There are hundreds of plants that produce edible flowers. While we cannot list every one of them here, we have tried to include a lion’s share of the most popular and some of the often overlooked but valuable additions to any farmscape. Some genuses of flowers contain one or two edible species but the majority are toxic. We have intentionally left the easily confused ones out of this guide. This resource will be updated as we learn of new varieties or learn important facts about old standbys. If you know a flower we have missed, please let us know in the comments, and we will include it in our next round of updates.
Explanation of terms used:
Warm Season Annual - Often referred to as tender annuals as well, these plants thrive in the heat of summer but will die off at the first frost. They need to be planted out after all danger of frost has passed. Think sunflowers, zinnias and basil.
Cool Season Annual - These hardy plants can be planted in the fall for spring blooms in milder zones or 6-8 weeks before your last frost date in the early spring. Think bachelor buttons, calendula and snapdragons.
Biennial- Plants in this family usually will not flower until their second year of growth. Most need a certain amount of cold to stimulate flowers the following year. Carrots, garlic chives and many other Alliums fall into this category.
Tender Perennial- In harsher growing zones many of these types of plants can be grown as annuals. In milder climates they will come back year after year even though many will look “dead” in the winter. Depending on your growing zone and the use of crop protection these plants can provide important blooms in seasons of dearth.
Perennial - Living more than 2 years these plants are often used in landscaping or food forests. Some produce blooms year round with a little extra love. Just like their tender cousins they can provide flowers in the shoulder seasons, when annuals are waiting to go in or on their way out. Blueberries, fruit trees, and shrubs like abutilon all fit here.
Spp. - when you see this next to a genus name it means there are multiple species that are used.
Variegated - Flowers with this designation often come in varieties that are a combination of other colors available.
Easy to Grow 😎
Sell in Water 🏺
Desirable Dried 🥀
Container Grown ◼️
Allergen Warning ❌
Cool Season ❄️
Warm Season 🔥
Grow under protection🍙
Tree or Bush 🌳
Poisonous relative/look alike ☠️
Partial Shade🌤- Shade 🌥
Full Sun☀️- Partial Shade🌤
Foliage edible 🍃
Petals edible 🌼
Best for cakes 🎂
Good Shelf Life 👍
Use sparingly 🔸
Great flavor 🤤
Dame’s Rocket - (Hesperis matronalis)
❗️🍸🤤🍃🌼☀️Although widely grown as a cut flower they are highly invasive and banned in some states so we do not recommend planting these. Also known as damask violets, these members of the brassica family range from whites to light pinks and lavender. They are slightly bitter, both petals and young leaves are edible.
Dandelion - Taxacum officinalis
☀️🌤🌼😎❗️🍃🥀The entire dandelion plant is edible. Most have yellow flowers but there are a few varieties that have white or pink flowers. False dandelions can usually be ruled out because of their hairy stems. True dandelions have smooth stems and only one flower per stalk. They can be used in salads and cocktails, some chefs also batter and fry entire blooms.
Daylilies - (Hemerocallis spp.)
🏺☠️🤤🔥☀️🌤🌼🍸🎂 It is EXTREMELY important to note that Daylilies are not true lilies, they are completely different classes of plants, true lilies are toxic. As the name suggests these blooms last only about 24 hours after opening. Since a scape can have up to 15 buds that will continue to develop after being cut, they can be sold in the style of a cut flower for continued blooming at a chef’s location. Slightly peppery, the large petals have a satisfying texture. Unopened buds of the day lily are used in Chinese cuisine. The unopened buds should be cooked before eating. Daylilies are perennials that will not always bloom their first year in the ground but will continue to produce flowers for a number of years with little maintenance.
Dahlias - (Dahlia spp.)
🔥🌼☀️🌤👍😎◼️🌈Available in amazing color combinations, ranging in size from 2” blooms up to a foot across in “dinner plate” types. The edible petals are versatile and mildly flavored but should be removed from the sepals for better taste. Entire books have been written just on dahlia cultivation. There are over 20,000 named dahlias that have been bred over the years, every one of them with edible petals and tubers. With so many options to choose from it is worth doing some research into types that do well in your area. They grow quite well in grow bags allowing them to be brought indoors for overwintering in areas that experience hard frosts. To this day breeders are working to perfect the dahlia for tuber production since they range greatly in flavor and texture.
Dianthus - (Dianthus spp.)
🥀🎂👍🌼☀️🌤🔥😎 Carnations, Pinks, and Sweet Williams are all members of the dianthus genus. Listed here from largest to smallest blooms, carnations are larger single blooms with many petals, pinks are smaller and usually have only 5 petals, sweet william varieties have large flower heads composed of many small 5 petal blooms. Larger dianthus flowers have a sweet flavor with hints of clove. They are best if separated from the bitter green sepals just before serving. All dianthus are tender perennials that can be grown as annuals in climates with harsher winters. In zones 6-9 fall planted seeds will bloom earlier in the spring.
Dill - (Anethum graveolens)
🌼🍃🤤👍🍸🌿The flowers from the dill plant are tiny, yellow blooms that grow on large umbels. For flowers harvest before seeds begin to set. The large umbels can be used to garnish any plate that would benefit from a little dill aroma and flavor. The heads can be broken up into individual florets for inclusion into cheeses and compound butters.
Echinacea - (Echinacea spp.)
🌼🍃🔥😎🌿A widely used medicinal plant native to North America. All parts of the coneflower are used in a variety of preparations. For edible flowers use the petals in salads and decoratively. The whole flowers and dried flower heads can be used in buffet displays and cake decoration. Echinacea is a medicinal plant and, as such, should be used sparingly. Some people are allergic to the pollen. Most varieties will flower in their second year of growth but there are a few hybrids that will flower the first year.
English Daisy – (Bellis perennis)
🌼🍃🎂🍸👍😎Sometimes called lawn daisies, these are edible low growing flowers with a traditional daisy appearance. A yellow disk shaped center with a multitude of tiny petals that can range from white to pink to reds. They have a mild, slightly bitter flavor. Pull the petals to sprinkle on salads or use the whole flower for decorating cakes and desserts. These perennials are often grown as annuals from plugs, or biennials from seed, outside of their ideal growing zones. They will not flower in their third year but do self sow readily in their preferred environment.
Fava - (Vicia faba)
❄️◼️🤤☀️🌤Unlike most bean types, fava are a cool season annual. They can be planted in fall or early spring in many areas. Favas do not like temperatures over 75℉. Most fava types have white flowers but a few are purple and the one available crimson type makes an excellent edible flower. The unique shape of fava flowers make them a great addition to the cooler growing seasons and their mild bean flavor complements many dishes.
Fennel – (Foeniculum vulgare)
🌼🍃🔥😎☀️🌤🍸🌿All parts of the fennel plant are edible. It is very similar to dill in that it will produce tall yellow umbels of flowers when they bolt. The flavor is of mild licorice and is a popular amongst chefs for desserts. It can also be used to good effect in cocktails.
🌈🔥❄️🌳🤤🎂🍸🌼🍃Any fruit tree growing on your farm for produce can be a source of edible blooms during their often short flowering period. Citrus flowers are fragrant and potent when added to drinks and salads. Stone fruit trees have delicate blooms with a gorgeous appeal on the plate. Apples are quite lovely as the blooms tend to come much later in the Spring than other trees. For all of these, removing the green sepals improves palatability. While growing these trees, especially for their blooms, doesn’t make much sense, they can provide early contributions to the palate you have to offer chefs—also a great marker of seasonality.
Garlic - (Allium sativum)
👍🤤🍸☀️🌼🍃Only hardneck varieties of garlic will produce scapes that flower. These eventually develop into clusters of bulbils that can also be eaten. While growing garlic for the flowers may not be as common it is beautiful and extremely flavorful. They only flower once per year but the flower heads can be quite large. Sprinkling the individual flowers and green bulbils on pasta is a treat everyone must try at least once. Planting them like ornamental spring bulbs and using garlic as a companion plant to protect your other crops can provide a nice harvest of this hard to find delicacy. If you know a chef that loves seasonal foods and is a bit adventurous, these could be an excellent seller for their short season.
Geranium, Scented - (Pelargonium spp.)
🎂🤤☠️🍸☀️Note: These are not true geraniums, they are in the same family but a separate genus from Geranium spp. The geranium family is quite large and only the Pelargonium are suitable for edible uses. When choosing to plant for edible flowers stick to the scented leaf varieties. Scented geraniums come in a great variety of types, each with its own scent and flavor. Most of these are propagated by cutting very easily. The flavors can range from citruses to roses to mints. They are excellent with desserts and in cocktails.
Globe Amaranth - Gomphrena globosa
🎂🤤🍸🌼☀️🌤Texturally these are not the best of the edible flowers. The small pom pom shaped flowers are stiff and brightly colored. Gomphrena keep their color even when dried and can be used to color liquids as well as making excellent “edible” decorations.
Hawthorn- (Crataegus crus-galli)
🌳❄️☀️🌤🌼This tree produces huge numbers of flowers in June that bridge an important dearth in flowering plants providing excellent fodder for pollinating insects. The flowers and small fruits from this relative of the apple are edible although flavor varies between types. Often used for teas and flavoring cordials.
🌿🤤🍸🎂👍😎☀️🌤🌼🍃Most culinary herbs have flowers that are edible. The flowers often taste like a slightly sweeter version of the leaf. If the green sepal at the base of the petal is left on the flavor will be a strong and often spicy version of the herb. Because herbs sometimes have a mind of their own when it comes to timing and proliferation of blooms, we have included individual listings of the most popular types that have more reliable bloom times. Many herbs are grown as tender perennials in mild climates but are treated as annuals in areas that get a lot of frost. Other herbs with edible flowers include: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Anise, Catnip/Catmint, Caraway, Cumin, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Lovage, Oregano, Marjoram, Shiso.
🤤🍸🎂🥀 Hibiscus are a large family of flower plants some of which are grown as annuals while others are perennial shrubs. Some other types than those listed may be edible. Rose of Sharon likewise is used to refer to a large group of plants that includes Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.Another place where knowing exactly what you are growing is important. Many members of this family of plants have flowers that look very similar but the two species mentioned here have been cultivated for food in many cultures for a long time. These large flowers can bring a lot of visual interest to a plate and most have nice texture and pleasing mild flavor. Pick the same day the flower opens for best shelf life. The calyces (with seeds removed) of sabdariffaare used to color and flavor beverages in many different cuisines.
Hollyhock – (Alcea rosea, Malva Alcea)
☀️🌤😎🌼🌈These virtually flavorless, bright flowers are often used for desserts. You will need space to grow these as they can self-seed readily and grow to approximately 3ft tall. The petals are the only palatable part of the flower, remove all other parts before serving. Available in a variety of colors including the elusive black. Make sure you know which types you are growing and stick to the types that have been cultivated for edible or medicinal uses.
Lavender – (Lavandula angustifolia)
🌿🤤🎂🍸🥀☀️🌤High-quality lavender is always in demand and can be sold fresh or dried. For edible flowers, harvest when blooms have begun to open. For bakery use or chocolatiers, sell fresh bundles of flowers right before the buds open to preserve the oils. Once harvested, preserve the extra by hanging upside to dry. Again harvesting before the flower buds open is extremely important for the quality of oils in dried material. Once dried, the buds can be stripped from the stems and cured in jars for culinary use. There are a considerable number of varieties of lavender. Check with your seed supplier or local nursery for ones that are well suited to your zone. Because lavender is slow to grow from seed, it is best to start with established plants or cuttings.
Lilac - (Syringa vulgaris)
🌳🤤🎂🍸🥀☀️🌤These highly fragrant flowers grow on bushes. Flowers range from white to light purple to pink. Formed in clusters, the flowers have a light lemony flavor that can be added to dishes or diffused into oils. Harvest before blooms open to preserve the oils. Add buds or blooms to fresh lemonade for a special treat.
Marigolds - (Tagetes tenuifolia, lucida)
😎☀️🌤🍃🌼🔥🎂🍸Marigolds come in a range of warm colors from yellow, orange, red, and variegated combinations of all three . For edible flowers we recommend using the small Tagetes tenuifolia, commonly known as gem or signet marigold. These have a milder citrusy flavor. Mexican mint marigold Tagetes lucida, is a popular herb often referred to as southern tarragon or sweet mace. The leaves and flowers have a sweet licorice flavor. While all of the members of the marigold family have flowers that are technically edible, both the french and african varieties have a pungent smell and are often bitter in flavor. For all types removing the green sepals will take away most of the bitterness.
Mint - All mint (Mentha spp.)
🤤🌿🎂🍸 Mint varieties have edible flowers. The individual flowers are tiny. Mint flowers have a robust mint flavor that can range from chocolatey to lemony depending on the mint type. They can be downright “spicy” level strong. Mint is very susceptible to cross-pollination and will not grow true to type, so particular varieties like chocolate mint are best propagated by runner or cutting. Because of the strong smell of these flowers, they can attract flies. Catmint is part of the Lamiaceae family but falls under the genus Nepeta. All members of the Mentha genus can become quickly invasive and take over large areas of your garden. For this reason, we recommend growing it in containers where the runners will be contained and dividing up the plants every few years.
Moringa - (Moringa oleifera)
🌳🍃🌼☀️Also known as the Drumstick Tree or Horseradish Tree. It can flower and fruit twice each year depending on climate. This fast growing, drought tolerant tree has great potential in combating malnutrition. All parts of the plant are edible and used in many dishes in Indian cuisine. Worth researching as a specialty crop in zones 9-11 or when grown under protection.
Disclaimer:This resource's purpose is to provide general information and inspiration only. Since many of the flowers listed herein are known for medicinal properties, seek the advice of a health professional before touching or eating any plant matter that is new to you. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused or consumed in large quantities.BootstrapFarmer.com stresses that you do not eat any edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees, or bushes until you have verified the genus and species. If selling flowers as a consumable, it is up to you to do your due diligence to know the species of any flowers sold to consumers. No liability exists against BootstrapFarmer.com or anyone who works for BootstrapFarmer.com; nor can they be held responsible for any allergy, illness, or adverse effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of the information in this website or through using any of the plants mentioned by BootstrapFarmer.com.