How To Multitask In The Garden: Mixing Up Ornamentals and Edibles

Last Updated on March 13, 2022 by Kravelv

Everyone is busy in our wired world. Time is precious and the more that can be saved the better.

There is a huge range of tools to help you with every aspect of gardening. Whether it’s a log splitter or a pole saw, a simple axe or some shears, saving time and labor gets easier as technology advances.

Home improvement comes in many guises and enhancing your garden is equally important as working on the interior of your house.

We’ll look today at how you can enjoy the best of both worlds by mixing up ornamentals and edibles.

If you don’t have room for a rolling garden filled with trees, plants in containers maximize space efficiently. Combining different varieties gives you even more bang for your buck.

Are You Sure It’s OK To Mix These Plants?

It certainly is! Many edible plants that grow well in containers do have a certain aesthetic appeal anyway.

If you are looking for something even easier on the eye, though, adding some pure ornamentals is a wonderful way to achieve this goal.

There is also an inbuilt bonus with this approach: your vegetables will be far tougher for the inevitable pests to detect. Hide them among some annuals or herbaceous perennials and strike back at these menaces.


It’s All About Balance

If you’re looking for the secret of success, it’s all about striking the right balance.

You want to get an interesting and colorful display while at the same time producing a worthwhile crop.

The key with ornamentals is to use them sparingly. The purpose, of course, is to enhance the edibles rather than overpower or detract from them.

If you have some slow-maturing edibles, avoid adding any vigorous ornamentals. They will compete for water, light and nutrients. The result will be a poor (or even non-existent) yield. Your core aim is to yield a worthwhile crop so make sure you do not undo this by taking the wrong approach.

3 Fantastic Combinations

  • Trailing half-hardy perennials make superb partners for your edibles. They will droop nicely over the sides of the container and work brilliantly with fruiting or edible-leaved plants. These are generally rather more upright
  • If you are growing fruit trees in tubs, consider sowing some hardy annuals at the base. Dwarf cornflowers – Centaurea cyanus cultivars – are a smart option. Since these hardy annuals are normally shallow-rooted, you can directly sow them where they are to flower. This means you won’t need planting holes that could damage the tree roots. Beyond this, there should be no real competition for food and water
  • Annual climbing plants can be teamed perfectly with climbing fruits and vegetables. One great option is to use morning glory alongside the edibles. They can scramble up alongside runner beans and gourds. Boost the visual impact of your container the right way

A Final Bonus

By planting flowering annuals and perennials among your crops, you will also attract a good number of pollinating insects. These insects are absolutely key for fruiting plants.

You will also be able to coax in the natural predators of aphids or other common garden pests.

Some plants themselves can play a role in deterring the insects that you do not want. The most obvious example is to plant French marigolds near your tomatoes. They repel whitefly.

Many organic farmers operate this companion planting approach as a natural form of pest control.


A Warning!

We all know that parts of some otherwise edible plants can be poisonous.

Take great care, though, never to use poisonous plants as companions for edible ones. Learn here about some of these toxic plants and some others that do not work well with edibles.


If you take some basic, sensible precautions to avoid any unintended slip-ups, mixing up your edibles and ornamentals is a wonderful way to add further color and texture to your garden.

Home improvements are all about small tweaks as well as larger-scale changes so think about doubling up on your containers for a striking effect.


Author Bio:

My name is Dianne and I am passionate about all things related to gardening. I blog about indoor and outdoor planting as well as offering useful information about the best gardening products. You can visit my site here…


Kravelv is a full time digital marketer and part time furniture and cabinet maker. During his free time he would like to create something out of recycled woods, this varies from toys, furnitures plant boxes etc. Follow him on Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook