Certain flowers have been eaten for centuries, like the popular nasturtium, which the ancient Greeks grew in kitchen gardens. Many other edible flowers, such as violets and pansies, are traditionally used in teas.
How to Grow Edible Flowers
First-timers should grow the flowers from seed to understand what works best in their region. Varieties like larkspur tend to perform better in her area, she says, because of the cooler summers. Try a company that allows you to search for varieties by season, plant type, zone, and color for a custom mix.
Today, let’s explore the various edible flowers you can try growing at home. Here’s what you need to know:
Calendulas are probably the most common edible flower. They’re bright and cheery and a regular sight in home gardens. The edible flowers are healthful, too, rich in vitamins A and C, plus flavonoids, making them good for your immune system.
Like most edible flowers, calendulas are also pretty easy to grow. Right now, they’re producing fragrant yellow and orange blooms. Start them from seed, either indoors or in the garden, and you should be harvesting in under a month.
The nasturtium is another classic edible flower. It’s often used as a peppery garnish on salad in place of salad greens. Nasturtiums are easy to grow, thriving in full sun and damp soil. They mature in three to four weeks.
Once your nasturtiums are ready, harvest them by cutting off the entire flower. Remove the calyx and use them as a garnish on your next meal.
Violas are little sweetheart flowers that are perfect for a small garden. The bees love violas and are a lovely addition to any salad.
The easiest way to grow violas is to sow them directly into your garden. If you want them to flower more quickly, then start them indoors. Violas need warmth to get going, but once they establish themselves, they’ll survive in cooler temperatures.
Marigolds are popular edible flowers that are easy to grow. The flowers are known for their strong scent, which can be a little off-putting, but they have a reputation for repelling pests, making them a good choice for the vegetable garden.
Harvest the flower before the petals open up, cutting them off just above the calyx. The leaves can also be used in cooking.
Honeysuckle is an excellent flowering vine for the edible flower gardener. You can easily graft it onto strong support, like a fence or trellis. It can also be grown in a pot and trellised with separate support.
Honeysuckle has a sweet taste, so it’s a favorite decorative edible flower. It can also be used to make a refreshing tea. The flowers are easy to grow but are treated as annuals and will die with the first frost.
Begonias are a popular flowering houseplant, but you can also grow them as a regular garden plant. They’re easy to grow as long as you don’t over water. When harvesting begonias for their flowers, cut them off just above the calyx.
The Bottom Line
What makes the best edible flowers? As with any vegetable or fruit, choosing a variety best suited to your region is essential.
New to the edible flower game? You can start small with a packet of seeds and see what grows. Keep a notebook to track which flowers grow best in your soil, when they’re ready for harvest, and what you can do with them.
As with any food, it’s essential to know how to identify edible flowers that are safe for consumption. Start with a trusted botanist’s guide or book, and feel free to leave a comment below for any questions you may have.
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