A surprising number of flowers are edible and they make a colourful and interesting addition to drinks and dishes.

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Aside from favourites like rose petals and viola petals, you could also find yourself eating the flowers of courgettes and primroses. You don't just have to use them as a decorative garnish either; many flowers have intense flavours that work well in different recipes.

For easy access to the flowers, try growing them alongside your herbs, veg and fruit. Check out these ideas on how to mix edible and ornamental plants in the garden for inspiration.

Check out these edible flowers to grow and eat, below.


Violas

Candied or crystallised violets make a pretty, edible decoration to cakes and other sweet treats, but you can also use them in savoury dishes like salads and soufflés. If you want to try making your own candied violets, use the flowers of Viola odorata, which have a sweet aroma.

Small purple viola flowers

Nasturtiums

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) flowers have a strong peppery flavour and zingy colour that's perfect for perking up salads. Or try adding them to a stir fry. If left to develop, the young, green seed pods can be used in place of capers.

A deep-orange nasturtium with variegated foliage

Roses

Rose petals have one of the most recognisable flavours. There are so many ways to use the flowers, from rose petal jam and homemade rosewater, to Turkish delight and rose petal decorations.

A purple-pink double rose bloom

Chives

Like the foliage, chive flowers have a lovely mild onion flavour. Use them in the same dishes you would chive leaves, picking apart the flowerheads to make them easier to incorporate or scatter.

Picking chive flowers

Elderflower

Once cooked, elderflowers can be used in several recipes like tarts, cakes and cordials. Go for flowerheads that have just opened for the best flavour.

A pink flowerhead on purple elderflower foliage

Lavender

Not just a pretty plant, lavender also has aromatic, edible blooms. Pick the blooms of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which has the best flavour, before they've opened, then dry before using in both sweet and savoury dishes. Find out how to dry lavender.

Purple lavender flowers in bud

Ox-eye daisies

Ox-eye daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare, have flowers that can be used a number of ways. Try preserving the unopened flower buds as you would capers, or use the petals in sweet and savoury dishes. You can also use the flowers to make tea.

White and yellow ox-eye daisies

Primroses

Like violas, primrose flowers are suitable for crystallising and using for decoration. The pale yellow blooms of Primula vulgaris (pictured) look especially pretty.

Pale-yellow primrose flowers

Borage

Borage (Borago officinalis) flowers are a striking purple-blue colour, so they're perfect for freezing in ice cubes or garnishing cocktails and salads. Keep an eye out for it as it often springs up in the garden.

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How to grow borage - how to use borage
Drinks decorated with sprigs of mauve borage flowers and foliage

Courgette

Courgettes have gloriously large flowers that are great for using in savoury dishes. Pick them while still attached to an immature courgette and cook within a few hours after picking. Delicious deep-fried, stuffed or stirred into pastas and risottos.

Orange-yellow courgette flowers attached to immature courgettes

Tips for eating flowers

  • Avoid eating the flowers from plants that have been sprayed with pesticides or fungicides
  • With roses, choose flowers from scented cultivars, as these will also have the best flavour
  • Don't eat flowers from a florist as you can't be sure what the plants have been treated with
  • Before eating any flowers, be sure you know what it is – don't eat it if you're uncertain
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