Flowers can be eaten - U of I Extension

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Flowers can be eaten

This article was originally published on August 8, 2016 and expired on August 8, 2017. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

From fried squash blossoms to spicy nasturtiums on a bed of fresh salad greens, an entire nutritious and beautiful meal can be just outside your window and you didn’t even know it!  When horticulturists say, “Eat your garden,” they mean it literally. Eat the leaves, fruits, stems, seeds and even the flowers. Mother Nature gives us some of the most delectable treats in the form of flowers. Learn which plants we grow primarily for ornamental value that can also be a delicious addition to our dinner table. Many common flowers that are growing in your backyard are delicious and can be incorporated into your summer. A few ideas include adding flowering chives and oregano to butter or making a pizza with candied pansy flowers and nasturtium petals on top. Some of the most commonly eaten flowers currently blooming now include anise hyssop, bachelor button, basil, bee balm, borage, calendula, fennel, garlic, scented geraniums, lavender, lemon verbena, mint, nasturtiums, petunia, pineapple sage, radish, rose, rosemary, scarlet runner bean and squash. There are a few rules to eating flowers:

  1. Only eat flowers you know are edible
  2. Only eat organically grown flowers (this excludes florist flowers).
  3. Eat only petals. Remove pistils and stamens.
  4. Do not feed to children under 4 or if you have asthma or severe allergies.

 The most common flower we eat is broccoli, but did you know you can eat daylily buds?, Extension Horticulture Educator Jennifer Schultz-Nelson suggests trying deep fried daylilies, as they are not only edible, but also delicious! They remind Schultz-Nelson of asparagus, with a hint of green beans. Try this out at home with the following recipe:Deep Fried DayliliesIngredients

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold carbonated beverage (we used lemon-lime soda)
  • 1 to 2 pounds of fresh daylily buds*


  • In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together until fully mixed. Mix in 1 cup of cold carbonated beverage. There may be a few lumps in the batter.
  • Use a deep fryer or frying pan with oil at a temperature of about 350 F to 375° F.
  • Hold the daylily buds by the stem and dip each one into the batter. Drop each battered bud into the oil carefully to avoid splashing. Fry for about one minute on each side. Remove from the oil and drain each daylily bud on paper towels.
  • Eat warm. We tried ours sprinkled with salt, seasoned salt, or powdered sugar. We also tried dipping some in balsamic vinaigrette.

*Be sure that you have identified your daylilies correctly. Other species of lilies can be toxic.

Source: Kelly Allsup, Extension Educator, Horticulture,

Pull date: August 8, 2017