20 Edible Flowers You Can Grow in Your Garden

edible flowers collected in a garden

The Spruce / Alyson Brown

There are countless ways to use edible flowers: fresh or dried, whole or as a condiment, infused in a dessert or drink, raw, cooked, and even pickled. Flowers are best fresh when eaten a few hours after picking, so growing your own makes sense. And it's really no different from growing flowers for their ornamental appeal.

The No. 1 rule of edible flowers is knowing how to identify them. Pick edible flowers on a dry, sunny day. Most flowers should be picked when they have fully bloomed and are not yet starting to wilt. Rinse the flowers quickly under cold water or swirl them in a large bowl of cold water to remove dirt and tiny insects. Then, gently shake off the water but not so vigorously that you remove the pollen, which often has a lot of flavor.

If you plan to dry your flowers, place them on paper towels or clean tea towels in a single layer. Let them dry in a warm, well-ventilated place, turning them over once or twice a day. Depending on the thickness and moisture content of the flowers, this can take several days. You can also dry flowers in a dehydrator. Follow the gadget instructions, and, just like with air-drying, make sure not to overlap them.

Here are 20 edible flowers to grow in your garden.

Warning

Edible flowers must be organically grown. Only use flowers from locations where no herbicides or pesticides have been sprayed. A lot of flowers from nurseries and florists are heavily treated with chemicals and not fit for consumption. Growing your own edible flowers from seed is often the safest option.

Using squash blossoms in baking

The Spruce / Alyson Brown

  • 01 of 20

    Begonia (Begonia spp.)

    Tuberous begonia (Begonia x typerhybrida)

    oopoontongoo / Getty Images

    The flowers of all tuberous begonias (Begonia x typerhybrida) and wax begonias (Begonia cucullata) are edible. Tuberous begonias are superior for eating, whereas wax begonias have a slightly bitter taste. In general, begonias have a tart, lemon-like flavor with a crisp texture. Whole flowers can be added into salads, or the petals can be used as garnish. Make sure to keep the soil of your begonia plants lightly moist but not soggy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white, bicolor
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, well-drained
  • 02 of 20

    Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

    Bee balm (Monarda didyma)

    skhoward / Getty Images

    Bee balm is a perennial with spiky, tubular flowers. Both the fresh leaves and flowers are edible. Recommended varieties for eating include ‘Adam,' ‘Cambridge Scarlet,’ ‘Croftaway Pink,’ and ‘Snow White.’ Bee balm has an Earl Grey-like taste with citrus undertones. It's great for homemade butter, teas, salad garnish, and to infuse in ice cream. Deadhead the flowers (remove the spent blooms) to promote further blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Red, purple, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 03 of 20

    Borage (Borago officinalis)

    Borage (Borago officinalis)

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    Borage is an annual with deep blue, star-shaped flowers. Only the petals are eaten; remove the hairy inner parts of the flowers with your fingertips. The petals have a subtle, cucumber-like flavor and are good in soups, salads, and desserts. The look pretty frozen in ice cubes to add to drinks. They also can be candied. If you leave some flower heads on your plant, they often will self-seed for the next year.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 04 of 20

    Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

    Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

    krblokhin / Getty Images

    Calendulas, or pot marigolds, are annuals with daisy-like flowers. Only the petals are eaten, so remove them from the flower heads before using. They have a spicy, tangy, peppery, or bitter flavor depending on the variety. And they're good for homemade butter, rice dishes, and salad garnish. They also can be dried and added as a garnish to soups, such as potato, leek, or winter squash soup. Pinch back young calendula plants to promote bushier growth and eventually more flowering. It can also be used to add a pretty, inexpensive yellow color to dishes, much like pricey saffron.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Chamomile (Matricaria recutita, Chamaemelum nobile)

    German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Both species of chamomile (German and Roman) are edible. German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is sweeter and thus preferred for culinary purposes. Chamomile has a floral, earthy, apple-like flavor that's often described as slightly bitter. It can be infused in teas, cocktails, and desserts. Fresh or dried flowers can be fried in butter and stirred into hot cereal, such as oatmeal. Be sure to plant chamomile in well-drained soil, and don't overwater it.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White and yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 06 of 20

    Chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum)

    Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Both common chives and garlic chives are perennials with edible flowers. Harvest the flowers right after they open. The flowers of common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) should be harvested before they become dry and papery. The flowers have a subtle onion or garlic flavor. They're great for homemade butter, sauces, scrambled eggs, salads, and sandwich spreads. The flowers of common chives can also be used to infuse distilled white vinegar, which turns a pretty pink. Give chives a sunny spot, and be sure to keep the soil evenly moist.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy, moist, well-drained
  • 07 of 20

    Chrysanthemum (Glebionis coronaria)

    Garland chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium)

    Siddharth Das / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The flowers of this perennial are edible, but the potted mums sold each fall at nurseries are treated with lots of chemicals and thus not suitable for eating. For edible flowers, grow garland chrysanthemums (Glebionis coronaria) from seed, planting after the threat of frost has passed. They are widely used in Japanese cuisine under the name shungiku. The flowers have a tangy, herbal, grassy, and slightly bitter flavor. They're good fresh or dried to garnish soups and salads.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained
  • 08 of 20

    Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)

    Orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)

    Evgeniya Matveeva / EyeEm / Getty Images

    All varieties of the common daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) are edible, including the orange daylily. And all parts of the plant are edible, but opinions vary which parts are the most palatable. For starters, you might try the unopened buds and petals. They have a sweet and floral to vegetal and slightly metallic flavor when eaten raw. Add sliced petals to salads and soups; unopened buds can be stir-fried in butter or oil. Or try making them into fritters. Be sure to divide mature daylily clumps to keep the plants healthy and vigorous.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Orange, yellow, red, pink, purple, melon
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)

    Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra)

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    The elderberry is a perennial shrub with large, umbel-shaped flower heads. Be sure only to use the edible flower and not any of its stem. The flowers are sweet with notes of pear and lychee. They're good to infuse in syrups, cordials, jellies, ice creams, and other desserts. Flower heads also can be dipped in batter and deep-fried, or they can be dried for tea. This plant can spread readily, so prune suckers popping up around its base to keep it in bounds.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Humusy, moist, well-drained
  • 10 of 20

    Scented-Leaved Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)

    Lemon-scented geranium (Pelargonium crispum)

    HHelene / Getty Images

    Both the leaves and flowers of scented-leaved geraniums are edible. All scents with the exception of the ‘Citronella’ variety are good for eating: apple, ginger, lemon, lime, nutmeg, peppermint, rose, and ginger. Overall, they have a citrus flavor combined with the variety's scent. They're good for garnishing salads and for candying. Outside of its hardiness zones, this plant is often grown as an annual. Take cuttings in the late summer to overwinter indoors for next season.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-drained
  • 11 of 20

    Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

    Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

    Lana_M / Getty Images

    The large, vibrant flowers of this tropical shrub can be eaten raw or dried. They have a subtly sweet and tart, cranberry- or pomegranate-like flavor. And they're ideal to infuse in drinks, including ice tea and cocktails, as well as to use in ice cream and other desserts. The dried flowers also can be used in tea. Be sure to keep this plant's soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Red
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
  • 12 of 20

    Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    Munstead lavender

    Poemnist / Getty Images

    ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’ are the most popular edible lavenders to use dried. Harvest the stalks with the flowers when only about a third to a half of the florets have opened. Do not wash them. Tie the stalks in bundles, and hang them upside down to dry in a well-ventilated location. They have a floral, herbaceous, and sweet flavor with notes of mint, citrus, and rosemary. They're good in marinades, desserts, drinks, and jellies. Try adding flowers to sugar for baking. However, lavender can be overpowering, so use it sparingly.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

    Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

    Caroline Gauvin / Getty Images

    Of the different colors of the common lilac, the fragrant purple and pink varieties are the best for culinary use. Before using, remove any leaves and stems. The flowers have a floral, perfumed flavor. They're good in homemade butter, infused in drinks and syrups, and as garnish for cakes. They also can be dipped in batter and deep-fried or candied. Prune your lilac after it's done flowering to keep the bush lush.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Shades of purple, pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 14 of 20

    Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia, Tagetes lucida)

    Signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)

    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    While these annuals are often at the top of edible flower lists, only a few marigolds are palatable, including Signet marigolds ‘Lemon Gem’ and 'Tangerine Gem' and the Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida). The blooms have a floral flavor with citrus and pepper notes. They're good for salad garnish, frozen in ice cubes, or sprinkled over egg dishes, or adding color to dishes. Be sure to give your plants some afternoon shade during the hot summer months.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Orange, yellow, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained
  • 15 of 20

    Apple Blossom (Malus spp.)

    Apple blossoms

    Cimmerian / Getty Images

    While apple tree blossoms are edible, the trees are commonly sprayed with chemicals to manage pests and diseases, making the blossoms unfit for consumption. So be sure you know how a tree has been treated before eating the blossoms. The have a floral flavor that's good in ice cream, infused in jellies, and added as garnish to salads. Because apple trees are prone to pest and disease issues, it's important to monitor them closely and treat issues as soon as possible to prevent them from compromising the whole tree. (Remember, though, you'll be sacrificing the fruit if you eat the flowers!)

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 16 of 20

    Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)

    Nasturtium (Tropaeolum)

    zzayko / Getty Images

    Both the flowers and leaves of nasturtium plants are edible. The flowers can be dried, and the seed pods can be pickled as a caper substitute. They both have a peppery flavor and go well in homemade butter, sandwich spreads, infused vinegar, and as a garnish for soups and salads. Sow nasturtium seeds outdoors after the threat of frost has passed.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, pink, yellow, cream
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

    Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    Anise hyssop is a perennial with vivid flower spikes. The flowers have a sweet, lemon-like taste with notes of licorice and mint. They work well in salads, soups, sweet breads, iced drinks, and ice cream. Leave some blooms on the plant to drop their seeds if you would like the plant to spread. Also, make sure it's never sitting in waterlogged soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Full, partial
    • Sun Exposure: Purple
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 18 of 20

    Rose (Rosa spp.)

    Rose petals for cooking jam

    Fuzullhanum / Getty Images

    Of the thousands of rose varieties, heirloom roses such as ‘Cecile Brunner’ and Rugosa roses are the most fragrant and thus the most flavorful. Caring for roses often involves a lot of chemicals for pest and disease control. So, if you plan to harvest the flowers, select a disease-resistant variety to grow organically. The white portion of the petals is bitter and should be removed. The petals have a floral, sweet, earthy flavor. They're good in homemade butter and to infuse in sugar, ice cream, drinks, syrup, honey, jelly, and vinegar. They also can be used as a garnish for salad and cakes.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white, lavender, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 19 of 20

    Squash Blossom (Cucurbitaceae Family)

    Preparing squash blossoms for stuffing

    dnaveh / Getty Images

    Squash plants develop a flush of male flowers before female flowers, which later bear the fruit. Pick the male flowers with their stems when the flowers are fully formed and swollen but before they open. The best time for picking is in the early morning. Rinse the flowers just before using them, and remove the inner parts (stamen and pistil) and the sepals (the leaves right below the flower). Squash blossoms have a mild flavor that's reminiscent of the squash. They're good stuffed with cheese, rice, or beans; baked as a gratin; or coated in a tempura batter and deep-fried. For fritters and stuffing, leave the stems on.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Varies by species
    • Color Varieties: Varies by species
    • Sun Exposure: Varies by species
    • Soil Needs: Varies by species
  • 20 of 20

    Violet (Viola spp.)

    Candied violets

    Elenathewise / Getty Images

    Violets are vigorously growing plants that can quickly overtake a garden. But, if you're interested in edible flowers, that can be a delight. They can be used fresh or dried, providing a strong floral taste with sweet notes. They're good for homemade butters and as garnishes for salads, cakes, and other desserts. They also can be infused in drinks, syrup, and jelly. If you live in the warmer part of your violet species' growing zones, be sure it has shade from the hot afternoon sun.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple, pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained
Article Sources
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  1. "Daylily Fritters for Summer." PBS.org

  2. Slater, Rebecca. Wild and Cultivated Plants You Can Eat. The University of Vermont.

  3. Cecile Brunner. Texas A&M.