Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

18 Edible Flowers You Can Grow in Your Garden

These plants will help your garden look beautiful and make great additions to your favorite summer meals.

1 / 18


Calendulas are sometimes called “poor man’s saffron” and petals can be used as a saffron substitute while cooking. Yellow calendulas, or pot marigolds, have a less powerful flavor but can liven up meals because of their vibrant color. Too much calendula can make your meal taste bitter, so use in moderation. Check out the health benefits of calendula for soothing skin and more.

2 / 18


Borage is an annual flower distinguishable by its hairy stems. Flowers are typically blue but can also be pink or white. Borage petals are similar in taste to cucumber, and can be used in salads or to garnish a drink.

3 / 18


Nasturtium flowers make an excellent addition to many dishes because of their bright yellow color. This annual flower has an intense watercress or peppery flavor that makes it great to pair with cold soups and salads, or foods with a blander taste. You can also use large blossoms as an attractive bowl for accompanying condiments or sauces.

4 / 18


Daylily blossoms have a slightly sweet flavor similar to sweet lettuce or green beans. Both the blossoms and the younger buds are edible, and can be eaten in pastas or salads. To make them easier to eat, cut into strips. It’s important to eat daylilies in moderation, as they can act as a diuretic or laxative. Be sure you’ve properly identified the flower before eating, as not all lilies are edible.

5 / 18


Violets can provide added beauty when arranged on plates as a garnish, but can also be eaten with the rest of your meal. The annual flowers have a refreshing wintergreen flavor. Freeze them into ice cubes to create a refreshing beverage or mix them in with cake batter or cookie dough to give the flavor an extra kick.

6 / 18


Several different types of rose petals are edible, though their flavors range based on the variety. Darker petals are typically richer in flavor. Use petals as a garnish on salads or desserts, or even as a topping on finger sandwiches.

7 / 18

Bee balm

Bee balm is a member of the mint family and has a taste like oregano and mint. It can be used as an oregano substitute in fruit and regular salads. It can also taste faintly citrusy, and the plant is sometimes called bergamot after the bergamot orange.

8 / 18


Mums range in flavor from being slightly spicy to extremely pungent. This perennial plant should be grown in the sun, and only the petals of the flower should be eaten because the flower base has a very bitter taste.

9 / 18

Tuberous begonias

Tuberous begonias make for a great addition to many meals because their beauty can make a dish look more elegant and appealing. The leaves, petals, and stem can all be eaten and have a sour citrus taste. Begonia stems can be used as a substitute for rhubarb as well.

10 / 18


Cornflowers have a beautiful and vibrant blue color, making this annual flower an enviable addition to gardens and meals. The flowers have a clove-like flavor and can be used as garnishes. They are also often used in the making of tea blends.

11 / 18

Dandelion flowers

Though dandelions may not be the most desirable gardening flower, they can be utilized for culinary purposes. The flowers can be picked when young and will have a sweet, honey-like taste that is delicious both raw and cooked. Young leaves are also tasty. Avoid picking older flowers, as they may have a bitter taste.

12 / 18


Lavender buds contain an essential oil that makes them a sweet addition to desserts and teas. Leaves can be used as well but because they do not contain any oil, they will be less effective. Lavender is also known for providing natural anxiety relief.

13 / 18

Scented geraniums

The flavor of scented geraniums is typically dependent on variety and fragrance. The petals of these flowers can keep drinks fresh and beautify desserts.

14 / 18

Signet marigold

Signet marigolds, or golden marigolds, make beautiful garnishes and can also be used as a saffron substitute.

15 / 18

Squash blossoms

Make the most of your squash plant by making use of the blossoms as well as the vegetables. Squash blossoms will taste faintly like squash, and can be battered, fried, or used in soups.

16 / 18


Young sunflower buds taste a bit like artichoke, and can be steamed as such. Once the flower ages and opens, they begin to resemble chrysanthemums in taste. Avoid the bitter-tasting base of more mature flowers.

17 / 18


Tulip flavors vary based on the variety, but the general flavor is similar to sweet lettuce, while the petals resemble cucumber in texture.

18 / 18


Dianthus or carnation petals are very sweet, making them ideal in desserts or for livening up bland salads. When working with dianthus, cut the petals to remove the white base, as it has an unpleasant bitter taste.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest