This post is about the best edible flowers to grow in your garden, in pots, raised beds, or even indoors. Edible flowers look pretty in your vegetable garden and can bring a cottage garden or potager look that is very popular, while making your salads pretty at the same time. Edible flowers can also attract beneficial insects and pollinators to help your food plants set fruit.
Edible flowers in the kitchen can be used as colourful garnishes, made into teas or tinctures and of course, look great in a summer or winter salad.
Edible flowers can be typical ornamental flowers like nasturtiums or rose petals, others can be the flowers of common garden vegetables like chives or zucchini, often serves stuffed and deep fried.
Banana flowers are edible and are common in salads in Asia, and of course, artichokes are flowers we commonly eat.
This post covers a good selection of edible flowers to grow, enhance your garden, and to eat.
Is it Safe To Eat Edible Flowers?
It is not safe to consume flowers sold from a florist or supermarket bouquet, and you should not pick flowers to eat in parks or by the roadside, These will have been sprayed with numerous chemicals and may harbour effluent.
Only consume your own edible flowers, that you know are free from pesticides and weedkillers, or buy organic edible flowers sold for human consumption. Never eat a flower that you don’t know to be safe to eat, some types of flowers are toxic. Also some people can have allergies to edible flowers, just be careful.
Dandelions are Edible Flowers
Dandelions are edible flowers (source.) Long considered a weed, dandelion leaves and flowers are surging in popularity, I’ve even seen them sold in nurseries lately!
Pansies Have Edible Flowers
Pansies, and violas, are both common edible flowers, pansies being a winter edible flower that does better in the cooler months.
Nasturtiums Have Edible Flowers
Nasturtiums are good edible flowers to grow because the leaves and flowers are edible.
The leaves are very peppery in flavour, adding zing to a salad, the flowers are sweeter. The nectar is also sweet and the flower pods can be pickled like capers.
Nasturtiums come in many colours, through red, orange, cream and peach and can grow to huge sizes giving you an abundance of edible leaves and flowers.
Calendula Has Edible Flowers
Calendula has edible red flowers, orange or yellow and they are slightly sweet to eat. The petals can be used dried or fresh. With calendula, it is only the petals that are used in food usually.
Medicinal or cosmetic calendula preparations are normally made from Calendula officinalis, the orange flowered pot marigold, but there are only about 15-20 species of the genus Calendula, source.
Be certain to check that your particular species of calendula is edible before eating it.
Marigold Flowers Are Edible
Some varieties of marigold are edible. Marigolds (Tagetes) are my favourite edible flower and can come in bronze, yellow and the typical orange edible flowers. Marigolds are in the same family as calendula, the daisy family, and are really easy to propagate and save seeds from.
The best edible marigolds must be Tagetes. tenuifolia Lemon and ‘Tangerine Gem because the petals have a good flavour without the bitterness of other varieties, They have a citrus flavour with a hint of anise, making them good with fish.
Marigold petals have a sweet and slightly citrusy taste and can be used raw or blanched in sweet and savoury dishes.
Here’s a recipe using dried marigold petals in a savoury pasta dish there are also recipes using marigolds in pickles and butter.
Carnations Have Edible Flowers
Carnations are often sold in bunches and bouquets as cut flowers, do not eat flowers sold for decoration, only your own organic flowers that you know to be safe to eat. Carnations come with red, pink or white edible flowers and petals. It is only the petals of carnations that are edible.
One popular and worthwhile use of carnations is to steep the petals in sugar syrup to make a flavouring for drinks, which is delicious added to white wine for an extra edge of summer interest.
Violas Are Edible Flowers
Violas are edible flowers in the violet family Violaceae These pretty small flowers come in fabulous colours including blues and purples, so if you’re looking for blue edible petals for a special cake, grow violas or pansies. There are 5-600 species of viola, so be certain to grow an edible variety.
There are quite a few violas commonly known as violets, be careful with plants known as violets, that actually are not edible violets.
Violas have smaller flowers than pansies and its common to see whole flowers used for decoration, but the delicate petals can be scattered too.
Viola flowers are sometimes steeped in strong sugar syrup to make candied flowers. This is a recipe for candied violets.