Edible Flowers You Can Grow in Your Garden

Your flower garden can be a feast for the eyes—and the stomach.


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There are lots of reasons to grow a gorgeous flower garden—to increase your house's curb appeal, have cuttings to create your own floral arrangements, or to help the birds and the bees get the pollen they need to thrive.

But here's another unexpected option—growing an edible flower garden to help make your dishes more delicious and beautiful.

"There is something so whimsical about using petals and edible flowers," says Julie Carson, co-founder of Plantgem. "If you keep a flower garden, it's such a lovely way to bring that wow into your everyday."

How to Work Edible Flowers Into Your Recipes

When you think edible flowers, you probably picture them tossed into salads or sugared on top of a cake. But there's more than one way to use edible flowers. "I love to see edible flowers frozen inside of ice cubes, or baked into sugar cookies," Carson says. "Both feel unexpected and extra-pretty."

You can try them:

• Tossed into salads

• Baked into cookies or breads

• Candied or sugared and used to decorate cakes, cookies, or candy

• Stuffed and fried

• Infused into simple syrups

• Frozen into ice cubes

• Used as a garnish

• Chopped and added to savory dishes, such as soup or egg dishes

Tips for Using Edible Flowers

Watch out for pesticides and insecticides

If you're growing your own edible garden, you can steer clear of potentially harmful chemicals and use more natural techniques to control pests and weeds.

If you purchase them elsewhere, you may want to find out more about the growing conditions. "When I'm out to eat I generally trust that the produce is being treated well, although tropical or non-local flowers that are generally imported I would avoid, or ask to make sure they are untreated before giving them a nibble," Carson says.

If you want to use edible flowers but don't have a garden to grow them in, you can opt to purchase them online or even at your local grocery store.

Wash your flowers thoroughly

Even if you're using organic flowers from your own garden, you'll want to give them a good scrub. "Treat edible flowers like you would any other produce that you're going to eat raw: washing before use, and paying attention to growing conditions if organic is important to you," Carson says.

Taste test your flowers

Different varieties and colors of edible flowers have different flavors. (For instance, some species of rose have a darker, spicier flavor, while others are lighter and more fruity.) You may want to taste them before you put them in the recipe, so you can change up the recipe if needed, such as adding a little lemon juice if the citrus notes in a scented geranium aren't coming through.

Popular Edible Flowers

While many flowers are edible, others—like hydrangea, sweet pea, oleander, and lily of the valley—are not. Stick with the edible flowers listed below to ensure that you're eating something safe.

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Nasturtium flowers blooms on the flowerbed
koromelena / Getty Images

Prized for their peppery flavor and bold colors, nasturtium makes a natural addition to a tossed salad, either as a garnish or with blooms throughout. "Nasturtiums are probably the most recognizable edible flower," Carson says. "While they tend to be orange, we have a pretty purple variety that is unexpected and just as lovely in a salad."

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Rosa Superhero, a floribunda rose with magenta flowers
Garden Photo World/David C. Phillips/Alloy/Getty Images

Roses are one of the most popular perennial flowers for the garden, and they also make a great addition to your menu too.

Rose has a sweet, fruity flavor, and it's a traditional flavoring for desserts, especially in the Middle East and India. Usually, a simple syrup that has rose petals steeped in it is used, but you can also find rose petals as a garnish in those desserts. (That rose syrup can also be used in lieu of simple syrup in cocktail recipes—it's especially fantastic in ones that also feature berries.)

Rose petals or roses can also be used to adorn desserts or cocktails, and even to make a jelly.

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Squash Blossom

Squash Blossoms

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Whether you're growing butternut, zucchini, or another squash, you can harvest a few of these large golden yellow blooms to enjoy before your crop comes in.

Fun fact: If you only take the male flowers (the ones without a pistil in the center and usually located along the ends of vines), you won't impact your zucchini harvest by taking them.

Squash blossoms have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. They're often stuffed with mild cheese like ricotta or goat cheese and fried, or can be added to salads, quiches, or pasta dishes.

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closeup of yellow, burgundy, white, and purple pansy flowers

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These petite little blooms are a flower garden favorite, and beloved among edible flower users. They have a fresh, slightly sweet flavor that works beautifully in a number of applications, whether you want to toss them in a salad, adorn cookies and cakes, or use it as a garnish.

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jfairone / Getty Images

These cousins of the pansy (both are considered violas) are used similarly. "Violas have my heart forever, and are perfect little garnishes for cakes, salads, sweet tea, you name it," Carson says. "Plus, they have a nice sweet flavor."

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German Chamomile


Inahwen / Getty Images

It's probably not a surprise that the petite, daisy-like chamomile blooms are edible, considering they're part of the popular soothing tea. The flowers have a fruity, herbal taste (as anyone who's enjoyed the tea can attest), so they're more often used in dessert and drink recipes. They look gorgeous baked into a cookie or scone, the fresh flowers can be steeped in hot water to make fresh chamomile tea, or freeze them in ice cubes to include in a glass of chamomile iced tea. (They're also gorgeous topping a cake or cupcake!)

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Thyme Blossom

Thyme Plants in Flower
Federica Grassi / Getty Images

Many herbs have flowers that you can use in lieu of the herb itself to give you the flavor with a little extra eye candy involved. Thyme's blossoms can be sprinkled as a garnish on any dish that calls for it—or mix it into butter to create a compound butter.

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Beautiful orange calendula officinalis on stem
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Calendula flowers are often used in tea, and the fresh flower flavor profile mirrors the tea—herbal with just a hint of bitter. This edible flower tends toward the savory side of things, so add it as a garnish to soups, salads, and egg dishes, or add it to a compound butter or cheese. Some people just use the flower's brightly colored petals, as the center may have a stronger flavor.

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Motty Levy / Getty Images


The bold purple blooms atop onion and garlic plants have a milder take on their pungent flavor—and make a beautiful addition to a compound butter, garnish for a dish (they're gorgeous atop a potato leek soup or flatbread), or even use them in lieu of scallions for a fresh take on scallion pancakes.

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Mint Blossom

Mint flowers

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A mint plant's spiky flowers taste minty as well, making them a perfect, prettier addition to anything that calls for mint. Use them as a garnish for a mint-based cocktail like a mint julep or mojito—they also make a beautiful edible decoration for a chocolate cake. You can also steep them in simple syrup to sweeten cocktails or iced tea.

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Bee on flowers of lavender plant.

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As a cousin to mint and rosemary, lavender's flavor hits similar notes, with a bittersweet, floral taste. Lavender can be chopped and baked or infused into desserts, Like mint, you can steep it in tea or simple syrup to add to drinks, and it makes a gorgeous garnish for your dishes. Lavender also makes a nice addition to homemade fruit jams (it's great with strawberries or blackberries).

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Basil Blossom

Basil Flowers

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To keep your basil growing and thriving, you have to keep pinching away the flowers as they come. But basil flowers are edible and carry the same flavor, so go ahead and use them in lieu of basil in all of your favorite recipes, from basil pesto and pasta to pizza.

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Borage flowers close up (Borago officinalis)
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Borage is the perfect addition to a pollinator friendly garden, as the herb is a favorite of bees. The vibrant blue flowers of borage have a mild, cucumber-like flavor, making them a great addition to a cucumber salad or cocktail. Just don't go too crazy with the borage: The flowers and foliage contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause stomach upset.

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Arugula Blossom

Arugula flowers

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When arugula starts growing these pretty white flowers, the leaves themselves have gotten bitter and may not be great in your salad—but arugula blooms have its signature sharp, peppery taste—so use them to adorn your salads.

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Purple orchids, Violet orchids. Orchid is queen of flowers
Antonio Zanghì / Getty Images

Exotic orchids are often used as a garnish for dishes, but you can eat them, too—they have a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Go ahead and add the blooms to salads, adorn your cocktails with them, or even sugar or candy them for a gorgeous cake decoration.

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Orange flowers, French marigolds.
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Marigolds tend to have a citrusy, herbal flavor to them, which makes them a great addition to salads, as a bright garnish to a chocolate dessert, or mixed into a compound butter or cheese.

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Tuberous begonia (Begonia x typerhybrida)
Tuberous begonia (Begonia x typerhybrida).

oopoontongoo / Getty Images

Begonia flowers are edible, and can give your dishes a lemony flavor. They're terrific paired with yogurt, as a cocktail garnish, or in salads.

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Lilac bush blooming with lilac-colored flowers.

 Antema/Getty Images

Fragrant lilacs have a fresh floral and citrus flavor that'll be a perfect (and unexpected) addition to spring salads. You can also sugar the blooms and use them to dress up a cake.

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honeysuckle plant


Robert Miller / Getty Images 

Pretty honeysuckle blooms have a sugar-sweet, honey-like nectar that you can suck right out of the bloom. You can also infuse it into a simple syrup that'll make for a perfect addition to drinks or desserts.

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Fennel Blossoms

Fennel Blossoms. Photo © Anna Yu (Getty Images)

Like many other herbal and vegetable flowers, the flowers of fennel plants are edible, and can be used in recipes that call for fennel, as it shares that anise-like flavor.

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Scented Geranium

Rose Scented Geranium
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Scented geraniums are herbs that give off the aromas and flavor notes of other plants—like lemon, rose, chocolate, or strawberry. You can use the leaves or the flowers in recipes. They're great infused into simple syrup, as garnishes,

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Pink hardy hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos)
Pink hardy hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos).

Photos from Japan, Asia and othe of the world / Getty Images

Bright pink, tangy hibiscus tea has been a favorite of tea lovers for years, but the flowers themselves are edible as well. Their tart flavor means they're great for both savory and sweet applications.

The edible blooms can be used in Mexican cooking (think quesadillas and enchiladas), as an adornment for cocktails or desserts, or to make a tea or simple syrup.

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