Plant Flowering Herbs to Boost Garden Biodiversity and Beauty

Consider culinary and medicinal herbs that are practical, beneficial, and beautiful too.

Landing On The Lavender
Herbs like lavender and rosemary are attractive to both people and pollinators. Christine Rose Photography / Getty Images

If you are trying to decide what to sow and grow in your garden this spring, consider flowering herbs. They introduce greater biodiversity to your space and look wonderful too. 

Flowering herbs often have edible or medicinal uses. While in active growth, they also offer other benefits: They can be excellent companion plants for common crops, fruit trees, etc. and they can help in repelling pest species, bringing in pollinators and predatory insects to keep pest numbers down.

No matter where you live, there is a wide variety to choose from. To help you get started and make your selections, here are some varieties to consider:

Flowering Culinary Herbs

Most of these options also have a range of medicinal uses but are also commonly used as pot herbs, for teas, or for other edible applications. Here are some of my top picks, which all have beautiful flowers as well as bringing a wide range of other benefits to your garden:

  • Angelica – USDA zones 4-8, moist and shaded location.
  • Agastache – USDA zones 4-9, well-drained, sunny site.
  • Bee Balm – USDA zones 4-10, moist soils, full sun or partial/dappled shade.
  • Borage – USDA zones 6-9, dry or moist, sun or dappled/light shade.
  • Catmint – USDA zones 3-7, well-drained, full sun.
  • Chamomile – USDA zones 4-8, dry or moist, can tolerate drought, full sun, or light shade.
  • Chives – USDA zones 5-11, prefers moist soil, light shade or no shade.
  • Dill – USDA zones 2-11, ideally moist soil, full sun.
  • Hyssop – USDA zones 5-10, can cope with dry soil, full sun.
  • Mints – USDA zones 3-10 (depends on variety), moist soils, dappled/light shade.
  • Marjoram – USDA zones 6-9, free-draining conditions, full sun/ light shade.
  • Oregano – USDA zones 4-10, free-draining conditions, full sun/ light shade.
  • Rosemary – USDA zones 6-11, deep and free-draining soil, full sun.
  • Sage and Salvias – USDA zones 5-10, free-draining, full sun.
  • Thymes – USDA zones 5-11, free-draining, full sun.
Thymus serpyllum and Butterflies
Butterflies enjoying creeping thyme. Federica Grassi / Getty Images

Flowering Medicinal Herbs

While they may also have minor culinary uses, these flowering herbs are usually grown for their medicinal uses as well as for their visual appeal:

  • Calendula – USDA zones 2-11, moist soil in full sun or light shade. 
  • California poppy – USDA zones 6-11, well-drained soil, full sun. 
  • Comfrey – USDA zones 3-9, moist soil, light/dappled shade, or full sun.
  • Germander – USDA zones 5-9, moist but free-draining, light shade or full sun.
  • Lavender – USDA zones 5-8, free-draining conditions in full sun. 
  • Echinacea – USDA zones 3-10, free-draining soil, full sun.
  • Feverfew – USDA zones 5-8, free-draining yet moist, full sun. 
  • Goldenseal – USDA zones 3-7, moist soil, deep or light/dappled shade. 
  • Holy basil – USDA zones 10-12, moist soil, full sun.
  • Marigolds – USDA zones 2-11, moist yet free-draining conditions, full sun. 
  • Milk thistle – USDA zones 6-9, moist yet free-draining conditions, full sun. 
  • St John's Wort – USDA zones 3-7, moist soil, light shade, or sunny conditions.
  • Valerian – USDA zones 4-8, moist soil, full sun. 
  • Verbena/ Vervain – USDA zones 4-8, moist soil, sunny conditions. 
  • Yarrow – USDA zones 4-8, moist yet free-draining spots, full sun or light/dappled shade.

This is by no means a complete list of the flowering herbs that you could grow — there are many, many more to consider. When seeking out beautiful flowering herbs to grow, it is important to look for plants native to your area. But the brief lists above are a good place to begin. 

wildflower; spice, plant, aromatic plants; herbal
An herb spiral can create beneficial microclimates. emer1940 / Getty Images

Whichever flowering herbs you choose, another consideration is where exactly to place them within your garden. You need to think about the requirements and preferences of the particular herbs in question.

Growing flowering herbs in integrated ways allow them to bring their benefits to the wider ecosystem. A herb spiral can be a good idea because it allows you to create a range of habitats to accommodate a range of different herbs. Rather than simply planting flowering herbs in a dedicated herb garden, you can sow them as companion plants in a vegetable garden, mixed perennial beds or edible borders, fruit tree guilds, or forest gardens. 

Remember: A successful garden should be both useful and beautiful, with as many different plants and as much wildlife diversity as possible.