I love growing both flowers and vegetables in my garden. Flowers add beauty and attract pollinators and vegetables give me organic food to enjoy. It wasn’t until recently I discovered the joy of flowers that can do it all! Adding flowers to your drinks, salads, and other cold dishes adds a whimsical garnish, unique flavor and it’s fun to add one more element from your garden to a meal. There are quite a few flowering plants that have edible blooms and many herbs also produce tasty flowers!
What You Need to Know
Always grow your flowers from seed or buy certified organic flower starts! You don’t want to eat flowers that were sprayed with dangerous chemicals and most flower companies don’t consider the possibility of their decorative flowers being eaten. I personally grow all of the flowers listed here by direct sowing the seeds and I think that is the easiest and simplest way to ensure they are organic.
When the flowers are in bloom, clip or pinch them off the plant, gently wash them, then enjoy!
Don’t forget about your pollinator friends! I always leave a few blooms on each plant for the beneficial insects that visit my garden. Most flowering plants will continue to produce blooms after harvest and many will produce more because you harvested them, but it’s always good to use your garden to help pollinators as well as yourself.
With those points in mind, here are my favorite edible flowers that you can grow in your garden!
These are one of my all-time favorite flowers for so many reasons! They create beautiful foliage that will make your garden feel extra lush, they attract pollinators, they can act as a trap crop to keep pests away from your veggies, and both the leaves and the lovely flowers are edible! While the seeds can be challenging to germinate and they certainly test your patience (sometimes it takes three weeks before I see a sprout!), they are prolific producers once they get started. There are “trailing” varieties that cascade down and a more general variety that produces a mound-shaped plant. The seeds will germinate more easily if you soak them for 24 hours before you plant and I recommend planting them in a hanging pot or on the edge of a raised bed or retaining wall so they have somewhere to spill (especially if you go with a trailing variety).
This plant is well known for its flowers and that’s for good reason! These flowers are sweet and dainty, easy to grow, and have a delicious flavor. They are also one of the earliest producers, with a short wait from seed to bloom and a high frost tolerance. You can plant them in early spring and have flowers by mid-summer in cold climates. Chamomile is most often dried for use in tea, but it is also great used fresh. Once you plant this in your garden, it’ll readily reseed itself, so you can have tasty chamomile for years to come.
I love how bachelor’s buttons look and they are also incredibly easy to grow from seed! Their petals make a colorful addition to any dish and, like chamomile, you can start the seeds very early in the spring for an early summer harvest!
Pansies and Violas
Pansies and their tiny relative, violas, are tasty, colorful and don’t take up too much space in your flower bed. They are easy to grow; if you don’t want to put a lot of effort in, you can really just scatter the seeds all over and rake them in a bit. Both pansies and violas will also reseed themselves, so you’ll get surprise plants in the next growing season!
Chives are a common garden herb, but their pretty pink flowers offer another great flavor for your dishes. They offer a delicate onion flavor that is perfect for savory dishes and I love that the plant is multi-purpose. You can cook the petals into a hot dish, use the whole flowers as flavorful garnishes, or use the fresh petals as an ingredient in a salad. Another fun option is chive flower infused vinegar. Simply soak the chive blossoms in white vinegar at room temperature for about two weeks, then strain. The infused vinegar is perfect for salad dressings! Chives can be grown from seed or transplanted and they are a perennial, so you will have chives every year with little-to-no effort.
I originally grew crimson clover as a live mulch cover crop (read about it here), but the vibrant red blooms were a huge added benefit that will keep me planting it every year. These flowers are tasty in fresh teas and other cold dishes and they add a lovely pop of color to your plate. What you don’t eat fresh can be dried for a beautiful winter bouquet or for a healthful and tasty tea. When your gardening season wraps up, be sure to cut the plant back while leaving the roots in your garden and they will fix nitrogen into your soil.
Whether you have a pot, a small nook in between plants or a full-blown flower garden, edible flowers are a worthy investment for their attractiveness to pollinators and delicious petals.