The Best Edible Flowers for a Vegetable Garden
This is a list of the best edible flowers for a vegetable garden. What does that mean?
This list of edible flowers all have practical benefits for your vegetables and fruits, whether as companion plants, providing nutrients for the soil, acting as pest deterrents, and/or for attracting beneficial insects to your garden. I’ve also included a ton of edible flower recipes in this list in order to give you some inspiration in the kitchen!
Once upon a time, I used to think of a vegetable garden as a practical thing that gave me food. Back then, there was no room in my vegetable garden for flowers. I saw flowers as a waste of money.
I thought this way because I had a super strict budget. Any money that I was going to spend was going to provide me with something practical.
Of course, I still found joy in my vegetable garden filled with only vegetables, but my heart said something was still missing.
I soon learned that there are some great beneficial flowers for a vegetable garden, either because they are good companion plants, help provide nutrients to the soil, or they encourage beneficial insects to the garden.
Following that logic, I learned about some other great plants to add to my garden because they had edible flowers. Score!
This is a list of the best edible flowers for your vegetable garden. I chose flowers that were practical as well as pretty. So they are either great for your vegetable garden somehow, or they are already culinary herbs or veggies you might consider growing.
Adding beauty to your veggie patch is a wonderful idea. It will help you enjoy your time there as well as make a happy and safe haven for beneficial insects, butterflies, and bees.
I thought long and hard about this list of edible flowers for a vegetable garden. However, if you think I missed any important edible flowers for a vegetable garden, feel free to let me know in the comments below!
Bonus: Whenever possible, I included some delicious recipes and tips to use the edible flowers in the kitchen. I hope they inspire you to create some delicious edible flower culinary dishes!
The Top Three Best Edible Flowers for a Vegetable Garden:
I personally consider these three edible flowers as the BESTS options for a vegetable garden. If your garden has limited space, or your garden budget is restricted, I suggest focusing on these three edible flowers for your vegetable garden.
I LOVE borage. Honestly, the most important reason that I love it is because borage has blue flowers and blue is my favorite color.
Borage has fuzzy leaves and stems and it is a wonderful pollinator plant, especially for the bees. Bees LOVE borage.
Borage is also an awesome beneficial plant for your garden: it deters tomato hornworm and Japanese beetles; it attracts bees; and it attracts black flies to itself so the flies leave other plants alone.
Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, runner beans, and strawberries. It is even said to stimulate the growth of strawberries.
Borage flowers taste kinda like cucumber. The pretty blue flowers also look very pretty in your food.
Here are some delicious and creative ways to eat borage flowers:
- Gently Steamed Fish with Cucumber, Borage, and Tahini Sauce
- Borage and Ricotta Crepes
- Cucumber Salad with Borage Flowers
- Almond Fairy Cakes with Candied Borage Flowers
- Blue Blossom Salad: Blue Cheese, Borage, and Grilled Chicken Salad
Nasturtiums are one of my favorite edible flowers in the garden. It is super pretty, and you can get trailing varieties or more bush-type varieties, depending on your needs. The leaves AND the flowers are gorgeous: the leaves remind me of lily pads and the flowers remind me of orange/yellow mini-irisis. It’s also SUPER easy to grow and lasts all summer and fall.
Not only is it easy to grow, pretty, and completely edible, Nasturtium is also an awesome companion plant for your vegetable garden.
It can deter aphids, cucumber beetles, whiteflies, and squash beetles, and thus makes an excellent companion plant to: cucumbers, squashes, carrots, radishes, potatoes, and…yeah, pretty much everything.
Nasturtium also attracts aphids, which helps keep them away from vulnerable vegetables.
I ALWAYS plant nasturtium by my squashes: bees love nasturtium flowers, so their flowers attract the bees near my squashes. Sometimes, squashes struggle with pollination problems, so I like to attract the bees to my squash plants by enticing them with nasturtium. And, of course, nasturtiums also deter squash beetles, so it just makes sense to plant them near my squash plants.
You can eat both nasturtium leaves and their flowers. It has a spicy-peppery taste; the taste kinda reminds me of radishes and arugula mixed together.
Here are some delicious and creative ways to eat nasturtium:
- Roasted Carrots with Nasturtium
- Nasturtium Salad with Peaches and Pepitas
- Nasturtium and Sumac Hot Sauce
- Nasturtium Soup
- Tomato Nasturtium Salad with Dates and Pistachios
- Nasturtium Pesto
- Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves
Calendula, also known as “pot marigold” (note: NOT the same thing as marigolds from the local hardware store!), is SUPER easy to grow.
When we have mild winters with very little frost, my calendula becomes a semi-perennial: it doesn’t die in the winter and stays full of blooms, and the plants get even larger with even MORE pretty yellow/orange/red blooms by the next summer.
However, when we have normal winters with some snow and hard frosts, my calendula dies and then it is just an easy-to-grow annual.
Calendula is an awesome plant for your vegetable garden. Not only can you eat the petals, you can also dry the petals to make calendula oil and herbal salves and remedies for your skin (for example, check out my gentle healing salve recipe).
Calendula is also an awesome companion flower for your garden. For example, calendula has a sap that attracts aphids and whiteflies to it, which means that those pests leave your sensitive vegetables alone.
At the same time, the calendula flowers attract not only pollinators like bees and butterflies, but also ladybugs and lacewings, which coincidentally like to eat the aphids and whiteflies. Score!
Calendula petals can range in taste from spicy to bitter to peppery to tangy, and their bright yellow/orange/red look can brighten up your recipes.
Some people compare the taste of calendula petals to saffron and it is is often used as a saffron substitute.
Here are some delicious and creative ways to eat calendula flowers:
- Calendula and Thyme Shortbread Cookies
- Arugula and Roasted Pear Salad with Calendula Blossoms
- Vegetable Broth with Calendula
- Calendula Paella
- Calendula Citrus Salad
- Dandelion and Calendula Breakfast Egg Cups
- Calendula and Honey Funnel Cakes
- Raw Calendula Beauty Bars
More Awesome Edible Flowers for a Vegetable Garden:
After the “big three” edible flowers for a vegetable garden, there are plenty of other options for edible flowers. This list could include pretty much ALL the other edible flowers out there, but I was very interested in tightly focusing on the BEST options of edible flowers for a vegetable garden.
These options for edible flowers are mainly culinary herbs, many of which you probably already grow in your garden patch. In general, not only are these herbs great to grow for the kitchen already, they also have strong scents that can deter pests from your vegetables and fruits. The flowers from these herbs also attract beneficial insects and pollinators, which is another reason why I have included them in this list.
Besides growing basil for some delicious pesto, I grow basil as an awesome companion plant. It has been said that basil helps boost the flavor of tomatoes if they are planted near each other.
And, as mentioned above, basil’s strong scent deters pests and the basil flowers attract pollinators.
Basil leaves are not the only edible part of the plant: you can also eat basil flowers! So the next time you forget to prune your basil, don’t despair, you can still use the basil flowers in the kitchen, too.
Here are some great ways to use basil flowers in the kitchen:
- Basil Flower Vinegar
- Basil Flower Infused Olive Oil
- Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato, and Basil Flower Salad
Chive flowers have a more mild onion taste than the foliage.
It is also a great companion plant in the garden: not only are the pretty flowers attractive to pollinators, the strong onion scent also deters pests.
Chives are often planted with strawberries, because of the nutrients they add to the soil. Check out this post from Tenth Acre Farm to read more about that.
Here are some creative ways to use chive flowers in the kitchen:
- Chive Blossom Oil and Vinegar
- Chive Blossom Butter Recipe
- Garlic Scapes and Chive Flower Pull-Apart Bread
Similar to basil, oregano is a common culinary herb in your garden that has a strong scent that can help deter pests as well as flowers that attract pollinators to your garden.
If you forget to prune your oregano and it gets flowers on the plant, no worries! You can eat oregano flowers, too.
Here are some delicious ways to use oregano flowers in the kitchen:
- Oregano Flower Infused Vinegar
- Oregano Flowers Fried Rice with Tomato and Garlic
- Blue Fish with Oranges and Oregano Flowers in Cartoccio Recipe
Unlike the other culinary herbs in this list, you actually grow lavender for its’ flowers in the first place.
Lavender is a wonderful edible flower for a vegetable garden because the strong scent repels pests and attracts pollinators.
There are many culinary recipes out there that use lavender, but here are a few of my favorite lavender recipes:
- Herbs de Provence Salt Recipe
- Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies
- Honey Lavender Pots de Creme
- Lemon Lavender Scones
- Honey Lavender Hot Chocolate
Honorable Mentions for Edible Flowers for a Vegetable Garden
The seven mentioned above are, in my opinion, the BEST edible flower options for a vegetable garden. However, here are a few more options of edible flowers for your culinary garden.
8. Anise Hyssop
9. Bee Balm
11. Squash Blossoms
12. Snow and Snap Pea Flowers
(just eat the pea flowers before they become peas!)
13. Arugula Flowers
(they have a delicious peppery taste!)
(I had to include sunflowers, even though you eat the seeds…)
If dandelions are growing in your garden, don’t throw them away! Dandelions have great medicinal benefits.
Here’s how to make dandelion infused oil.
And you can eat them, too! Here’s a great list of Dandelion recipes.
List of Edible Flowers for a Vegetable Garden: My Thoughts…
This post started out as a casual question floating around in my head about what would be the BEST edible and beneficial flowers for my vegetable garden.
It turned into a month-long research-heavy project. There are lots and lots of edible flowers, and everyone has different opinions about them. Also, I really wanted to include tasty recipes that USED the edible flowers, so that I (and you) could find some culinary inspiration. I mean, what’s the point of growing nasturtiums for edible flowers if you have zero ideas how to eat them?
So yeah, my brain is fried. It was a lot of work. Phew.
I hope this article helped you figure out what edible flowers to grow in your garden. If I missed any important ones, please let me know in the comment section below! I will eventually research them and possibly add them to the list.
More Gardening Tips:
- 10 Best Plants for Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden
- How to Plan Your Garden
- High Quality Seed Companies for the Organic Gardener
- The Ultimate Gardening Guide