Rare Exotic Plants For The Backyard Garden – Part 9 – Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers?  You Mean There Are Actually Flowers We Can Eat?

Edible flowers - Nasturtiums

Well – sho‘nuff, sweet pea!  Choose wisely – but, there are loads of edible flowers to be had!  Now, be aware that you can’t chow down on just any ole bunch of posies – ‘cause some of them will make you sick – or worse, you may end up “pushing up daisies” as in “down for the last count” – or, to put it more bluntly, “deader than a doornail!”

However, there are a few that will make you want to add them to your landscaping plan because, not only do they taste good but, they look good as well!  Some flowers are even great to intersperse throughout the garden – to keep some of those dastardly bad bugs from movin’ in and obliterating your veggies.


Baby Sun Roses

Edible flowers - Baby Sun Rose

Such a beautiful ornamental plant this Baby Sun Rose is!  Originating in South Africa and commonly grown in Australia, the Mediterranean regions of Europe, and a variety of states in the U.S.A. – including California, Oregon, and Florida, this flower has a hidden talent – it is entirely edible!

The Baby Sun Rose is a ground cover flowering plant – so prolific and easy to grow – that, at one time, it caused the state of California to issue a red alert against it as an invasive plant!

Before it became a food source, it was highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory abilities.

Depending on the season – and the age of the plant – the taste of the leaves and flowers might range from bland to a bit tart.  Harvest new, young, and tender leaves – and lightly sauté or stir fry them – just as you would spinach.  Matter of fact, their flavor reminds me of Warrigal Greens (also known as New Zealand spinach).

Mature leaves can be an offense to the palate – unless they are blanched to remove excessive oxalic acid before cooking.  You can throw some flowers in with the leaves – or, save the petals for topping off a gourmet salad.

Edible flowers - skygardenLG Baby Sun Rose plants.

Butterflies and bees flock to the Baby Sun Rose for some reason – and, even though they are most commonly grown in Hardiness Zones 9 through 11, they can grow outside in any location that stays above freezing.  Otherwise, grow them in a pot and keep them indoors during the colder months.

You can trust skygardenLG to provide a great starter Baby Sun Rose plant.  It comes in a 2 inch pot – and, as the plant grows, you can produce more plants from cuttings that will root very quickly in their own pot.


Wax Begonias

Edible flowers - Wax Begonia

I never woulda thunk that I would ever eat my picturesque begonias.  But, the bitter, lemony flavor of the wax begonia is a great complement to meals – especially fish – since most of us use lemons when we eat fish anyway.

The leaves are fleshy and they – along with the flowers – can be eaten raw or cooked.

Caution:  If Begonias soak too long in water, they can add a bit of a swampy kind of flavor to dishes such as pasta, soup, or dip.  Also, anyone suffering from kidney stones or rheumatism should check with their doctor before ingesting them due to the oxalic acid content.

Edible flowers - Outsidepride Wax Begonia seeds

Combining yogurt with sour cream, garlic salt, and a touch of soy sauce – creates an amazingly flavorful dip to smear on wax begonia petals – as an appetizer.

Throw some young leaves and flowers into a salad – or, top off a juicy hamburger – to create a unique culinary experience!

It is easy to grow Wax Begonias in most Hardiness Zones – especially, zones 3 through 10.  They can be grown outside in a flower bed or indoors – in a container pot.

Outsidepride has non-GMO Wax Begonia seeds in an economical 5,000 seed packet.  These seeds are high rate germinating heirlooms – with most of them popping up through the soil in 2 to 4 weeks at least.



Edible flowers - Marigolds

Another citrus flavored – and slightly spicy – flower to chow down on is the Marigold flower.  Besides being a great raw topping for salads – sautéed or stir fried with meats and veggies – or, turned into an herbal tea – the Marigold – due to the antioxidants it contains – has valuable medicinal benefits.

Drink the flowers as a tea – as a treatment for digestive tract issues – acid reflux, gastritis, etc.  It can reduce both stomach and menstrual cramps.

Dry the leaves and flowers and then:

Make an extract – which will help deal with coughs, fevers, and sore, raw throats.  Put a few drops in ears to combat infections.  Put it on your skin to provide relief from insect bites, sunburn, acne, dry skin, blisters, etc.

Mulch it into a salve – for fungal infections that develop anywhere on your body – even around the eyes and mouth.  Want to shrink hemorrhoids?  Give it a try.  Have a yeast infection?  Put some “down there” to help make it go away.  Apply it around an open wound and it will speed up healing.

People have been using Marigold flowers to treat illnesses for a thousand years!

The Marigold also makes a great bug repellent.  Add a few drops to a spray bottle to keep nasty insects at bay.  Put yellow Marigold plants in the garden to keep squash bugs away from your cucumbers and zucchini.  All colors of Marigold flowers make a great garden companion plant – because, they also repel whiteflies and nematodes – while attracting good insects like ladybugs and bees!

Edible flowers - Outsidepride French Marigold flower seedsEdible flowers - Burpee Snowball Marigold seeds








Outsidepride offers seeds to create beautiful tangerine colored French Marigold flowers.  They are easily grown in Hardiness Zones 3 through 10.

If you would like to grow some white Marigold flowers, go to Burpee for their Snowball Marigold seeds.  These are the whitest Marigolds you can find on this planet – and the plants get about 2 feet tall – producing 3 inch wide flowers.



Edible flowers - Nasturtiums

Every garden I’ve ever grown has always had Nasturtiums in residence – growing throughout the various vegetables.  Their taste is a little like watercress – crunchy – with a uniquely signature peppery flavor.  The first time I consumed a salad with some Nasturtium flowers, buds, and young leaves, you could have knocked me over with a feather – I couldn’t believe how vivid the peppery taste was!

I also like to stir fry the stems – as part of a meat and veggie dish.  My mouth is watering right now – just thinking about it!  And, along with the stir fry, I may turn the flowers into appetizers by adding a dollop of cream cheese filling!

Save the Nasturtium seeds because, they can be ground up and made into a pepper substitute.  You won’t be able to tell the difference!

Health-wise, Nasturtiums are an excellent way to add a variety of vitamins and minerals to your diet – calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, to name a few.

It is a wise move to propagate Nasturtiums throughout the garden as companion plants!  They’ll ward off veggie killing insects like squash bugs, aphids, beetles, and cabbage loopers.  And, at the same time, Nasturtiums will attract predatory bugs that will happily eat any of those bad bugs that dare to show their faces in the area!

Nasturtiums can grow anywhere from Hardiness Zones 1 all the way up the ladder!  Other than in a dry, arid desert, they can be happy all over!

Edible flowers - Outsidepride Nasturtium SeedsEdible flowers - Burpee Alaska Mix Nasturtium seeds








Take a look at Outsidepride for the best deal – a 1 pound package of Nasturtium Seeds.  The flowers will be 2 to 3 inches across – in red, orange, and yellow.  Tip:  Soak the seeds for a day or so in water.  It helps break the protective coating.  Then, plant directly into the ground.  Never transplant Nasturtiums because, the roots are too sensitive.

For some tasty Alaska Mix Nasturtium seeds, Burpee has what you need.  The flower colors are gold, orange, salmon and mahogany.  The plants will reach a height of just under a foot.


This Is Not Just Flowery Speech

I’m not just whistlin’ Dixie here.  I’m tellin’ you that not only can some flowers be appealing to look at – many – like Baby Sun Roses, Wax Begonias, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, and a host of others – are lip-smacking to munch on, too!

Comment or email me for thoughts or advice.  I’m always just around the bend in the road!


Jim, the Lifelong Gardener


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