Edible Perennial Flowers
Just a flower garden? Think again.
One of the least-mentioned topics in home food production is growing edible flowers. You cannot live on them alone, of course, but if your homeowner’s association or condo board has a restriction on front-yard vegetable gardening, you can plant these and no one will be the wiser. Also, putting such vegetation in your front yard can be part of a “gray man defense.” Planting flowers in your flower beds hardly makes you look like a Doomsday Prepper.
So what should you plant? You’d be surprised.
Let’s start this series with perennials. Not only are perennials by their nature a permanent part of your landscape, but they will pick up the earliest sun through the latest sun, with no seeds to worry about. Here are some of the best.
- For northern gardeners, Violets (Viola odorata) have violet, pink, and white flowers with a sweet to slightly sour flavor. You can sprinkle them all over your yard. They tolerate partial shade.
- White clover can also be scattered in a northern gardener’s lawn (gardeners in hot climates should avoid it as a food, as it can be toxic.) Select the whitest flowers, the freshest ones, for eating. The dried fresh flowers make a tea with a hint of vanilla flavoring. The leaves are edible but not tasty: in other words, famine food. Just make sure to use fresh leaves and flowers – they should not be allowed to ferment.
- One of my favorites is Bee balm (Monarda didyma) lovely flowers with a tea-like flavor that's stronger than the leaves.
- Not only are Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) good to cook with, they also have white, lavender, or purple onion-flavored flowers that are great in salads or for flavoring vinegar or oils. The plants give a nice bit of vertical texture to borders with their short, dark-green clusters of shoots.
- Tulip flowers (Tulipa spp.) come in a wide range of colors and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. The tips of the leaves are bitter; cut them off before serving. (Despite reports of the bulbs being edible I would be desperate indeed to eat them, as the yellow part of the bulb—the center—is poisonous.)
- Did you know that Dianthus (Dianthus) —also known as “Pinks”—have edible pink, white, and red flowers that have a spicy, clove-like flavor?
- Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) flowers are edible. They come in a wide range of colors with a bland to slightly bitter flavor.
- Those starry white flowers in florist’s bouquets —Baby's breath (Gypsophila sp.) –can be grown at home. They come in white or pink and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
I’d be careful about daylilies. The original daylily, and orange variety, is entirely edible, but there are so many crosses with inedible lilies to get new colors that I’s avoid them. However, if you can get some original Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) the flowers are delicious.
All hosta parts are edible. Asians steam or stir fry the early shoots. I've ordered several. I have planted some daylilies that I think are the right ones! I did check varieties online. We'll see!