Before you randomly pick flowers from your garden and serve it up for dinner, you would need to remember that some of these blossoms can be poisonous. It is essential to know which ones are actually suitable for consumption, and how to identify them. In this article, you will learn about the edible flowers you can grow indoors and how to take care of them, how to use these flowers in your meals, what are the benefits in eating these flowers, and what other things you can do with edible flowers.
People have been eating flowers since the dawn of the time. It may not be a common practice today, but there are still hundreds of places you can get a fresh salad with a bunch of blooms. Some of the flowers commonly consumed are the Butterfly Pea Plant, Arugula, Radish, Cress, and more.
Edible Flowers and How to Care for Them
As we know, not all plants are adaptable indoors. Here are some flowering plants that can survive indoor conditions and that produce edible blooms:
Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea)
There are dozens of varieties of peas, and most of them are edible. The snap pea, is most commonly grown indoors. Whereas the blue butterfly pea is just another variant that is quite popular due to the multiple benefits it can provide, and the light and fresh taste of the flower itself. The flowers bloom in abundance and can easily adapt to different conditions.
- These plants can adapt to full sunlight but will survive low-lit spaces as well.
- They are tolerant of neglect, so forgetting to water them once in a while, will be a non-issue.
- Water your plants moderately, make sure that the soil is moist and not completely wet.
- Starter seed can also be grown indoors. The germination phase takes about 15 to 20 days.
- The ideal temperature for these plants would be at 70 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Deadhead or pinch your plants regularly to promote blooming.
- The only problem with these plants, when grown indoors, is that they are technically vines, so unless you would want long lush vines around your space, you would need to constantly prune them.
- Place them in hanging baskets where they have access to at least 6 hours of sunlight. If possible, take them out every now and then.
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria spp.)
If you are a fan of these plants you would definitely love their blossoms. The reason why people started eating arugula blossoms is because the leaves of the arugula plant tend to be bitter, hairier, and a lot tougher during the summer. The flowers. however. are able to maintain the arugula’s original taste.
- With enough space the arugula plant can grow up to two feet tall. Smaller containers will still be enough, and will definitely give you the right size of leaves for your salad.
- The plant does not need deep soil to grow, you can simply use a shallow container and sow the seeds on the top layer of your potting soil.
- These plants are cold-weather crops since conditions indoors can be manipulated, you can surely succeed in growing these plants with no problem at all.
- Water moderately and avoid overwatering. Given that it thrives in cooler conditions, moisture retention should be fine.
- The flowers don’t take long to bloom, just be sure that it isn’t exposed to heat or too much humidity. This will cause the leaves to wilt, and the plant ends up giving all its energy to the wilted leaves.
Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)
Radish flowers have this mild radish taste to it, and they add a great flavor and texture to your salads. You can even enjoy eating them on their own since they are not as strong as actual radishes.
- Like arugula, the radish prefers cold soil as well. It does not do well in the summer, which makes it excellent in indoor conditions where there is an appropriate ambient temperature.
- You need to use rich loose soil so that the roots of the radish can expand freely.
- Keep the soil moist but never overwater your plant. Too much water will cause the roots to rot.
- Experienced gardeners recommend the use of hydroponics when growing radishes. It is both efficient and economical.
Cress (Lepidium sativum)
The flowers of the cress have quite an interesting flavor. Young flowers are tangy, while mature one can be quite spicy. It is pretty common to grow cress indoors, and it constantly sprouts and blooms.
This is another cool-weather plant that is not too picky about its soil. They can even grow on damp paper towels. One method that is highly recommended is to layer potting soil at the bottom of your shallow container and topping it off with paper towels.
- Place your plant by a sunny location where it has access to at least 4 to 8 hours of indirect sunlight.
- Water the container gently. The plants are pretty fragile, aggressive watering can damage your plant. They love moisture which is why you would need to frequently add more moisture but be sure not to drown it in water.
China Rose (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
Various countries consume the flower of the China rose cooked or pickled, while some prefer them raw and tossed in a salad. These flowers are highly toxic to dogs, so be sure to keep your plant away from pets just to be safe.
- One of the main reasons why China rose would not bloom indoors is because of sunlight. These plants are more accustomed to growing outdoors but they can definitely flourish indoors given that they have enough light. If your living space is naturally dim, it would be best to invest in red grow lights to encourage blooming. They need about 4 to 5 hours of light.
- You may also want to provide you plant with fertilizer. Indoors you would need half fertilizer strength.
- Prune your plant when it is indoors, that way it becomes lush and would bloom more often.
- Keep the soil of your plant moist but not soggy. It would be ideal to allow the potting soil to dry out halfway before watering, especially when kept indoors.
- Buds tend to drop in extreme conditions. If the temperature is too hot, or if it is too cold. If there is too much water or absolutely no water, your buds will definitely drop.
Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
These plants are often lush and healthy when grown outdoors, and the main reason is light. Indoor spaces would not allow it to have full light which restricts the plant’s growing potential, unless you decide to invest in a grow lamp, lavenders will not achieve its ideal size and color. The blossoms for this plant are used for a variety of things that include flavoring, garnishes, and beverages. If you are able to grow some at home, you can definitely enjoy the calming properties that are locked within its essential oils.
- This plants absolutely loves the sun, that direct sunlight would be the most ideal setting for them. But since indoor spaces do not have access to direct sunlight, your best option would be to place them in a bright space near a window that would allow it to soak in at least 4 to 6 hours of indirect light. If this is not possible, you may also opt to grow lights or even focus fluorescent lamps at least 6 inches away from your plant.
- It loves lean soil that easily drains. You can add one or two inches of limestone gravel and soilless mix on the bottom of your part to help drain the water out faster.
- Lavender plants thrive in moist soil, but is not fond of sitting in water. It is best to water your plant when the top soil is dry to the touch.
- Choose the variety of your plant well, not all lavender plants would thrive indoors. The French and English lavender varieties adapt to indoor environments better than others.
Mint (Mentha spp.)
All flowers under the mint family are edible. They are often used as garnish or stuffing because of its mildly and sweet flavor. One thing is for sure, growing mint indoors is very easy and it does not take a up a lot of space.
- Indirect light is the most ideal for mint plants, placing them in a bright spot with access to light for at least 4 hours would be adequate for their growth. If your goal is for your plant to blossom often, you would need to use red grow lights to promote flowering.
- Maintain the ambient temperature between 65 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at day time and 55 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
- Mint plants can grow in water or in soil. When in water, be sure to keep them in a place that has lots of sun. In soil, you would need to water them and keep the potting soil moist but avoid having them sit in soggy soil as this will promote root rotting.
- Humidity is quite important to this plant, you would need to mist the leaves or set a water-pebble tray to promote a more humid condition. During winter when the air is dry, you would need to make an extra effort to keep your mint plant alive and well.
- Fertilizers are not very necessary, but if you must add fertilizer, fish emulsion mixes would be the best. But be sure not to go overboard with the fertilizer. Too much can remove the signature flavor of the flower and the leaves.
How to Incorporate Edible Flowers in Your Meals
Most would often assume that these blossoms are only good additions to salads or just for aesthetics but, there are dozens of recipes you can actually try with these flowers.
There are a lot of baking recipes you can use edible flowers with. Some of the most common, yet sophisticated desserts require pea flowers or even marigolds. They are often baked in bread and used to top off donuts and cakes.
Jams and Other Spreads
With the proper process, you can effectively create jams out of your flowers. Roses are quite commonly used in jams and are even used in cakes. Depending on the variety and origin of the flower, it can give a certain spice to the spread.
Pea soups, pumpkin soups, and others would pair well with croutons or even a handful of crisp blossoms. Giving it a more sophisticated flavor palate.
Flowers like the Butterfly Pea is great for making tea, and it’s not even that hard to do so. Just soak the blooms in water and allow to sit until it reaches your preferred strength.
More often than not, these flowers are used for aesthetic purposes. They would definitely give your plate a splash of color making it more appealing to eat. By using flowers, you are definitely upgrading an otherwise plain dish.
The next time you want to try edible flowers, you can definitely try one of these options. Or just simply toss them in your salad with a splash of vinaigrette, and enjoy your summer salad with a little color and more flavor.
Benefits of Eating Flowers
They don’t just look beautiful and smell good, flowers, like any other plant source, have a lot of benefits when they are consumed. Here are a few benefits you may want to look out for:
- They Contain Antioxidants Based on the term itself, antioxidants inhibit oxidation from occurring. Various researches and studies have been made that proves that antioxidants protect our cells against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are produced when you are exposed to tobacco or radiation, which encourages the growth of malignant tumors.
- Lowers Bad Cholesterol Levels Generally speaking, there are three subgroups of cholesterol and only one of the three are deemed as good. By consuming flowers, just like produce, we are able to regulate the amount of bad cholesterol that increases due to the other food we consume.
- Improves Complexion Regular intake of some flowers like the China rose, has been effective in improving complexion and hair health as well. Consumption of the flowers of this plant is able to reduce occurrences of acne and even dandruff. It may also be applied on the skin topically for a more visible result.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties Thanks to the high flavonoid content of flowers, they have anti-inflammatory properties which improve blood flow and in turn improves your overall health. Reducing inflammation can make the lives of individuals suffering with arthritis better.
- Upgrade Flavor Profile of Your Dish Some flowers, like those we have mentioned above, have quite a reputation in improving the flavor of your dish. In addition to this, some flowers even add texture to the food you eat, making it more enjoyable.
- Improve Digestion Ancient Chinese remedies actually used a variety of edible flowers in their solutions. These blooms have a variety of enzymes that help ease digestion. Nowadays, you can easily find dried versions of these flowers and mix them in your afternoon tea.
- Natural Pain Reliever Due to the fact that some flowers possess anti-inflammatory properties, they are also able to relieve pain. Some blossoms are even able to surpass the strength of over-the-counter solutions like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Since they are from an organic source, you don’t need to stress about the side effects it may have on your liver or kidneys.
- Contains Vitamins and Minerals You can either brew flowers or even grind them into a paste ready for consumption. Lavender is a great example for this, it is high in Vitamin A and is packed with lots of minerals that will help with your body’s natural processes.
What Other Things Can I Do with Edible Flowers?
Flowers that are safe to eat, also have a variety of other uses that may be quite handy. Since they are edible, they are completely safe to use around your home or on yourself. Here are a few other things you can use these flowers for:
By extracting the essence of these flowers using a variety of methods, you will be able to produce a good amount of essential oils that you can use on your skin or place in your diffuser. The use of essential oils has been popularized recently, but this method has been around for centuries.
As we know, some flowers have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to smelling nice and having great color, these blossoms can definitely improve your skin and hair condition. It is important to test them on your skin before actually using to be safe in case of any allergic reactions.
Ointments or Lotions
By grinding or crushing whole flowers with a bit of beeswax, coconut oil, or olive oil you can make your own ointment or lotion. These have been quite effective in moisturizing and resolving skin issues that are often caused by inflammation or bacteria.
Eating or drinking flowers may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s great to know that these are options that you may want to explore. By being able to grow your own flowering plants, you can make your homemade dishes extra special.