I had the opportunity to meet and work with the very talented Chia-Ming Ro of Coastal Homestead in early 2021. One of my garden beds was just not happy. Plant leaves were yellowing, we weren’t sure if we were under or over waiting, and had so many questions as newfound garden nerds. Our goals were to crack the code to year round edible gardening, sprinkle in as much seed starting as possible, and figure out our soil. Enter Chia-Ming. She popped in and gave us so many tricks, and as a lady at the top of the edible gardening game, she knew just what to do. Just a few weeks later, our troublesome bed was looking glorious! I decided to ask Chia-Ming to share some of her favorite tips for edible flower gardening with us today! Hope you find morsels for your personal gardening projects! Take it away Chia-Ming!
Hello! I’m Chia-Ming, owner and founder of Coastal Homestead, and I’m thrilled to let you in on my favorite edible flowers to decorate with and how to take care of them! I chose my top 6 based on ease to grow, color, beauty on its own AND cluster. Also, most of these should be popping up in your garden now (or soon!)
First off, I want to start with some general tips for growing edible flowers:
- Grow in full sun to achieve the most blooms.
- If you are in a very hot climate (or attempting to grow during peak summer temps), try growing the plant in a full morning sun and afternoon part sun spot to protect the delicate blossoms.
- When growing anything edible, always grow using organic materials, non-toxic containers, and avoid use of pesticides.
- Often once a plant flowers, the rest of it is deemed inedible because it’s flavor changes and texture becomes tough
Chamomile is top on my list because it is such an easy and versatile plant! You can use the flowers as cut flowers, tea, or decorate with them fresh. Chamomile can be started from seed or seedling and will self-seed easily year after year.
I find Pansies/Violas to be so cheerful! The flowers look like little smiling faces and the colors are often so bright and cheery. Pansies/violas prefer cooler weather and should be planted either in the fall or early spring. If you live in a mild climate, you can try to grow them year round.
My next fav, Cilantro, is a very polarizing plant! Did you know there is a small percentage of people who find that cilantro to taste like soap? They’re missing out because the entire plant is edible and the flowers are to die for. The plant produces petite white flowers in clusters, like a small version of queen Anne’s lace. The blossoms do taste slightly like the rest of the plant so this may not go over well for those who don’t care for the herb. To grow cilantro leaf to eat, it’s ideally grown as a fall/spring crop. However, to grow it for the flowers you can grow it year round since we want the plant to bolt. Also, the seeds that form after the flowers bloom is the fresh form of coriander.
Did you know that Radishes produce flowers? “Radish” usually refers to the root of the plant, however it also produces a very dainty flower. There are 4 petals and it usually is a variation of white and purple shades. They have a slight radish flavor and add a wonderful spicy bite to salads. Once the radish flowers, the root won’t be edible. Radishes are best grow from seed because they grow quickly and do not like their roots disturbed.
Another unexpected edible flower are the flowers of plants from the Mustard family. You are probably most familiar with Kale. When kale flowers, they produce abundant small yellow flowers on a main stem. Kale eaten as a vegetable is a fall/spring crop, but if you’re going for flowers, you can grow it year-round! Plants from this family are heavy feeders, so grow it in well drained fertile soil.
Last but not least, another super easy to grow edible flower: Arugula! Most know it as a peppery salad green or leafy topper to pizza. The flowers are white pinwheels with reddish purple veins and are a lovely way to dress up salads and soup. Arugula is also easy to grow, so you can sow seeds ¼” deep in well drained but consistently moist soil.
Before I go, I’ll leave with you a few other favorite edible flowers that didn’t meet my criteria for today’s post:
- And of course Roses!
I hope you’ll try a few of these out, please reach out to me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or IG (@Coastal_Homestead) and let me know!
For more edible flower ideas, check out page 240 in the Sweet Laurel cookbook.