Edible flower salad. Getty Images.

Growing edible flowers

Discover 10 garden flowers that are good to eat as well as look at, in our guide.

Many vegetables and herbs, including chives, courgettes, mint and runner beans, also have edible flowers. You can use them in salads and to flavour and decorate drinks, while some are large enough to stuff with cheese and fry. 

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It’s worth noting that the flowers of some plants, such as narcissus and foxgloves, are toxic, so unless you know the flower is edible, don’t eat it.

It's worth noting that the flowers of some plants, such as narcissus and foxgloves, are toxic, so unless you know the flower is edible, don't eat it.

Nutritional benefits of edible flowers

Many edible flowers are high in vitamins A and C, which promote a healthy immune system, and are rich in beneficial antioxidants. 


How to sow plants with edible flowers

Most edible flowers, including chamomile, chives, cornflowers, courgettes and marigolds can be grown from seed. Sow them in the ground or in a pot, on their own or with other flowers or veg. You’ll get the most flowers in a sunny spot.

Chamomile, chives, cornflowers and marigolds are all hardy, so they can be sown directly outside now. Annual plants, cornflowers and marigolds will flower and set seed within a year, while perennial chamomile and chives may not flower until the following year. Courgettes are tender, so sow these in small pots indoors in April and plant out after the last frosts in May to early June.


How to grow edible flowers

Bergamot, lavender and pinks are easy to grow from plug plants or young plants. Pot them into small pots and grow under cover until they are bigger and the last frosts have passed. Roses and scented pelargoniums are best bought as plants. Pelargoniums will need to be brought indoors during the winter months. 


Harvesting edible flowers

Pick flowers regularly to encourage more blooms, harvesting them on a dry morning for the best flavour. With courgettes, pick the male flowers only, to avoid reducing your vegetable harvest. These grow on a long, thin stalk, rather than an immature courgette. Eat only the petals and avoid eating any blooms that may have been sprayed with pesticides. 


Storing edible flowers

Once they have been harvested, use edible flowers immediately or store them in the fridge for a couple of days in a plastic bag. Crystallised flowers will keep in an airtight container for several months.


Edible flowers to grow

Bergamot (monarda)

Bergamot flowers
Bergamot flowers

Colourful bergamot flowers have a mild, sweet flavour. Use them to flavour teas and add as a garnish on salads.


Courgette

Courgette flower
Courgette flower

Courgette flowers are considered a delicacy in some circles. Remove the stamens and dip them in a light batter and deep fry, or for a more decadent dish, fill them with cream cheese first, gently twisting the end of the flower over to hold the cheese in place.


Cornflower

Cornflower flowers
Cornflower flowers

Cornflowers have a sweet, spicy, almost clove-like flavour. Use them to make an attractive salad garnish.


Chamomile

Chamomile flower
Chamomile flower

Chamomile flowers have a warm, apple-like flavour. Use them fresh or dried, in teas.


Rose

Rose flower
Rose flower

Rose petals have a wonderful fresh flavour. Use them fresh or crystallised on cakes, or gently simmer the petals in water to make your own rosewater.


Chives

Chive flowers
Chive flowers

Chive flowers have a spicy, oniony flavour. Use them to add a kick to salads and soups.


Primrose

Primrose flowers
Primrose flowers

Crystallise primula petals and use them as a pretty decoration on cakes.


Lavender

Lavender flowers
Lavender flowers

Lavender can be overpowering, so use sparingly in cakes, biscuits and lemonade.


Viola

Viola flowers
Viola flowers

Violas have a sweet, mildly spicy flavour. Crystallise the flowers whole for cakes, or sprinkle the petals on salads.


Pinks (dianthus)

Dianthus flowers
Dianthus flowers
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Dianthus flowers have a spicy, clove-like taste. Use them to perk up salads.