbeds.
- • Direct sow summer and autumn cabbages, such as ‘Greyhound’, into well-prepared beds.
- • Sow cauliflower seeds outdoors towards the end of the month.
- • Sow chicory seeds directly into seedbeds now.
- • Sow herbs such as chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground or in containers indoors.
- • Direct sow carrots in rows outdoors, making sure the soil remains moist for good germination.
- • Try sowing kohlrabi outdoors for something more unusual – it will be ready in as little as 8 weeks after sowing.
- • Finish sowing leeks in their final positions outdoors.
- • Direct sow some pak choi outdoors for a taste of the orient.
- • Sow parsnip seeds outdoors now. Sow 3 or 4 seeds every 20 cm, and thin to the strongest plant.
- • Start off sweetcorn seeds in modules, for planting out after all risk of frost has passed.
- • Sow sweet-pepper seeds in the greenhouse for bountiful summer crops.
- • Sow peas directly into the ground, or start them off in modules if mice are a problem. Stagger sowings over several weeks, allowing about 20 plants per person, for a longer harvest period.
- • Sow radish seeds directly into the soil for your first salad of the season.
- • Continue to sow spinach seeds in seedbeds enriched with plenty of organic matter.
- • Sow spring-onion seeds in drills outdoors, for a quick crop to add to salads and stir fries.
- • Start to sow swede seeds outdoors in a rich fertile soil.
- • Try Swiss chard sown outdoors for a colourful crop – they even look great in flower beds!
- • Try growing your own watercress in containers on the patio, making sure the container is sitting in 2-3 inches of water at all times.
For a delicious crop, plant your chitted potatoes outside
- • Plant chitted potatoes outside in the ground or in potato grow bags. For more advice on this crop, take a look at our potato growing guide.
- • Plant out asparagus crowns in well-prepared permanent beds.
- • Plant out onion sets, shallot sets and garlic cloves for crops this summer. (Now is your last chance to order onion, shallots and garlic for spring planting.)
Fruit to sow and grow
Start your orchard by planting out pot-grown fruit trees.
Here are April’s fruits to sow and grow:
- • Sow melon seeds – they’re surprisingly easy to grow! Try sowing ‘Orange Sherbert’ in warmth, for a reliable crop that can cope with the British weather.
- • Sow strawberry seeds in the greenhouse now.
- • Plant out pot-grown fruit trees and bushes. It’s too late to plant out bare-root fruit trees for this year, but pot-grown varieties can be planted out happily.
- • Continue to plant raspberry and blackberry canes before the hotter weather arrives.
- • Plant out strawberry beds, making sure you enrich the soil first with plenty of well-rotted manure. Place cloches over your strawberry plants for earlier crops.
Keep one step ahead – what to order this month:
- • Order perennial plants such as lupin and Aquilegia.
- • Buy sweetcorn to sow in trays next month.
- • Stock up on horticultural fleece and other plant protection before you get sowing in earnest!.
Long before email, texting, instant messages or even phone calls, people used flowers to communicate. The language of flowers — also known as floriography — was popular in the 18th and 19th century. While we now have more ways to communicate, the messages told with flowers are as meaningful today as ever. Each birth month flower has a unique meaning, and is sure to make the recipient feel extra special.
|March||Daffodil||New beginnings, prosperity|
|May||Lily of the valley
|Strength of character
Unrequited love, mortality
January Birth Flowers: Carnation and Snowdrop
January’s birth flowers are the carnation and snowdrop.
It takes a distinctly strong bloom to blossom in the cold winter months. As the most popular birth flower for January, carnations are a bright spot in this gloomy month. They are one of the few flowers that can bloom in cool weather, as long as temperatures remain just above freezing.
Also known as the gillyflower, carnations symbolize admiration, love and distinction. They’re beautiful and simple blooms, which makes them charming both as a filler flower and as a colorful bouquet.
Snowdrops also bloom in the winter months, between January and March. In the wild, they typically cover large patches, blanketing the earth with swatches of white. Don’t let their droopy shape fool you — they symbolize hope and rebirth!
Learn About January Flowers Shop Carnations
February Birth Flowers: Violet and Primrose
February’s birth flowers are the violet and primrose. While many relate red roses with February thanks to Valentine’s Day on the 14th, the violet is actually the February birth flower. This purple-hued bloom is a symbol of modesty, faithfulness and virtue. In the Victorian age, a gift of violets was a declaration to always be true, and it still serves as a wonderful reminder of loyalty, thoughtfulness and dependability.
Another flower often cited as February’s birth flower is the primrose, a pale yellow perennial with European origins. They are edible flowers that can add a pop of color to your favorite treat (or birthday cupcake)! Primroses symbolize young love, so they are a great gift for a significant other.
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March Birth Flower: Daffodil
March’s birth flower is the daffodil. It’s all too appropriate that cheerful yellow flowers represent the first month of spring. These little buds of sunshine symbolize unparalleled love and serve as a reminder that the sun is always shining when loved ones are in your life. Varieties of daffodils, also known as jonquil, vary in color, featuring white, orange and pale yellow blooms.
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April Birth Flowers: Daisy and Sweet Pea
April’s birth flowers are the daisy and the sweet pea. The daisy symbolizes purity, true love and innocence. There are five common types of daisies with petals ranging in color from white to pink, around a bold yellow center. In Old English, people called daisies the “day’s eye,” since the petals closed around the yellow center at night and reopened during the day. Daisies are great flowers to show your undying love.
Sweet peas symbolize blissful pleasure. Sweet peas are known for their sweet fragrance, and are a great way to make your home smell like spring!
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May Birth Flowers: Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn
May’s birth flowers are the lily of the valley and hawthorn.
The lily of the valley, has many dainty blossoms grouped together on one stem. Lily of the valley blossoms are white and often arranged with lush greenery to contrast the wildflower-like composition. This flower signifies sweetness, humility, and motherhood. They’re an especially fitting gift for your mother on her birthday!
The hawthorn flower is unique. It’s a small white or pink flower that is typically seen blooming on a plant or bush instead of in a bouquet. However, its red berries are sometimes used as fillers in bouquets to add color and texture.
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June Birth Flowers: Rose and Honeysuckle
June’s birth flowers are the rose and honeysuckle.
As summer begins, no bloom better signifies the beauty and sweetness of the new season than the rose. Available in a rainbow of colors, there are more than 100 types of roses. The rose is a symbol of devotion and love, and the various colors of roses carry their own meanings, from passionate love (red) to friendship (yellow).
You may not be as familiar with honeysuckle because honeysuckle flowers grow on shrubs or flowering vines and are not frequently used in bouquets. Honeysuckle flowers attract butterflies, so plant one in your yard (or the yard of someone with a June birthday) if you enjoy the colorful critters!
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July Birth Flowers: Larkspur and Water Lily
The July birth flowers are the larkspur and water lily. Larkspurs come in a wide range of vibrant colors including indigo, purple and pink. Pink larkspurs symbolize fickleness, while white ones symbolize happiness. Generally, larkspurs symbolize positivity and love.
Water lilies are a unique lotus-like flower. They symbolize purity or rebirth. You can find water lilies floating atop the water from May to early September Each flower only lasts about four days until it settles under the water, which makes these flowers even more unique and beautiful.
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August Birth Flowers: Gladiolus and Poppy
The July birth flowers are the gladiolus and poppy. The gladiolus is sometimes referred to as the sword lily because of its long, skinny shape. The bold bloom can be found in an assortment of colors including red, pink, orange, yellow, purple and white and it’s a symbol of strength of character, remembrance and sincerity.
The poppy is known for its bright red color. It is worn on Armistice Day in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and France, as a symbol of remembrance for those that lost their lives in World War I. The poppy also symbolizes imagination.
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September Birth Flowers: Aster and Morning Glory
September’s birth flowers are the aster and morning glory. Also known as starworts or frost flowers, asters are a symbol of all-powerful love, affection and wisdom. Asters are available in many colors, but are most commonly found with pink, white, red, mauve or lilac blooms.
Like the aster, the morning glory also symbolizes unrequited love. They flowers petals open in the morning, hence the name morning glory, to show off their beautiful, star-like centers.
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October Birth Flowers: Marigold and Cosmos
October’s birth flowers are the marigold and cosmos. With its golden blooms that match the color of autumn leaves, it’s no wonder the marigold is fitting for this fall month. Marigolds symbolize fierce love, passion and creativity. In addition to their beauty, marigolds also have a long tradition of being used medicinally to heal inflammation and skin problems.
Cosmos flowers represent peace and tranquility. They come in bright colors like orange, pink and purple. They also attract bees, so are a great flower to grow to draw pollinators to your garden!
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November Birth Flower: Chrysanthemum
November’s birth flower is the bright and cheery chrysanthemum. Often simply referred to as mums, you can find this bloom in a wide range of sizes and colors, including the most common pink, white, yellow and red varieties. Chrysanthemums most commonly symbolize loyalty and honesty, though meanings can vary depending on the flower’s color.
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December Birth Flowers: Narcissus and Holly
December’s birth flowers are the narcissus and holly. The narcissus is symbolic of good wishes, hope and wealth. Narcissus is actually a genus of flowers, and daffodil is the common name for any of the plants that fall into this genus. Narcissus flowers are known for their trumpet-like center.
Holly is a convenient birth plant for December, since it is so popular around the holidays. It symbolizes protection and defense. Instead of a traditional bouquet, gift a wreath to help the recipient celebrate their birthday all month long!
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Do you know your birth flower? Consult this list of all the monthly birth flowers to find yours and learn the meanings behind them!
The Meaning of Flowers
Today, flowers remain a welcome substitute for words, enhancing the giver’s message with fragrance and beauty. Every flower has a meaning, and can convey certain emotions, thoughts, or moods to the recipient. Learn the Language of Flowers, and you can practically speak in code. How romantic!
Browse the links below to the individual birth month pages and be prepared to be your recipient’s new favorite person!
The Birth Month Flowers
January ~ Carnation & Snowdrop
The January birth flowers are the carnation and the snowdrop. Learn more about the January birth flowers!
February ~ Violet & Primrose
The February birth flowers are the violet and primrose. Learn more on the February birth flowers page!
March ~ Daffodil & Jonquil
The March birth flowers are the daffodil and the jonquil. Learn more on our March birth flower page!
April ~ Daisy & Sweet Pea
The April birth flowers are the daisy and the sweet pea. Learn more on our April birth flower page!
May ~ Lily of the Valley & Hawthorn
The May birth flowers are the lily of the valley and hawthorn. Learn more on our May birth flower page!
June ~ Rose & Honeysuckle
The June birth flowers are the rose and the honeysuckle. Learn more on our June birth flower page!
July ~ Larkspur & Water Lily
The July birth flowers are the larkspur (delphinium) and the water lily. Learn more on our July birth flower page!
August ~ Gladiolus & Poppy
The August birth flowers are the gladiolus and the poppy. Learn more on our August birth flower page!
September ~ Aster & Morning Glory
The September birth flowers are the aster and the morning glory. Learn more on our September birth flower page!
October ~ Marigold & Cosmos
The October birth flowers are the marigold and cosmos. Learn more on our October birth flower page!
November ~ Chrysanthemum
The November birth flower is the chrysanthemum. Learn more on our November birth flower page!
December ~ Narcissus & Holly
The December birth flowers are the narcissus (paperwhite) and the holly. Learn more on our December birth flower page!
To learn more about flowers and their meanings, see our page on the Language of Flowers!
Did you know that birthstones also have special meanings? Visit our Birthstones by Month page to see each month’s birthstone.
Do you think the flower for your birth month fits? Let us know in the comments!
Discover Your Birth Flower
Did you know that every month has a birth flower and that, just like birthstones, each one has its own special meaning? Here’s our guide to the different birth flowers by month and their symbolism. It comes in really handy when choosing perfect birthday flowers to send to this special someone. Make sure you opt for a bouquet featuring their birth flower!
Loved for its ruffled petals, wide array of colours and long vase life, the carnation is the birth flower for January. It’s an incredibly fitting choice too, as carnations are one of the few flowers that can thrive in cold weather.
Despite being seen, somewhat undeservedly, as a filler flower in modern times, the carnation had grandiose beginnings. Indeed its scientific name, Dianthus, means ‘flower of the gods’ in Greek and its common name is believed to be derived from the word ‘coronation’.
With a history dating back thousands of years, January’s birth flower is steeped in religious symbolism too. In Christianity it is believed that the first carnation bloomed when Mary’s tears hit the earth as she wept for her son Jesus. It’s no surprise then that today the flower has become a universal symbol of motherly love, making it a popular choice for both Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day.
The meaning of carnations varies from colour to colour, but is generally accepted as ‘devotion’. Because of this it is said those born in January make loyal and dependable friends.
With Valentine’s Day celebrated on the 14th, you could be forgiven for assuming that February’s birth flower is the rose. While it might seem like the obvious choice, the birth flower for February is in fact the violet. These vividly-coloured flowers have been around for centuries, with the ancient Greeks first cultivating them for use in herbal remedies and to sweeten wine. The flower has distinctive heart-shaped petals which is perhaps why they were once used in love potions.
Violets are said to represent faithfulness, virtue and modesty, which explains where the expression ‘shrinking violet’ comes from. Because of this, those born in February are said to possess the qualities of humility and honesty.
No flower embodies spring quite like the daffodil, so it’s quite appropriate that March’s birth flower is the narcissus. These cheerful yellow flowers are named after the character in Greek mythology who was so in love with himself he drowned in a pool of water whilst admiring his own reflection.
Narcissi aren’t just a symbol of vanity though, they are said to symbolise new beginnings, rebirth and rejuvenation. They also represent faithfulness due to their ability to bloom year after year.
For different cultures around the world daffodils represent different things. In China they are seen as a sign of good luck and prosperity because they bloom around the time of Chinese New Year. In Wales they are celebrated as the national flower. The daffodil is also a symbol for the cancer care charity Marie Curie.
April’s birth flower is the daisy. This humble flower carries associations of purity, innocence and loyal love (remember the popular childhood saying ‘he loves me, he loves me not’?) It is also said to represent fertility and motherhood – the reason why it is commonly gifted to new mothers.
The name daisy is derived from ‘day’s eye’ and is so called because the flower closes at night and opens in the morning when the sun rises. This is also where the phrase ‘fresh as a daisy’ comes from.
While daisies are more popular in flower chains than vases, a bouquet of colourful gerbera daisies makes a wonderful surprise for someone with an April birthday.
Those lucky enough to have been born in May can claim the exquisite Lily of the Valley as their birth flower.
A favourite of royal brides, this elegant flower has dainty bell-like flowers and a beautiful sweet fragrance. The fact that they only bloom for a short season (typically from March to May) adds to their exclusivity and appeal.
May’s birth flower is said to represent purity, humility and sweetness. According to the Victorian language of flowers, Lily of the Valley also symbolises a ‘return to happiness’.
June birthdays belong to one of the most popular flowers of all time – the rose.
Roses have been cherished for their classic beauty and fine fragrance for centuries. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified roses with love and passion beginning with their association with the goddesses Aphrodite, Isis and Venus.
The meaning of the rose depends on its colour, though generally roses are said to represent love, beauty and honour. You can also use roses to communicate different feelings depending on the number you choose to give. A single red rose for example means new love or love at first sight whereas a dozen red roses carries the message of ‘I love you’.
With their symbolic associations of positivity and dignity delphiniums are a generous tribute to loved ones with a July birthday. This cottage garden classic is a quintessentially British summer bloom and one of the few true blue flowers.
Like the rose, the delphinium is another flower that’s meaning varies from colour to colour. In general though it is said to signify an open heart, a trait said to be shared with those who celebrate a July birthday.
The August birth flower is the gladiolus. This striking bloom is characterised by pointed tips and dramatic stalks of flowers. It’s an incredibly popular late-summer flower and is available in a wide range of colours.
August’s birth flower gets its name from the Latin ‘gladius’, meaning ‘sword’, which is why you may have heard it called ‘sword-lily’. The name in fact is a reference to the sword-swinging gladiators of ancient Rome. Back then, when gladiators literally fought to the death in the arena, the victor was showered in gladioli. It is for this reason that gladioli are said to embody strength, generosity and moral integrity.
A bouquet of gorgeous gladioli makes a wonderful tribute to a loved one celebrating a high-summer birthday.
September’s birth flower is the aster which is said to represent both love and daintiness. The flowers are also associated with wisdom, valour and faith, making them a great choice for dear friends and family members.
Reminiscent of a daisy, the aster is named after the Greek word for ‘star’ and, if you look at the shape of the flower, it’s clear to see why.
These delightful flowers bloom all year round and are one of the most vibrant in the autumn months, making them the perfect choice for a September birthday.
The marigold is the birth flower for October.
With their golden blooms and spicy scent, marigolds are a favourite with many keen gardeners. As one of autumn’s hardiest flowers, the marigold is said to represent a stubborn determination to succeed.
If your birthday is in October, you’re probably driven, passionate and creative – just like your birth flower.
A November birthday just begs to be celebrated with a bouquet of chrysanthemums – this month’s birth flower.
First cultivated in China in the 15th century BC, the chrysanthemum has a long and fascinating history. Today it is one of the world’s most popular cut-flowers, owing to its variety and versatility.
Chrysanthemums come in a whole host of different colours, each one with their own symbolic meaning. Typically though, November’s birth flower represents friendship and well-wishing. Chrysanthemums are also thought to bring good luck and joy into the home.
In Japan, the flower is so revered it has a special day dedicated to its honour. Chrysanthemum Day, also known as the Festival of Happiness, is celebrated on 9th September annually.
A real symbol of the season, it’s no surprise that the holly is the birth flower for December. Though technically a foliage and not a flower, the glossy green leaves and bright red berries of the holly are synonymous with Christmas spirit and so an apt choice for celebrating a December birthday.
In terms of symbolism, the holly has always had powerful connotations. In Pagan times it was seen as not only a symbol of fertility but as an effective charm to ward off witches and ill fortune. For Christians the thorny foliage and blood-red berries make the holly a symbol of the suffering of Jesus Christ.
If you’d like to add a personal touch to your flowers you can write a birthday message. Have a look at our guide to the best and most original birthday messages and quotes.
Flowers in the vegetable garden can reduce pest problems and improve biodiversity. Here are six of my favorite flowers to grow for healthy garden crops.
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I love pollinators and pretty flowers, too, so many years ago I started growing flowers in all of my vegetable beds. I liked the way it looked, and I felt happy growing food for me and food for the bees and butterflies.
However, I didn’t anticipate the power of bringing habitat for beneficial insects right into the places where I needed them.
Ladybugs were devouring aphids on the calendula, while the kale and broccoli nearby were pest-free. Beneficial braconid wasps covered the sweet alyssum and patrolled nearby crop plants. I was instantly hooked on this practice of integration!
Why Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden?
Many experts encourage gardeners to plant a border of flowers around the perimeter of the garden. I do this, but I also encourage you to plant the following flowers among the crops. This can attract beneficial insects directly to where they’re needed.
That’s because in the permaculture garden, this practice integrates different aspects of the garden to make the overall ecosystem more biodiverse, efficient, and low maintenance.
Learn about bumble bees and several facts about their life cycle that you didn’t know!
This integration increases the chance that beneficial insects will locate pests on your crops and keep things in balance.
Read more about permaculture design.
Further, it’s not only the above-ground pests that flowers can help with. Flowers also help to maintain a healthy garden ecology by holding the soil in place (less erosion) and by feeding the beneficial soil organisms when their roots die back.
See: How to Prevent Soil Erosion in Gardens and On Farms
How to Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden
I use annual flowers in the vegetable garden. Although many annuals self-sow in following years, each year they can be sown anew within the garden wherever it makes the most sense for that particular year’s arrangement of crops.
Rows of flowers can be alternated with rows of vegetables, or every couple of rows. Sprinkle flower seeds in the spring when the rest of the garden is being planted. Flowers used in this way are considered a living mulch.
Read more about using living mulches in the permaculture garden.
How you alternate your flowers and vegetables depends on many things such as the size of the bed, crop selection, and the types of flowers you choose. The height of the crops and the flowers, as well as sun exposure all play a part.
In a 3-foot-wide garden bed, there are typically three rows of crops. Here are some examples for a bed with the long side facing south (northern hemisphere):
Example 1: Tomatoes are grown as the tallest crop in a bed. To do this, plant tomatoes along the north side of the bed, with medium-height flowers in the middle, and a shorter crop, like carrots, in the southern-most row.
Example 2: Lettuce is the primary crop of a bed. Plant lettuce in the middle row, with shorter flowers in the southern-most row, and a taller or similarly sized crop behind it on the north side, such as radishes. Or plant taller flowers behind it on the north side, with a similarly sized crop in front of it on the south side, such as onions.
Would you like to learn more about using flowers in the vegetable garden to improve biodiversity, reduce maintenance, and increase yield?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my award-winning book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
My 6 Favorite Flowers in the Vegetable Garden
Although there are quite a few flowers that can benefit the vegetable garden, the following are my favorites because they are annuals, which means that I can rearrange them every year to correspond with the crops I intend to grow.
All of these flowers work well in the edible landscape, too. Get more edible landscaping tips here!
The following selections are also especially good at:
- attracting beneficial insects
- holding the soil in place
They are edible and aren’t too tall.
I reserve tall flowers and perennial flowers for the outskirts of the garden, which I do not cover in this article. See: How to Grow Perennial Sunflowers.
Wanna know what weeds I let grow in my garden? See my article 5 Weeds You Want in your Garden.
Calendula flowers are growing with peppers, chard, and other garden crops.
1. Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
Calendula might just be my favorite annual flower to grow in the vegetable garden, but don’t tell the other flowers!
This annual herb with a cheerful, yellow, daisy-like flower can grow 18-24 inches tall. It exudes a sticky sap that traps pests like aphids and whiteflies, and keeps them off of nearby crops.
It attracts many types of pollinators and beneficial insects like ladybugs, hoverflies, and green lacewings who enjoy not only the flower nectar, but also the buffet of their favorite pests.
Calendula can even be grown like a cover crop over the winter to hold the soil in place.
For more information about calendula, see my article 7 Reasons to Grow Calendula or buy calendula seeds.
California poppies in the garden.
2. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
I recently planted perennial flowers in the front yard flower garden that were going to take a year to establish and develop flowers. In the interim, I sowed California poppy in the empty spaces of the bed because it is quick to bloom.
I was fascinated by the deep roots of this plant that mine the clay soil and soften it, as well as the bright yellow flowers that tell you when it’s going to rain by closing up. (They also close up at night).
The lacy foliage is a favorite of beneficial insects.
For all of these reasons, I started sowing it in my vegetable garden and enjoyed the beauty and healthy vegetable harvests.
It will grow to about 12 inches.
Buy California poppy seeds.
Chamomile growing in the vegetable garden.
Photo by Dana via Flickr
3. German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla or Matricaria recutita)
These cute-as-a-button dainty flowers with their lacy foliage attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
Growing to about 12 inches, chamomile is a prairie plant that has deep roots which dredge up nutrients. When the season is finished, cut the plant back to allow the nutrient-rich plant matter to fertilize the soil.
Buy Chamomile seeds.
Flowering cilantro growing in the strawberry bed.
4. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
It seems everyone has a strong opinion about the taste of this herb—either you love it or hate it.
Whether or not you enjoy eating cilantro, it can still be a useful herb in the garden. That’s because its strong scent will actually repel pests.
As a member of the carrot family, its roots reach deep into the soil, loosening as it goes (nature’s free tilling service!). Read more about the no-till garden here. Also as a member of the carrot family, the flower and lacy foliage attract a wide number of beneficial insects.
Cilantro/Coriander will grow to two feet tall. Although this is at the tall end of flowers for the vegetable garden, I find that its upright growth habit allows sunlight to get through to shorter crops around it.
Buy cilantro seeds.
Yellow nasturtiums growing with trellised sweet potatoes.
5. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Nasturtium is an annual herb that has peppery leaves and flowers. Giving off a strong scent, it repels pests.
Its dense, low growing habit (12-18 inches) makes it an excellent living mulch as it covers the soil underneath taller crops, and feeds the soil as it dies back.
The showy flowers and foliage are a favorite in the edible landscape.
Buy nasturtium seeds.
Sweet alyssum growing with Swiss chard.
6. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Sweet alyssum is a low-growing plant that is popularly grown in landscape borders. It has a pleasant scent.
Although there are many colors to choose from, the white flowers attract the most beneficial insects. I have never seen so many hoverflies as when I’ve planted sweet alyssum in the garden!
It is effective as a living mulch because its shallow roots hold the soil in place.
My favorite way to grow it is in the edible landscape with Swiss chard. Find out more about this winning edible landscape combination!
Buy sweet alyssum seeds.
What to do at the end of the garden season with flowers in the vegetable garden?
Using flowers in the vegetable garden is a really great idea, but you might be wondering how to clean up your garden beds at the end of the season.
For one thing, you can improve the ecology of your garden by leaving the roots of the flower plants intact. Cut them off at the base, rather than pulling up the spent plants, when you’re cleaning up at the end of the season.
The plant matter can be chopped and dropped in place to act as a mulch. Roots left intact will decay and feed the soil life, becoming rich soil. For more soil improvement ideas, see these articles:
- 7 Ways to Improve Soil Quality
- 9 Organic Amendments that Improve Soil Structure and Texture
The Following Spring
The following spring, these old roots may still be present when you’re ready to plant.
No worries, simply adjust your planting a little to the left or right to avoid the root. Your row might not be the straightest line, but the plants sown directly next to the old root will reap the benefits of the biological activity and richness of the decaying root.
- How to Develop the Permaculture Homestead in Phases
- 5 Reasons to Grow Chives
- Does Your Permaculture Garden Need Daffodils?
Do you grow flowers in the vegetable garden? What are your favorites?