12 Useful Edible Flowers Sustainable Gardeners Should Plant Instead of Ornamentals

12 Useful Edible Flowers Sustainable Gardeners Should Plant Instead of Ornamentals

The city girl in me sees the beauty in the task of foraging for edibles. I imagine myself wandering around the woods with my two kids in tow, each lugging a basket for ‘shopping’ in the wild. For some reason, foraging becomes even more exciting when the edibles you are scavenging for are flowers. They’re exotic and unique, and a fascination that I’m sure began with our early ancestors. Still, they don’t make a regular appearance on the dining table and we’re hoping to help change that.

Gardening has become a favourite pastime during the pandemic lockdown. Spending time growing your own food and edible flowers also ensures food resilience and is also a low-impact option in times of climate change – more so than growing ornamentals, plants that are only in your garden to look good and nothing more. Plus edible flowers are packed with plant nutrients and have so many health benefits and medicinal and practical uses.

So here are some beautiful and useful edible flowers to add to your garden:


Add a pop of color and electrifying flavor to your cookery with these pretty and tasty edibles.


Nasturtiums come in tropical colors such as orange, red and white. Its flavor mimics that of a watercress with a slight peppery kick to it. You can grow them in pots and it will bloom (and bloom so abundantly that it will start to trail) from Summer through Autumn.

With these gorgeous flowers in your garden, you can expect that pollination action in your yard will definitely improve as it will attract a lot of bees and beneficial insects that are important for pollinating. You can also grow nasturtiums alongside other fruit bearing plants and vegetables and it will act as a ‘trap crop’ and attract garden ‘pests’ and hopefully stop them from attacking your other edible plants.

Here are some nasturtium recipes you can try.

Nasturtiums growing alongside lavender. Credit: Flickr.


These small, star-shaped, blue beauties have a refreshing cucumber flavor and it is native to the Mediterranean region but has been naturalized in other regions around the world as well.

It is easy to grow as it can cope with almost all types of soil including soils that are low in nutritional content. It can last in your garden for years as it self-sows readily when left to set seed. So why else would you want to grow this starflower? You can eat it raw, cooked as a garnish or mixed in drinks. It has wonderful medicinal properties often used for fevers and coughs.

Tickle your palate with these borage recipes.

Borage flowers are distinctive. Credit: Flickr.

Johnny Jump Ups

These edible flowers self-seed readily and that’s how it got the nickname Johnny Jump Ups because they seem to pop out of the ground, in places where you never planted them. Also known as viola, wild pansy and heartsease, Johnny Jump Ups, these are some of the easiest edible to grow! They thrive in moist soil but won’t tolerate it when the condition is soggy and can survive in a wide range of temperatures.

They can make quite the tasty garnish and plate decoration. Try this jam recipe if you’re keen to use them up.

Johnny Jump Ups are also known as viola, wild pansy and heartsease. Photo: Patrick Standish.

Zucchini blossoms

One of the most popular edible flowers is the zucchini or squash blossoms and these can be found all over the world wherever these plants are grown Just pick the flower before the zucchini or squash starts growing or you can wait a little longer and you may be lucky enough to pick both flower and produce together. Even if you are a novice gardener, these can easily be grown in containers or raised garden beds.

Check out the many ways you can cook and present these little wonders in your kitchen.

Zucchini blossoms. Photo: Flickr.


Knowing the many things you can do with edible flowers establishes a deeper relationship with the plant. You tend to grow them with the utmost care and in return, your edible flower garden will bloom and blossom in abundance.


Honeysuckle flowers can be eaten or mixed in drinks but please be warned- the berries are poisonous and you should avoid them. The highly perfumed scent of the flowers smell amazing and catching a whiff of its sweet aroma marks the start of summer. The scent alone can intoxicate you with awesome memories.

Try the honeysuckle vodka to savor the scent and the flavor of this edible flower.

Honeysuckle flower. Photo: Flickr.


Known for its calming effect, the chamomile flower and leaves are often brewed in pots for teas. It is good for your digestive system and has properties that aid in reducing stress.

Here are five ways you can make chamomile tea.

Chamomile flowers and leaves are ideal for a calming tea. Photo: Hans Splinter.

Rose petals

Ever wonder why there are rose petals in your bath when you surrender to a day of pampering at the spa? It makes your skin glow! It hydrates and revitalizes your body from the inside out with antioxidants. If it’s good enough for Cleopatra, then I would want to incorporate rose petals in my bath too. Live like a queen by simply adding rose petals in your water or maybe a glass of aperitif. And what most people don’t realise – rose petals are edible!

Rose water is used for cooking; rose petals adorn many cakes and rose martinis are the bomb.

Rose petals are edible. Photo: Corina Rainer.

Hibiscus flower

The hibiscus flower has a very tart flavor and its taste is likened to that of a cranberry. It is packed with antioxidants that can help lower your temperature when your down with the fever, help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and even soothe a sore throat. While you can eat it straight from the plant, many people make jams, sauces and relishes with it.

If you’re feeling chilly, try this hibiscus rose latte to help keep you warm.


Edible flowers that are packed with health benefits is one way to take responsibility of your health and that of your family’s, while keeping the yard oh so beautiful.

Moringa flowers

Moringa or malunggay trees are found across Philippines and many subtropical regions of Asia, Africa and South America. Although they are usually planted outside, they can also be planted in pots or containers. The leaves are used in a lot of cuisine and is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables there is. However, not everyone knows that the flower can be eaten too. These little creamy white beauties can taste like mushrooms and can be brewed into a strong medicinal tea that can treat urinary tract infections, the common cold and as a supplement for lactating women to help increase their breast milk. 

Moringa flowers. Photo: Hafiz Issadeen.


Calendula or pot marigold flowers come in yellow, orange or gold colors and makes a great multipurpose plant in permaculture gardens as they are beautiful, medicinal and super easy to grow. It is commonly used as a first-aid remedy for cuts and wounds because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.

Make this calendula salve and carry it with you wherever you go.


Lavender buds

I use my lavender in everything – for skin care, tea and diffusing the oil for calming effects. It is packed with a wealth of health benefits and is considered a treasure in the mint family of plants.

You can easily grow them in pots and containers as long as you maintain the right temperature, sun exposure and water level and placed in areas where they can receive full sun at least eight hours everyday.

Try this easy home lavender recipe for cuts and burns. Keen to make lavender oil? You’ll love our post How to Make Lavender Oil at Home In 10 Easy Steps.

Lavender is a multifunctional flowering edible. Photo: Janine Joles.


This popular flower is considered sacred in Hinduism, and is the national flower of India. It is also cultivated for its scent. It is a symbol of peace, purity and prosperity.

The lotus can be consumed in its entirety but it is also known to help in the management of fever, insomnia, sunstroke, cough, colds and many more. 

This sacred flower can also be used for feminine problems such as excessive white discharge. Find recipe for treatment here.

There is a world of edible flowers beyond these listed here and some we’re sure that have yet to be discovered. They’re also ideal for sustainable gardens and should be the first choice for water-wise flower gardeners, particularly in drought affected places such as Australia. Grow them in your gardens, enjoy their beauty as they blossom and maximize its endless uses.

Keen for more plant inspiration? Check out our post #Plantstagram: 10 Green Instagram Accounts to Follow for Plant Inspiration.

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Cover image of rose petals by Karolina Grabowska.

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