Growing vegetables in your garden? How predictable. Sure growing your own food like tomatoes and cucumbers is planet-friendly, but gorgeous blooms add color to your greenery and many of them can be eaten, too. Add one or all seven of these nosh-worthy flowers to your garden and you’ll soon have something new to experiment with in your kitchen – and an easy way to woo your foodie friends.
In the garden: This pretty and tasty summer flowering annual is easy to grow if you have a sunny garden. Green thumbs say, “Be nasty to nasturtiums; they like it.” The soil should be very well-draining, a bit dry and surprisingly, nutrient poor. If you have too much nitrogen in your soil, you won’t get any blooms.
On the table: The flowers are spicy, with a bit of sweet nectar found in the spur. Even the leaves are edible – they have a peppery taste similar to watercress. Try adding them to salads or sprinkle them over veggies. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try nasturtium soup.
In the garden: A unique addition to your garden, borage grow two to four feet tall with purplish-blue star-shaped flowers. They’re easy to grow, preferring full sun yet tolerating some shade. However, because they get blown around easily, it’s best to protect them from wind.
On the table: With a cucumber taste, borage blooms are a nice addition to salads or as a garnish on canapes. Because they’re so light and fresh – not to mention strikingly beautiful – try freezing these pretty blooms in ice cubes to serve in summer drinks.
In the garden: If you’re up for the challenge, lavender can be a beautiful and fragrant addition to your garden, but they’re not the easiest flowers to grow. Try growing lavender in a small to medium-sized pot keeping it in the sun as much as possible and being careful that the soil isn’t too damp due to humidity in the summer or cold in the winter.
On the table: The flowers will have a perfumed flavor of well, lavender. They’re also sweet and spicy offering a nice addition to savory dishes like rice pilaf or sweet recipes like lavender shortbread. A word of caution: Don’t go overboard, the flavor can be intense.
In the garden: Great for warm climates or the summer season, hibiscus plants prefer partial shade to full sun. Watch out for soggy pots – hibiscus plants are prone to root rot. And you should watch out for insects like aphids.
On the table: Hibiscus flowers have a tart cranberry flavor and since they’re so showy, they’re a fun drink addition whether in a cocktail like a wild hibiscus mojito or a cinnamon-infused hibiscus iced tea.
In the garden: A variety of easy-to-grow violas including Johnny-jump-ups, pansies and sweet violets are edible. They flower best in cooler climates, so if you live in the Pacific Northwest for example, this may be an easier bloom to cultivate.
On the table: Violets offer a sweet, wintergreen or perfumed flavor. They’re a popular bloom for salads, but many make candied violets or use them in sweet recipes such as raspberry and violet tartlets or violet flower jelly.
In the garden: Before citrus plants grow fruit, they blossom. Little lemon trees can be purchased at a nursery and are easy enough to grow indoors year round as long as you have a lot of light. One caveat, for a better chance of fruit inside, you’ll need to play the part of bees, pollinating flowers with a paintbrush or cotton swab.
On the table: Because they’re heavily-scented, these sweet blooms, like lemons, should be used sparingly so as not to overwhelm a dish. They’re best as an edible garnish or for making citrus waters.
In the garden: Just about anyone, even kids, can grow sunflowers from seeds. The only thing you need to consider is where to plant your sunflowers. They need full sun and will grow tall – some varieties reach heights over 10 feet – so choose a spot with a fence to support towering stalks or plan on adding stakes later.
On the table: While you probably typically think of eating sunflower seeds, the petals can be eaten, too. They tend to have a bittersweet flavor, but steaming makes them more pleasant. Better yet, steam unopened buds – their flavor is very similar to that of an artichoke. You can also try making pickled sunflower buds.
Images: CommandZen, OliBac, Fabrice Rose, Sansreproache