5 Delicious Edible Annuals to Sow for Late Summer

edible flowers include cornflowers

5 Delicious Edible Annuals to Sow for Late Summer

It’s fair to say that most of us don’t make enough of the flowers in our garden. We might admire them from the kitchen window or pop a chosen few in a vase, but we don’t often think of throwing a them into a salad or sprinkling them over dessert. However, many of the colourful plants that grace our garden pots and borders aren’t just beautiful – they’re also delicious. So, if you fancy brightening up your dinner plate with some colourful edible annuals, now is the time to start sowing your seeds.

1. Nasturtiums

A great all-rounder, you can eat the leaves, seed pods and flowers of the nasturtium plant. If you like the pepperiness of watercress or rocket, a generous handful of nasturtium leaves in a fresh garden salad will be right up your street. The large bright flowers have a gentle sweetness and add a bold splash of colour to dinners and desserts.

2. Cornflowers

That delicate blue not only looks great on a plate, but cornflowers have a lovely light spicy flavour with subtle notes of clove. They look fantastic sprinkled over a celebration cake or added to your favourite tipple, as the blue of the flowers can also be used as a food dye.

3. Calendula (Marigold)

A vibrant addition to soups, frittatas or salads, the deep yellow/orange petals of the calendula plant have a slightly bitter, peppery taste. Like cornflowers, the colour can transfer from the petals to give dishes a subtle saffron tinge.

4. Dahlias

These tubers not only produce dazzling blooms, but the starchy, sweet, potato-like root is pretty tasty too. A favourite of the ancient Aztecs, over the centuries these plants have become known for their decorative rather than nutritional properties, but can make a nice change from the humble spud.

5. Hibiscus

The flowers of the Hibiscus can be eaten raw but are commonly used to make preserves or tea. The tea often consists of the dried flowers, leaves and pods of the plant and has a tart, refreshing citrus flavour. 

Making the most of edible flowers in your garden

As well as planting specific edible annuals , you can also use the flowers of herbs like chives, basil, fennel, dill, sage, basil and borage in your cooking. Not only do they look great, they’re great for adding a more subtle herbal flavour to your food.

Of course, it should be noted that many flowers are not edible and could be potentially harmful if ingested. So, there are a couple of golden rules to remember:

  • If you’re not sure whether a flower is edible or not, always check a reliable source.  If you can’t find out – don’t eat it!
  • Home grown flowers are best. Don’t eat commercially grown flowers – you don’t know what they’ve been exposed to during the growing and shipping process.
  • Be mindful that some wildflowers are protected by law and picking them may also impact a delicate local eco system. In some cases they may also have been exposed to agricultural chemicals or other pollutants, so be wary.

If cooking with homegrown edible annuals appeals to you, here are a few edible flower recipes for inspiration. And if you want to see how a Harvst greenhouse can help you bring your plants on, check out our Harvster explainer video.