When most of us think about fresh food from the garden we’re thinking about fruits and vegetables, but it turns out there are also a lot of flowers you can eat. Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Schrock says that in addition to growing spices like chives, basil, and dill in your garden, many common garden flowers are also edible. Flowers like impatiens and petunias make great additions to salads and can beautifully decorate deserts because of their vibrant colors. Day lily buds can be cooked similar to asparagus or zucchini as a mild vegetable substitute.
Schrock says most flowers taste best fresh but can be dried and stored for several days in a plastic baggie. Flowers such as pansies and rose petals can be preserved by freezing them in ice cube trays, making a great addition to a cool, summer drink. Garden flowers can be candied by painting the petals with an egg whites and water mixture before sprinkling with very fine sugar.
Schrock highlights the importance of identifying exactly which flowers in your garden are safe for consumption. He also says to make sure your flowers have been grown in your own garden and to be conscious of conditions the flowers have been in before plucking them for a meal.
“Daylilies are edible but most lilies are not—so there can be confusion there. Likewise, the garden pea flower is edible but sweet peas are not edible, so make sure you know what flowers you’re dealing with. Obviously, you want to avoid the use of pesticides on your flowers so it’s best not to use flowers that you’ve just purchased from a garden center or nursery because they may have been sprayed.”
Later in this Talk of Iowa conversation, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron and DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh join host Charity Nebbe to answer horticulture questions from listeners.