How to Grow Spectacular Edible Flowers Indoors

CREDIT: PHOTO BY IVE ERHARD / UNSPLASH
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There are plenty of edible plants and flowers you can grow indoor. Learn how to grow spectacular edible flowers indoors with our ultimate guide!

Edible flowers make a beautiful and dramatic splash on the plate. Many edible flowers have interesting flavors, too, so they delight your eyes and your tastebuds. A flower garnish can elevate a simple meal into something quite special.

Petals don’t travel well, though, and they have a short shelf life. They bruise and wilt if you look at them sideways, which explains why edible blooms are often hard to come by. You might be lucky and find high-end packaged salads containing flower petals in your grocery store.

The delicate nature of edible flowers makes them the perfect crop to grow at home. You can pick your blooms fresh at the exact moment you need them and bring them to the table in peak condition.

History

Throughout history and across cultures, edible flowers have been used in food and drink.

Apicius, a Roman cookbook from the 4th or 5th century, includes recipes for puddings and wines flavored with rose petals. Apicius raves about a recipe for fried frog’s legs with fennel flowers. “The fennel blossom garnish is a startling stroke of genius.”

Fried frog legs may not be to your taste, but many ancient cultures used edible flowers as a trendy modern chef might. Aztecs stuffed and fried squash flowers were a favorite. Peruvian Incas used nasturtiums flowers in salads.

Health Benefits

There are real health benefits to eating flowers. Many contain substantial amounts of trace elements we need in our diet. A recent study from the University of Genoa in Italy found edible flowers analyzed can be considered a good source of essential elements.
The scientists found flowers contained useful amounts of trace elements, including:

  • Copper: important for building red blood cells and neural pathways.
  • Manganese: helps in antioxidant production and bone formation.

Edible Flowers That Thrive Indoors

Virtually any plant can thrive indoors as long as you provide plenty of light. Providing enough light is easier than ever with modern grow light options. 

Even so, some plants are best suited to an outdoor garden — space-hungry plants in particular. Nothing is stopping you from growing a zucchini vine or a rose bush indoors. Just be prepared to give up a lot of space to your new housemate. 

Fortunately, there are lots of compact plants that will give you beautiful, edible blooms.

  • Borage: Fuzzy leaves and vivid blue flowers. The young leaves work well as a spinach substitute. The flowers have a delicate cucumber flavor and make a spectacular garnish.
  • Chives: Chives are a versatile herb that grows an edible flower. Chives blossom is a delicate shade of purple and has a very mild onion flavor. 
  • Cornflowers: Beautiful deep-blue petals with a slightly spicy flavor and a hint of cloves.
  • Nasturtiums: Bright red and yellow petals with a slightly mustardy spice to them.
  • Violets: They’re violet in color and have a mild sweet flavor. 

Giving Indoor Flowers Enough Light 

With indoor plants, providing enough light is always the number one challenge. Even the brightest windowsill only gets a fraction of the light of a sunny outdoor garden. That may be enough to keep some herbs alive but certainly right for thriving plants. This is doubly true for flowering plants, which typically need even more light than leafy greens. 

That’s where grow lights come in — they supplement whatever sunlight you have and give your plants what they need to thrive. 

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about ugly lights that throw a garish purple light. Modern LED grows lights come in all shapes and sizes, and they give out a bright white light that won’t look out of place in your home. 

Knowing how to give your plants exactly the light they need can be a trial-and-error process. For dependable lighting “recipes” check out the guide I’m creating at brightgrow.co.

Choosing a Grow Light

For experimenting with grow lights, I highly recommend a standard screw-in grow bulb. These pack plenty of intensity and drop into any ordinary light fixture.

For grow lights to work effectively, they should be close to your plants’ leaves — usually within 1-2 feet. Light intensity drops off quickly as you get further from the bulb. 

You can use pretty much any kind of fixture of a lamp to install these grow bulbs. Just a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Avoid completely enclosed lampshades. Grow bulbs are powerful and put out some warmth. So, you need some airflow to keep everything cool. 
  • Make sure you can place your bulb within a foot or two of your plants’ upper leaves. Ideally, directly above your plants — plants will grow towards the light. 
  • Height adjustability is useful, so you can raise the light as your plants get taller. 

I like to use a hanging pendant (aka a swag light) to install my bulb. You can pick a light shade that fits your style. Plus, you get simple adjustability by raising or lowering the fixture. You don’t need any electrical work either — as you can get plug-in pendants. 

I’m a big fan of the GE 32W LED bulbs. In my tests, they provide the most plant-useful light. Plus, they’re quite affordable. Look for the “Flowering Spectrum” version — it provides a little more light in the red part of the spectrum, which flowering plants love. 

The GE 32W light hung at 18” will throw out a circle 10-12 inches across of good bright light. That’s good for one large container of plants or 2-3 smaller pots clustered together. Don’t try to cram too many plants under a single light though, they will shade each other as they grow, and spreading your lighting too thin is a recipe for disappointment.

Flowers in the Kitchen  

The simplest ways to include flowers in your diet are as a garnish or an infusion. A plate of salad with one or two edible blooms or a scatter of petals is a simple and beautiful dish. Or virtually any edible flower can be infused in hot or cold water for a subtly flavored refreshing drink.

If you want to get more adventurous with how you use flowers in the kitchen, there are plentiful recipes and techniques. Hibiscus chutney, rose petal sorbet, nasturtium pesto. The inspiration and flavors that flowers can bring to your cooking are limitless.

UP NEXT: First and Last Frost Dates by Location

Check out our Plant Care blog to learn more about different houseplants and tips on how to keep your plants alive and healthy.

Whatever houseplant you choose to transform your home into a lively oasis, you’ll definitely need a stylish planter to display your plant baby in. No matter what your style, there’s an Omysa planter that will be perfect with your garden and home’s décor. From ceramics to fiberstone, check out Omysa’s Shop and add it to your cart!

Patrick Dinnen

Patrick Dinnen

An amateur gardener who loves experimenting with edible plants under grow lights. Brightgrow.co.

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