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Which of these useful flowers should I grow?

 
Posts: 14
Location: British Columbia zone 9a
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I already grow many species of flowers and I like to try a couple more each year... but I do have to be realistic and limit them to the most useful.

These are qualities I value in my "flowering plants". I would say they have to tick at least a few of these boxes in order to make the cut.

- attractive to pollinators and beneficial insects
- portions are edible for me and/or for my pet rabbit
- relatively easy to grow from seed
- beautiful in the garden, or scented
- can be used for cut fresh or dried flowers/bouquet filler
- perennial
- provide biomass for compost

I'm growing all the obvious plants (think borage, nasturtium, comfrey, calendula etc) and I'm now branching out into ones I'm less familiar with. These are a few I've been considering:

Tithonia rotundiflora (Mexican sunflower)
Bupleurum rotundifolium
Helianthus maximiliani (Maximillian sunflower)
Nigella sativa (Black cumin)
Pycnanthemum pilosum or virginianum (Mountain mint)
Eriophyllum lanatum (Woolly sunflower)
Papaver spp. (Poppy)
Achillea spp. (any other than millefolium which I already have, such as ptarmica or siberica)

Does anyone have experience with these plants, especially in the Pacific northwest, and do you consider any of them to be a "must grow"?
Do you know of any other less-common multipurpose beneficial plants that can be started from seed?
 
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The Maximillian Sunflowers grow as a weed where I am (slightly south of their Great Plains native range) reaching heights of 10-12 feet with stems that are wrist-thick at the ground.  I would not plant them (they take up a lot of space for the value they provide) but I can't help letting a few go crazy every year in places I'm not using.  The flowers attract large butterflies that I never see anywhere else in my yard and when the seeds come in, a particular species of bright-yellow songbird that only comes to my yard for this and that I haven't identified (bird markings are hard for me because I have color vision issues and "lots of yellow" isn't specific enough).

 
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I don't know anything about the flowers you have posted about.  I wanted to add a couple to consider.  I grow lots of flowers in my veggie garden, and everywhere else for that matter.  Everything that is planted in my veggie garden must be eatable.  Ever since my kids were little they were allowed to eat anything they want out of my veggie garden.  Even today as adults it isn't unusual to see one of my kids grazing on what ever is ripe in the garden.  So I make sure even the flowers are eatable.  It makes for a lovely garden, and helps by adding diversity, and attracting lots of pollinators.  Nasturtium aren't perennials, but once they are established they easily reseed themselves. I have a bunch going on 3 years now.  They add color and a nice taste to a salad.  Calendula or pot marigold is a super flower to grow.  It is considered to be a perennial in some climates, but an annual in others.  It is both eatable and used as an herb.  Marigolds are annuals, but super easy to grow,  they also help control pests in your garden.  Zinnia's are another annual that is super easy to grow and eatable.  Cornflower/Bachelor buttons are actually good for rabbits digestion.  They are also eatable by people, but don't taste that good.  Lets not leave out lavender.  This is an easy perennial, that is eatable, and has a lot of other great uses.  I double checked and all the flowers I mentioned are safe for you rabbit to eat. Good luck and happy gardening.
 
Krystal Comerford
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:I don't know anything about the flowers you have posted about.  I wanted to add a couple to consider.  I grow lots of flowers in my veggie garden, and everywhere else for that matter.  Everything that is planted in my veggie garden must be eatable.  Ever since my kids were little they were allowed to eat anything they want out of my veggie garden.  Even today as adults it isn't unusual to see one of my kids grazing on what ever is ripe in the garden.  So I make sure even the flowers are eatable.  It makes for a lovely garden, and helps by adding diversity, and attracting lots of pollinators.  Nasturtium aren't perennials, but once they are established they easily reseed themselves. I have a bunch going on 3 years now.  They add color and a nice taste to a salad.  Calendula or pot marigold is a super flower to grow.  It is considered to be a perennial in some climates, but an annual in others.  It is both eatable and used as an herb.  Marigolds are annuals, but super easy to grow,  they also help control pests in your garden.  Zinnia's are another annual that is super easy to grow and eatable.  Cornflower/Bachelor buttons are actually good for rabbits digestion.  They are also eatable by people, but don't taste that good.  Lets not leave out lavender.  This is an easy perennial, that is eatable, and has a lot of other great uses.  I double checked and all the flowers I mentioned are safe for you rabbit to eat. Good luck and happy gardening.



Thank you, I already grow those plants, but I didn't know Bachelors buttons are good for rabbits digestion, or that Zinnias are safe to eat!

Another plant I should add to the list is Scabiosa. They are supposed to be easy from seed, perennial, drought tolerant, loved by pollinators, and good cut flowers.
 
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according to something I read black cumin has been used for centuries to treat all types of ailments. and used in the kitchen it has a bit of a different flavor than regular light or brown cumin.
sounds like a winner to me.
 
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Growing up, my mom had poppies seeding all over. It probably helped that I loved to pretend that they were pepper shakers and would shake the seeds all over place. I grew poppies last year, and they seeded and grew well for me. The ones I planted under trees a few years ago didn't sprout, but maybe the ducks disturbed the seeds, or it wasn't sunny enough, or something.

I see lots of people in my area with lovely sunflowers. I've managed to get them to grow, but they never matured enough to form good seeds (probably because my property doesn't get much sun in most place). Mine also liked to fall over.
 
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Phacelia does well where i am. It's beautiful, early and late bloomer, self seeding, good for compost( i use it as mulch in my veggie beds if it is robbing light of a vegetable, i don't think it's edible for you or your rabbit though, but pollinators love it!
Asters are perennial flowers, late bloomers, bees love it to get that autumn boost in the hive.
Hyssops is a great herb for lungs , easy from seed if you get the right one, beautiful, flowers all summer, attracts loads of insects and is perennial.
Lavender?
Agastaches, leaks, echinacea,cosmos, fennel, pulmanoria,marjoram,sage and thyme might be interesting to tick some boxes.
I got it from a book gardening for wildlife.
 
pollinator
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Nigella, and any kind of poppy or yarrow are all excellent choices and grow for me without any fuss on the Gulf Islands, BC. You mentioned Papaver poppies but California poppies are also excellent. I don't have any experience with any of the others you specifically asked about in your original post.

Phacelia is a fabulous bee plant and also grows very well here. I am not aware of any edible uses unfortunately.

Also what about chives and lemon balm? Beebalm aka bergamot and violets might be good if you have shady spots for them.
 
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I’ve been really enjoying Skirret. Takes a couple years to size up from seed, but is delicious l, perennial and visited by dozens of species over its long bloom period. Been growing it in the Gulf Islands of BC for a few years now.
 
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Musk mallow Malva moschata.  It arrived by itself on my allotment and I find it a very useful mild-tasting filler in salads with a long growing season.  Flowers are also edible and attractive to pollinators.  It seeds itself willingly but is also easy to remove should it spring up somewhere you don't want it.
 
pollinator
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Roses.  Rose petals, rose hips.  I only plant own root roses because my area of the a pacific NW is zone 3.  My must have.

Comfrey.  Comfrey tea.  The bees love love love it. Yes invasive but I use it as mulch also.

Jeruselum Artichokes.  A bit invasive but I like that.  

Feverfew.  

Echinacea.

Where do we stop?





 
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Tithonia rotundiflora (Mexican sunflower)

I love these annuals and so do the butterfly.  Our seeds were free from one of the Monarch promoting associations.

My flowers were orange but reseed to yellow and something liked to eat it.  Nothing bothered the orange ones.

The first year our plant were in pots near our vegetable garden. The second year I used seeds from the first flowers.
 
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One of my co-vendors at the local farmers market gave me a couple of mountain mint plants. The bees love them! They will squeeze as many of themselves onto the flowers as they can manage, their weight sometimes causing the stalk to bend over a bit. I also make delicious teas from the leaves. They come back year after year and need no care at all. They also have not spread so seem not invasive like peppermint can be.
 
Krystal Comerford
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I mean this in the best way but you guys are not making this any easier!

To make it worse I am now also thinking about Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled Cress which can be used as a salad green and then as a fresh or dried bouquet filler once it bolts.

Also just wanted to add for anyone else obsessed with multipurpose flowers, my new favourite that I had discovered last year is the Ruby buckwheat available from Baker Creek. I grow it as a cover crop, as forage for my bunny and it also makes a killer cut flower! Of course, if you let it go to maturity, you can also eat it as a grain.
 
Andrea Locke
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Krystal Comerford wrote:I mean this in the best way but you guys are not making this any easier!

To make it worse I am now also thinking about Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled Cress which can be used as a salad green and then as a fresh or dried bouquet filler once it bolts.

Also just wanted to add for anyone else obsessed with multipurpose flowers, my new favourite that I had discovered last year is the Ruby buckwheat available from Baker Creek. I grow it as a cover crop, as forage for my bunny and it also makes a killer cut flower! Of course, if you let it go to maturity, you can also eat it as a grain.




Oh, Krystal, now you've made me want Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled Cress (because of the name!) and that multi-use Ruby Buckwheat!!
 
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my rabbits really enjoy sunflowers, of all types. They also enjoy eating nasturtium, which I didn't expect.
I also suggest zinnias. They grow, in my yard they self-seed, the more you cut them the more they come back, and the rabbits eat them too.
Mountain mint I seem to recall reading is a natural mosquito repellant, and the rabbits here love eating all kinds of mint.
And nigella, if you like to bake, is a great seed. I mostly use it on pita bread or Turkish bread, but it's used in Indian food as well. Like caraway but... brighter. I haven't grown it but I imagine it's like coriander and the rabbits seem to think that's crack.
 
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Are you actually in the pacific NW, or just currently interested in plants from that region?

Anyway, only other good one I can think of from Ohio is Indian Potato (Apios Americana), though I don't know how it'll do in your area. People have been trying to domesticate it properly for years without much success. With the Bergamot, go Scarlet Bergamot. It's semi-domesticated & I saw seeds being sold from Outsidepride in Oregon, though don't know if that means it grows there too, or naturalized, or just used as a common ornamental. Oregon Grape & Camas are good edibles from that region too.

Overall, I'm not all that familiar beyond the Great Lakes Region, so I'd research more on the matter.
 
Krystal Comerford
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D Tucholske wrote:Are you actually in the pacific NW, or just currently interested in plants from that region?

Anyway, only other good one I can think of from Ohio is Indian Potato (Apios Americana), though I don't know how it'll do in your area. People have been trying to domesticate it properly for years without much success. With the Bergamot, go Scarlet Bergamot. It's semi-domesticated & I saw seeds being sold from Outsidepride in Oregon, though don't know if that means it grows there too, or naturalized, or just used as a common ornamental. Oregon Grape & Camas are good edibles from that region too.

Overall, I'm not all that familiar beyond the Great Lakes Region, so I'd research more on the matter.



I do live in the pacific northwest. Things that need a ton of heat to thrive can be a bit lackluster. On the other hand, we rarely go more than a couple degrees below freezing. My particular region has been described as a temperate mediterranean climate. We get lots of rain in the winter and little to none in the summer.

For some reason I've had poor luck with Monarda in the past but I should give it another go. I live near a community garden and they had a gorgeous specimen there last summer.

I definitely wish I was growing more edible native plants!
 
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Alyssum is a fun flower to grow and does great in veggie gardens as it stays low and blooms forever (at least all through from early summer through fall). Very fragrant which helps confuse some pests and attract beneficials as well!

I believe it’s part of the brassica family, so do what you will with that information.
 
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