Edible Flowers That You Can Grow
Lots of people grow flowers for their beauty or fragrance, but did you know that many varieties are also delicious to eat? Edible flowers add flavor and visual appeal to a wide variety of dishes, from salads and desserts to main courses and even beverages.
Whether you are a seasoned chef looking for a unique twist to your dishes or simply want to add a splash of color and flavor to your meals, edible flowers fit the bill. Read on for some culinary ideas and tips for growing three edible flowers.
Every winter, we look forward to the delicate scent of lilacs heralding the arrival of spring. Woody flowering plants that are part of the olive family, lilacs are also known for beautiful clusters of tiny purple or white flowers, which are also edible. Use the flowers to make lilac syrup or jelly, or simply sprinkle them on salad for a beautiful garnish. Try making candied lilacs for decorating cakes and other delicacies or infuse them into liquids like water, alcohol, or even honey.
Tips for Growing Lilac
Ready to grow your own? With proper care, lilacs are beautiful and fragrant bushes that thrive for many years.
- Plant lilacs in the spring after the threat of frost has passed or in the fall before the first frost, although some say that fall is best. Even late and mild frosts can spoil the flowers.
- Choose a location for your lilacs that gets full to partial sun — at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Select a location with well-draining soil. Water them regularly but avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
- Make sure to fertilize in the spring using a balanced organic fertilizer or compost. But don’t overdo your fertilizer; excessive fertilization can cause foliage to thrive at the expense of flowers.
Pansies have a light and fresh taste that some compare to baby lettuce with a slightly sweet flavor. Different colors deliver different flavors, ranging from salad-like flavors to flowery perfume highlights, so taste your pansies before using them. Their vibrant hues will bring a splash of color to your greens, salads, and sandwiches. Pansies are also the perfect addition to your sweet treats. Use them to add a touch of elegance to your cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and even cocktails.
Tips for Growing Pansies
Pansies are cool-weather flowers and generally don’t tolerate heat well. Here’s how to keep them happy.
- Plant your pansies either in the fall or early spring in a location that gets full morning sun, but not hot afternoon sun. If you’re growing them from seed, you’ll want to start them inside.
- Pick well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, so they can soak up all the nutrients they need to flourish.
- Pansies need around an inch of water every week, from either rainfall or your trusty watering can.
- We recommend you fertilize your pansies with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.
Hostas are a popular perennial plant known for their attractive foliage, which comes in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors. The hosta shoots, leaves, flower buds, and flowers are all edible, although most people tend to prefer the tender shoots. The shoots taste similar to asparagus, while the leaves are more like lettuce, but both have a touch of bitterness. The flowers are slightly sweet, without much flavor.
The shoots are often eaten roasted, sautéed , marinated, and raw. You can eat the leaves raw or cooked and add them to salads, soups, stir-fries, or use them as a wrap for sandwiches. The delicate flowers make a lovely edible garnish.
Tips for Growing Hostas
- Before planting, which should take place after all risk of frost has passed, amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure. Hostas love rich, loamy soil.
- Hostas are shade-loving plants. Plant them in shade or partial shade with morning sun and protect them from hot afternoon sun.
- Hostas require moist but well-drained soil. Avoid planting them in areas that are prone to standing water, as this can cause root rot. Water sparingly, but don’t allow the soil to totally dry out, since this might induce leaf withering. Consider using self-watering pots, which automate the watering process and eliminate the danger of over-watering or under-watering — both of which may may damage the plants.
- In the spring, apply compost or a balanced organic fertilizer to give your hostas a boost of nutrients.
Controlling Pests and Fertilizing Edible Plants
Just as you wouldn’t put toxic chemicals on the herbs, vegetables, or fruits you intend to eat, it’s crucial to avoid using synthetic pesticides and herbicides on your edible flowers and plants. Use organic pest control methods such as beneficial insects and companion planting. To feed your plants, use use an organic fertilizer. Consider compost, bone meal, fish emulsion, kelp meal, blood meal, and rock phosphate, which can provide needed nutrients for the plants without the risk of chemical residue.
If you cannot avoid using a synthetic pesticide, make sure you read the label carefully and ensure that the product is labeled as safe for use on edible plants. Also, don’t forget the pre-harvest interval. It is the time between the application of the pesticide and the moment when the plant can be safely harvested. It will vary depending on the manufacturer as well as the type of plant itself. This is why it’s crucial to follow the instructions to ensure that the plants are safe to consume.
Consider Edible Flowers
For your safety, it’s essential to correctly identify the flower species, confirm the flowers haven’t been treated with pesticides or herbicides, and always wash them before consuming. The easiest way to make sure they’re safe is to grow your own. Be sure to grow them in conditions that are free of synthetic chemicals that could harm you and the pollinators your garden depends on. So, while planning your garden this year, consider incorporating some edible flowers into the mix.
We’ve touched on just a few of the many varieties of flowers you can consume safely. If you already employ organic gardening methods, they’re a perfect fit. And if you don’t, maybe it’s time you gave organic gardening a try by growing some edible flowers. They’ll beautify your garden as well as your meals.
About the Author
Tony Manhart is the founder and editor in chief at Grower Today. Tony’s enthusiasm and rich experience in all things related to growing plants have led him to share his knowledge with gardening aficionados all over the world. When he is not working around his garden, Tony spends his time writing tips and tricks on various subjects related to plant cultivation and soil maintenance.