Growing edible flowers in your garden

Edible flowers add a colourful spark and fresh flavour to dishes, are the basis of health-giving teas, and create delicious cordials and preserves, writes Karen Sutherland.

From garden to plate – borage, heartsease, calendula, nasturtiums, dill and cornflowers.
Photo: Kirsten Bresciani

Flowers have often been seen as symbols of beauty, love and happiness, and this celebration of nature can be brought to the table as well. Learning to add more flowers to our lives and our plates can tickle our tastebuds and lift our spirits. 

A couple of our favourites:


Borage (Borago officinalis)

Quick and easy to grow in a sunny spot in the garden, borage is an annual that is generous with its sky-blue, cucumber-tasting flowers. This plant is best sown directly in the garden from seed, in spring and again in autumn (it also self-sows readily), growing quickly to around 50–60 cm tall. 

Uses: The flowers look delightful and taste good in salads, can be floated in drinks, or frozen in ice cubes.

Society garlic_Karen Sutherland

Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea

Society garlic is widely planted by landscapers for its long-flowering and hardy growth habit, but few people know that the showy purple flowers are also edible. Plants grow into tidy clumps around 30cm high and wide with the flower stems reaching 10cm or so above the foliage. The leaves are also harvested but not the roots. There are also varieties with white flowers, smaller growth habits and variegated leaves.

Uses: The flowers may be seen on TV cooking shows as fancy garnishes, but in the humble home kitchen they lend a subtle garlic taste and a splash of colour to salads.

More edible favourites:

Agastache ‘Sweet Lilli’

Carnations & pinks: Dianthus species

Chives: All types

Dahlia species

English lavender Lavandula officinalis

Fruity sage Salvia dorisiana

Lawn daisy Bellis perennis

Rocket Eruca vesicaria


Snow pea: Pink and purple flowers look best, but white also edible

Wild rocket Diplotaxis tenuifolia 

Zucchini: All types


Karen Sutherland has written all about edible flowers in issue #122 -- December 2020/January 2021. You can purchase our latest issue at MyMagazines -- you can also get back issues!


Karen Sutherland also has a special interest in native plants. Here's a couple of her articles:

Warrigal greens

Discovering native herbs

And if you're interested in native bees:

How to get the native bee buzz



By: Karen Sutherland

First published: December 2020

Related topics

Gardening Basics, All Gardens, edible flowers, borage, Calendula, nasturtiums, Dill, cornflowers, Issue 122 -- December 2020/January 2021, What to plant now