Please Don’t Eat the Daisies: Dining on Your Garden’s Flowers

Mar. 08, 2023


“You are what you eat” is a familiar adage. If that viewpoint makes sense to you, why not add flowers to your diet? Flowers are serene and lovely and we all can use a bit more serenity and beauty in our lives. Let’s also consider our gardens’ beautiful blooms for their flavor and health benefits. 

There are two basic groups of edible flowers, those that are nutritious adding proteins, vitamins and/or minerals, and those recognized as herbs adding flavor and aroma. Both types of edible flowers provide specific taste enhancements and many offer potential health benefits. Since herbs are more familiar, I’ll save them for last, and begin with the nutritious flowers.

Nutritious Bloomers


Borage: also known as Starflower, has a slightly sweet flavor, a cross between honey and cucumber, if you can imagine that. Both its flowers and leaves can be eaten to treat coughing and sore throat. Borage can be used in salads, or in soup.


Chamomile: a pretty, daisy-like flower with fern-like foliage, has a mildly sweet and earthy flavor that makes a popular tea or smoothie. It can also enhance baked goods and other desserts. For centuries, chamomile has been used to treat fever and cure all sorts of conditions, including anxiety, stress, and insomnia.


Dandelions: those ubiquitous beauties get a pretty bad rap. Every part of the dandelion is edible—roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. Their flavor is honey-like, and they provide antioxidants that help protect us from heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.


Daylilies: are hardy and prolific; you’ll have no trouble gathering unopened buds. Fry or stir-fry the buds. The result will be a sweet, crunchy fritter that provides a healthy dose of protein and vitamin C. Daylily fritters treat constipation as well as colds and swelling/edema.


Hibiscus: those colorful, blousy beauties taste sweet and slightly acidic, and can be brewed as tea, and added to salad or cocktails for beauty and taste. Hibiscus can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


Honeysuckle: is a bit tricky. As the name suggests, the flower has a sweet taste, which makes excellent tea or lemonade. The blossoms can even be used as a sugar substitute. But a caution: Do Not Eat the berries, leaves, or stems which are toxic!


Hostas: our grow-anywhere darling of low-maintenance flower beds is more than just a pretty puff of variegated green. Their leaves and the mid-season flowers are tasty, rather sweet. In addition to being a great source of minerals, hostas’ leaves reduce inflammation and pain. Caution: While hostas leaves are good for people, they are toxic to dogs and cats, causing vomiting and diarrhea.


Marigolds: are those easy-to-grow, little fuzzy-headed blossoms. Not only do they repel mosquitoes and other insects, but they can be made into ointments for abrasions, burns, and wounds, and as extracts they help with fever and ulcers. Their scent and flavor are citrusy, and, get this, the petals can be ground and used as a substitute for saffron (which you may not keep on hand.)


Nasturtium: once known as Indian Cress, have colorful autumnal blossoms of yellow, orange, and gold. They taste peppery and spicy when garnishing a salad. Indigenous people recognized the nasturtium’s antibiotic properties as well as its ability to stave off scurvy. (Just in case you haven’t kept up with your vitamin C.)


Pansy: these tough, little cuties are more than just a pretty face. They add a minty zing to fruit salad or cocktails. You might try mixing them with a soft cheese for a delicious spread. Pansies provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.


Roses: Rose petals can add a floral flavor and fruity scent to jam, tea, soup, and even popsicles. You may find you’re a bit less stressed and even losing some of those unwanted pounds…okay, ounces perhaps. 

That list is not exhaustive, but it does cover quite a few flowering plants that are easy to grow as well as attractive in flowerbeds. But, let me offer just a few of the herbs that are attractive in the garden as well as in the soup or on the roast.

Blooming Herbs


Chicory: has a long and honorable resume as a filler with or replacement for coffee beans. During both World Wars, chicory was the only “coffee” available to folks at home, while the real stuff was kept for the soldiers and sailors. Chicory leaves can be brewed as tea, and the delicate, blue flowers are a pretty addition to salads. Medicinally, chicory can calm an upset stomach and cure constipation, among other uses.


Fennel: has a rather bulbous base with feathery greens, and every bit of the plant is edible. It tastes something like licorice. It’s an antioxidant to keep us young. Fennel seeds can be chewed to aid digestion.


Lavender: lovely in our gardens, it can be equally endearing in our kitchens. With a citrusy flavor, lavender is recognized for its capacity to ease anxiety and help with sleep or depression. Serve it as tea or add to baked goods and sorbet. Beautiful for the eye and good for the body.


Sage: is sweet and savory. Crushed it can be sprinkled on almost any dish, and it’s particularly tasty on eggs. Sage is noted to reduce blood sugar levels, sharpen memory and brain health, lower cholesterol levels, and provide antioxidants to keep us feeling younger.

Finally, I feel I must add a quick warning about eight flowers you definitely SHOULD NOT EAT; they’re toxic

• Azalea     • Daffodil     • Dogbane     • Hyacinth    • Hydrangea     • Oleander     • Wisteria

While I trust that the information in this article is accurate, if you or others for whom you might prepare food have any likelihood of an allergic reaction, do not use flowers or plants in your food preparation. It is possible that ingesting any plant or plant product could cause illness.


About J. F. Booth

I am a writer and educator.
This entry was posted in Nature, Published articles, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Please Don’t Eat the Daisies: Dining on Your Garden’s Flowers

  1. In the Boy Scouts we had to learn about edible plants. I tried it once for 24 hours, and…well…I couldn’t wait for that breakfast with bacon and sausage.

  2. says:

    Wow!! I found this to be fascinating!! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to forward this to Jen and Jeff. I think they’ll really enjoy it also. I always remember when we went to lunch with Tom and Sharon one summer, Tom’s lunch came with a pretty flower on the plate and that was the first thing Tom ate. I had never seen anyone eat a flower before. Who knew they can solve so many health issues??!!


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