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 🏺
Dried Flower Desirable🥀
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 🤤
Nasturtium - (Tropaeolum majus)
😎👍🔥☀️🌤🍃🌼🍸🤤All garden nasturtiums produce edible flowers, leaves, stems and seeds. The fresh seeds can even be pickled like capers. Interestingly this familiar garden flower is a cousin of the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, mustards, etc…). All parts of the nasturtium have a pleasing, sweet, peppery flavour. The flowers can be used whole to decorate salads and a variety of other foods. The long nectary section of the calyx may be removed if you find that it is harboring ants or other small insects. Nasturtium as a name is also used to refer to a different genus of plants that include watercress. Both Nasturtiumand Tropaeolumhave similar sweet, peppery flavors.
Nigella - (Nigella damascena, sativa)
🏺🔥❄️☀️🌤🔸🎂Known as 'love-in-a-mist' or black cumin, these are frequently grown as a cut flower that can be used fresh or for the dried seed pods that retain shape and color very well. The seeds are used as a spice in many cultures. They make excellent decorative flowers for cakes and savory dishes. May cause intestinal upset in large quantities so best used more for decoration than eating.
O, P, Q
Okra - (Abelmoschus esculentus)
☀️🌤🤤🥕🌼🍸🎂This member of the mallow family produces an abundance of large blooms that quickly mature into edible seed pods. The flowers have a slightly mucilaginous texture. Okra is a great choice for hot climates as the plants are drought tolerant and prefer high temps to produce. Keep well picked to encourage new blooms.
Onions - (Allium cepa)
👍🔥◼️🥕☀️🌤🌼🍃🍸🤤👍All members of the onion family produce large seed heads made up of up to a 100 individual flowers. Most have a strong, slightly sweet onion flavor. The green seed heads can also be eaten raw or pickled. They make excellent additions sprinkled over savory dishes just before serving, imparting a fresh green heat to any dish.
🌼🎂🍸🔸🌈Dendrobiums and Epidendrums are the two genus of orchids most commonly grown for edible flower production. While most types of orchids are not toxic to humans some types can cause intestinal distress so it is best to stick with known varieties. Do your research before you invest in growing orchids, the edible genuses are not hardy when grown outdoors in most of the USA. Most successful edible orchid growers are growing in carefully controlled environments. The large blooms are great for focal points in plating and the smaller types can be scattered in salads or floated in a cocktail. The flavor is usually mild and reminiscent of lettuce.
Passion Flower - (Passiflora incarnata)
😎◼️🍸🎂🌼🔥This variety often called “Maypop” for its edible fruits and is native to the southeastern US. Well mulched it can be cold hardy up to -20℉. There are many other edible varieties of Passiflora so do a little research and choose a variety that grows well in your area. The large intricate flowers are great for plating and floating in drinks. Depending on your climate these short lived perennials may not flower their first year of growth.
Not recommended for consumption by pregnant people. May cause drowsiness. Because this is a medicinal plant it may interact with some common medications.
Pansy – (Viola x wittrockiana)
🌈🔥❄️😎👍🌼Member of the viola family, only a bit larger than violets. These are very popular pressed and used for cakes and cookies. They are nearly flavorless, making them the perfect bright addition to desserts and salads. A common addition to cocktails as they freeze in ice cubes without discoloring. Remove the bitter green sepals before serving as they can cause intestinal upset.
Pea – (Pisum sativum)
☠️👍🥕🍃🌼☀️🌤🎂🤤aka. Your average garden pea variety. These legumes produce delicious tender flowers that have a mild pea flavor and do well in salads and other dishes. Flowering pea tendrils can be used for garnish, just cut off the top 6” of the plant complete with flowers. There are hundreds of varieties that can all be used but dwarf varieties are particularly good for flower production. Peas prefer cooler temperatures and blooming will taper off as the weather warms in Summer.
Poisonous Relative: Ornamental sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are TOXIC.
Perennial Phlox - (Phlox paniculata)
☠️🤤👍😎🍃☀️🌤🔥 Be certain that you have the tall-growing perennial garden Phlox not the inedible annual creeping type before you eat the flowers. The perennial type of phlox has flowers with five petals that have a nice, peppery flavour. They look beautiful and add flavor complexity in fruit salads. They also stand up well to being candied or sugared.
Plumeria - (Plumeria spp.)
☠️☀️🌤🌳🌼🍸🎂Also known as frangipani, these beautiful five petaled flowers are most commonly used in leis but are also edible. They come in a range of colors from white, to pink and red with yellow centers. Only the flowers should be consumed and only in small quantities. According to the USDA forest service "all parts" of the plant are poisonous. The stems exude a sticky white latex that can cause skin irritation so use care when harvesting flowers. Plumeria can be very similar in appearance to oleander which is highly toxic.
Primrose - (Primula vulgaris)
🎂🍸☀️🌤🔥👍Blooms in the early Spring in most areas. The edible types are those native to the northern woodlands of Europe. The flower buds will often be pickled, steamed, or fermented into wine. Very important to know which type you are purchasing when growing from starts. Only these two species are edible. They can be grown from seed but are tricky to germinate, conversely many will reseed themselves if the garden offers their ideal growing conditions.
Queen Anne’s Lace - (Daucus carota)
☠️😎🌼🍃🍸🤤🎂Also known as Wild Carrot. The large umbels of tiny white, pink or purple flowers have a distinctly carroty flavor that make them excellent on crudites and charcuterie plates. While most carrots are biennial there are a few varieties that have been bred for cut flower production that will flower their first year. Due to the appearance of these flowers they are easily confused with the highly poisonous wild Poison Hemlock. Carrot family stems are hairy. Poison Hemlock has smooth stems with purple spots. Again know what you are growing before you eat it.
Rose - (Rosa alba, centifolia, damascena, gallica)
🌈🔥🌼🍃◼️🎂These are the four species of roses identified by the FDA as edible. They can be used to flavor and scent many products. Roses vary widely in scent and flavor so try multiple types to find the one that suits your needs. The small white base of the petal may be bitter. Roses do not grow true to seed so if you want a particular variety you will need to purchase from a reputable organic nursery or start your own from cuttings.
Safflower - (Carthamus tinctorius)
🌼🍃🤤☀️🌤🔥The blooms of this plant are also sold as a replacement for saffron and are used like saffron as a food dye. Fresh petals can be added to rice dishes and salad. The flavour is very mild on its own. Adds a bright orange color naturally.
Sage - (Salvia officinalis)
😎☀️🌤🔥🍃🌼🎂👍🤤🍸The deep blue flowers of culinary sage add an interesting mild-sage flavour to salads or savory dishes. Pull individual flower tubes from the stems. If the sepals are left attached, use sparingly as the flavor can overwhelm a dish. Some other types of Saliva also have edible flowers; Grapefruit sage, White Sage, and Pineapple sage flowers are also edible. Rosemary has recently been reclassified as a member of the salvia family as well. Some salvias are poisonous so make sure you know which types you are growing.
Scarlet Runner Bean - (Phaseolus coccineus)
🍸🎂🌼😎👍☀️🌤Runner bean flowers are vivid, intense orangey red color. Some varieties have bi-bolored flowers. Bean flowers have a deliciously sweet beany flavor. They make fabulous garnishes for soup or salad. Any pole or bush bean flower can also be used as an edible flower but runner beans are recommended because they are prolific flower producers and perennial in mild climates.
Snapdragon - (Antirrhinum majus)
🌈☀️🎂🍸👍In mild climates this cool season annual can be fall planted for early Spring blooms. Perennial in zones 7-11 but can be grown as an annual just about anywhere. The tall sprays of medium sized flowers have an unique shape that adds visual interest to the plate. Flowers can range through the sunset in colors with some red varieties approaching purple. The flavor varies by type but tends to be a bit bitter so use sparingly.
Squash - (Cucurbita pepo)
🥕🤤🌼☀️🌤👍Both the male and female flowers of all squash and zucchini varieties are edible and taste faintly of squash. If you are growing squash for market it makes sense to only harvest the male blooms, recognizable by their longer stems and lack of proto squash at the base of the flower. Be sure to leave at least one male flower per plant for proper pollination of female flowers. Summer squash varieties are popular for flower production because the plants are quick to mature. The harvested flowers can be torn into salads or stuffed and fried in a light batter. Squash blossoms are popular in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Sunflower - (Helianthus annuus)
😎🌼🍃🤤👍☀️🌤Great as a garnish, added to dishes or as steamed unopened blossoms and served with butter. It has a mild artichoke flavor. Some people also grill entire immature seed heads. Petals have a slightly bitter flavor, and range in colors of light yellows and oranges to deep red that is near black when grown in part shade. Branching types like Lemon Queen and Autumn Beauty can produce 20 or more flowers from a single plant.
Stock - (Matthiola incana)
🌈😎👍☀️🌤🔥❄️🤤🌼Sometimes considered old fashioned, these cool season annuals produce tall stalks of prolific blooms. There are simply petaled varieties and those with a filled in and frilly appearance. Some produce a single flowering column while others are spray types that will produce multiple branches of flowers. Dwarf varieties can do well in containers and even be grown indoors. They are particularly popular with flower growers because of their ability to produce in cooler climates and can be grown to flower in the winter in mild climates. The flowers have a distinct clove smell and are peppery.
Toothache Cress - (Acmella oleraceapreviously known as Spilanthes oleracea)
🔥☀️🌤👍🌼🍸🤤 🥀This intriguing plant goes by a variety of names; toothache plant, paracress, Sichuan buttons, buzz buttons, tingle flowers and electric daisy. Eating the flowers produces a numbing sensation, some people also report increased salivation and a tendency to make salty foods taste more so. It can be grown as an annual in many areas but can be perennial in zones 9-11.
Vegetable Hummingbird- (Sesbania grandiflora)
🌳 🔥🌼🍃🍸This fast growing tree produces edible flowers, leaves and shoots.
Zinnias - (Zinnia spp.)
☀️🌤😎🌈🍸🎂🥀These warm season cut flower powerhouses come in a wide variety of cheerful colors. They do well in the hottest part of the Summer when other flowers have lost their oomph. Cut just the petals from the blooms as the sepals and the white ends of the petals may be quite bitter. They look great sprinkled over tacos or mixed into drinks and salads.
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.