This is a list of easy to grow edible flowers that you can keep in a small garden or on your balcony. These edible flowers will be sure to make your dishes come to life!
Now is the perfect time to grown edible flowers! While growing flowers can be a little scary and off-putting for many, the edible flowers on this list are pretty foolproof and easy to care for.
Many of these edible flowers are perfect to grow in a small garden, containers or window boxes. They offer a great selection of colours and will bring joy and whimsy to any sweet or savoury dish.
When growing edible flowers, there are a few things you should consider:
- make sure you start with good quality seeds (I love West Coast Seeds). If you're buying starts, make sure they haven't been sprayed with a pesticide. Farmers markets are usually a great place to look for good quality, pesticide-free starts.
- when eating edible flowers, always double check you know what you're eating is safe and the correct variety. When in doubt, skip it.
- when growing your edible flowers, make sure they are in an area where they won't get too much foot traffic (for example people walking dogs), traffic exhaust, or anything on them you wouldn't want to eat.
Look: Borage has blue or light pink star flowers on tall, wide stalks.
Flavour: You can eat the borage flowers which tastes fresh and have a slight cucumber taste.
Usage: Besides being a honey bee's absolute favourite flower, borage makes a pretty addition to salads, cakes, and cocktails. Try adding the flowers to a leafy green salad or use as a garnish for a summer lemonade, gin and tonic, or an iced tea.
How & When to Plant: Borage is super easy to grow and will thrive in full sun to part shade. The seeds can simply be sown on top of the soil one year and they will continue to self seed after that.
Here on the coast, they can be planted as early as April or May. They have a taproot and prefer not to be moved, so transplanting is not a good idea.
Because of this taproot they do not make good potted plants and are best in a garden plot.
Look: Nasturtiums are one of my favourited edible flowers and come in many colours—from yellow to orange, white, salmon, and even red. The flowers are slightly trumpeted and grow on trailing vines.
Flavour: Both the flower and leaves can be eaten and taste peppery.
Usage: The smaller leaves can be used in salads and blended into pestos and sauces. The flowers are lovely to use in salads or as a garnish to mains.
How & When to Plant: Nasturtiums grow well in poor and average soil. They prefer to grown in full sun but will also grown in partial shade. Seedlings can be started 2-4 weeks before the last frost, or directly sown outside after the last frost date. Alternatively, you can buy starts from a nursery or farmers market, just make sure they have't been sprayed with pesticides.
Nasturtiums can be grown in pots and make great container plants for those with a deck or balcony.
They are annuals which means they will die each year, but like borage, they will often self seed.
Look: Chamomile has a delicate daisy head with feathery leaves (and can easily be confused with feverfew). When buying seeds, look for German chamomile.
Flavour: Chamomile has a distinct floral and hay-like flavour, along with a sweetness of apple and honey. If the flowers are steeped too long, they do become very bitter.
Usage: Fresh flower heads can be used to decorate desserts and can be dried to make tea, syrups, and infusions.
Take chamomile with care if you’re allergic to ragweed, as it can cause allergic reactions for some.
How & When to Plant:
On the coast, chamomile can be planted from March to mid-May. You can either direct sow the seeds (about 1 cm or 1/2 inch deep) or start in containers and transplant.
It does best in sunny and well drained soil and can be grown in containers.
Chamomile is another annual which has a tendency to self seed each year.
Look: Calendula looks similar to a daisy with its rows of concentric petals. They come in either a yellow or orange colour and have a distinctive sticky feeling stem and leaves.
Flavour: The flavour of calendula isn't the most appealing as it slightly spicy and bitter.
How & When to Plant: Calendula are great self-seeders, so like borage, I find that you only need to plant them once and they will usually come back the following year.
You can direct sow the seeds (about 5mm or 1/4 inch deep) in early spring and continue to sow them until early autumn. Calendula will grow in average garden soil and in partial shade to full sun and can even be grown in containers. It is another annual that will self seed year after year.
Look: Pansies are the cute little flowers many of us know from their heart shape and almost expressive faces. They come in nearly every colour imaginable but white, purple, and yellow are most common.
Flavour: The petals of pansies can be eaten but have little to no flavour.
Usage: They make for a lovely decoration in salads and on desserts. The petals even withstand baking and can be used for cookies.
They can also be pressed and dried to use later as decoration.
How & When to Plant: Pansies can be tricky to start from seed, so look for an organic grower who has pesticide-free starts. Farmers markets are a good place to find them. Pansy starts can be planted in the early spring and do wonderful in containers.
Pansies are annuals and will need to be bought year after year.
Look: Chive flowers are cute, spiky, purple crowns that separate into individual flowers.
Flavour: Chive blooms taste just like chives and onions making them a great addition to savoury dishes.
Usage: I love to use chive flowers in savour dishes like scones and salads (so great in potato salad). They also make an adorable topping for soups and spreads like hummus.
How & When to Plant: Chives are another plant that are best to get as a start. Look for a plant at your local garden centre in mid to late spring.
Chives are perennials and will come back every year.
Corn Flower (Bachelors Buttons)
Look: Often called cornflower, bachelor’s button, bluebottle, hurtsickle, hardheads, knapweed, or star thistle, these flowers are shaped like little stars and are either pink, white, or shades of blue.
Flavour: The flavour of the petals is slightly peppery with a touch of spice.
Usage: These are one of the cutest edible flowers and once the petals are removed from the flower head, they dry wonderfully. Try adding them to your desserts (they look great on cakes and cookies).
How & When to Plant: Seeds can be sown just after the last frost and up until the end of May. They love full sun and can be grown in containers.
Bachelor buttons are annuals and will need to be reseeded each year.
Look: Lavender has a distinct look with violet, wheat-like, flowers.
Flavour: Lavender has a woody and herbaceous taste, and to some, a soapy flavour.
Usage: It is a wonderful addition to drinks like lemonade, cocktails, and as a garnish for cakes, ice cream, and in baking.
How & When to Plant: This is another plant you'll want to get as a start as growing from seed is a pain. When looking for lavender, look for the "English" variety as not all lavenders are edible. Starts can be planed out in early spring for a summer harvest. It will thrive in both sunny garden beds and containers.
Lavender is a perennial and will come back every year.
Vegetable and Herb Flowers
Lots of vegetables also produce edible flowers. Many of us know zucchini blossoms, but there you can also eat basil, arugula, cilantro, mint, green pea (not sweet peas!) flowers among so many more.