Gardening isn’t just about growing vegetables and herbs; edible flowers are a delightful and colourful addition to your garden. They beautify your space and also add unique flavours to your dishes. Let’s explore the top five edible flowers you can grow in containers and how to incorporate them into your cooking. 

1. Nasturtiums

Nasturtium edible flowersWhen to Plant

Nasturtiums are best planted in the spring, after the last frost. In the UK, this is usually around late April to early May.

Soil Requirements

Nasturtiums prefer well-drained soil, but they're not fussy about soil quality. In fact, too much fertility can reduce their flowering. A general-purpose potting mix will do the trick.

Care and Maintenance

Nasturtiums are easy to care for. Ensure they receive plenty of sunlight, water them moderately, and allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering.

When to Harvest Nasturtiums

Harvest the flowers when they are fully open, as these have the best flavour. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, with a peppery taste similar to watercress.

How to Use Nasturtums

Add nasturtium flowers to salads for a vibrant pop of colour and a spicy kick. They can also be used as a garnish for soups and canapés.

Plant Protection and Common Issues

Nasturtiums can attract aphids. To protect your plants, consider using a Micromesh Easy Tunnel. This will keep pests at bay while allowing sunlight and rain through.

2. Calendula (Marigold)

Marigold edible flowersWhen to Plant Marigolds

Calendulas are best planted in the spring or autumn. For container gardening, early spring is ideal.

Soil Requirements

They prefer moderately fertile, well-drained soil. A mix of potting soil with a bit of compost works well.

Care and Maintenance

Calendulas need full sun and regular watering. Deadheading (removing spent flowers) encourages more blooms.

How to Harvest Marigolds

Pick the flowers when they are fully open. The petals can be used fresh or dried.

How to Use

Calendula petals add a saffron-like flavour and colour to soups, stews, and rice dishes. They can also be used in salads and as a garnish.

Plant Protection and Common Issues

Watch out for powdery mildew and aphids. Using Haxnicks' Easy Fleece Tunnel can help protect your calendulas from these common pests and diseases by providing a barrier while maintaining good airflow.

3. Pansies and Violas

Edible flower pansy violaWhen to Plant Pansies & Violas

Plant pansies and violas in early spring or autumn. They can withstand cooler temperatures, making them perfect for the UK climate.

Soil Requirements

They thrive in rich, well-draining soil. A high-quality potting mix with added compost is ideal.

Care and Maintenance

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Pansies and violas enjoy partial to full sun.

How to Harvest Pansies & Violas

Harvest the flowers as soon as they open. Both the petals and the whole flower can be used.

How to Use

Pansies and violas have a mild, slightly sweet flavour. Use them to decorate cakes, salads, and cocktails.

Plant Protection and Common Issues

Slugs and snails love pansies and violas. Laying beer traps or surrounding your pots with copper tape both work to keep the worst of the pests away.  If the problem gets really bad then we find collecting the offenders on a trip out at dawn or dusk, while the lawn is still dewey, and disposing of them will solve the problem.   

4. Borage

borage edible flowersWhen to Plant Borage

Borage should be planted in early spring after the last frost.

Soil Requirements

Borage prefers well-drained soil but can grow in poor soils. A sandy or loamy mix works well.

Care and Maintenance

Borage needs full sun and moderate watering. It's a hardy plant that doesn't require much attention.

How to Harvest Borage

Harvest the flowers just after they have fully opened. The young leaves are also edible.

How to Use

Borage flowers have a cucumber-like flavour. They are perfect for adding to summer drinks, salads, and desserts. The leaves can be used in soups and salads.

Plant Protection and Common Issues

Borage is relatively pest-resistant but can sometimes suffer from powdery mildew. Ensure good air circulation and use a Micromesh Easy Tunnel to protect young plants from early spring chills and maintain a healthier growing environment.

5. Chive Blossoms

Chive edible flowersWhen to Plant chives

Chives can be planted in early spring or late summer. They thrive in cooler weather, making them perfect for the UK’s spring and autumn.

Soil Requirements

Chives prefer rich, well-drained soil. Use a mix of garden soil and compost for the best results.

Care and Maintenance

Chives need full sun to partial shade and regular watering. They’re fairly low maintenance and can thrive with minimal care.

How to Harvest Chives

Harvest chive blossoms just as they begin to open. The flowers and stems are both edible.

How to Use

Chive blossoms have a delicate onion flavour, ideal for sprinkling over salads, soups, and potato dishes. They can also be infused into vinegars for a gourmet touch.

Plant Protection and Common Issues

Chives are generally resistant to pests, but aphids can occasionally be a problem. Picks these off when seen,

Edible Flowers make great companion plants in your vegetable garden - read more about Companion Planting here.  

General Tips for Growing Edible Flowers in Containers

Wall pot holder plant stand to display indoor plants flowers herbsChoosing the Right Containers

When growing edible flowers in containers, it’s important to choose pots that are large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system. Ensure your containers have adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Haxnicks' Vigoroot Pots are an excellent choice as they encourage strong, healthy root growth and are designed to maximise plant health.

The Tall Wall pot Holder with our Bamboo Pots is also fantastic for smaller plants and adds a splash of colour wherever you place it. 

The Vigoroot Plant Tube is the perfect solution if you are growing in a small space too  or want your edible flowers close to the kitchen so you can grab some when needed.  The Plant Tube has the same air pruning as the bigger Vigoroot pots but in a compact shape that will fit anywhere and be used year after year.


Soil and Fertilisation

While the soil requirements vary slightly between different types of edible flowers, a high-quality potting mix enriched with compost is a good general choice. Avoid using soil from your garden as it may not drain well in containers and could contain pests or diseases. Fertilise your plants regularly with a balanced, organic fertiliser to support flowering and overall plant health.

Watering Edible Flowers

Consistent watering is key to growing healthy edible flowers. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged. During hot weather, you may need to water your containers daily. 

Protecting Your Plants

Edible flowers can attract a range of pests and are susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew. Regularly inspect your plants and remove any affected foliage to prevent the spread of disease. If you are growing in the ground using protective barriers like the Easy Micromesh Tunnels can shield your plants from pests and harsh weather conditions, promoting healthier growth.

Harvesting and Using Edible Flowers

The best time to harvest your flowers in the morning when they are freshest, just after the dew has dried.

How to harvest flowers

Nasturtium edible flowers on a dishUse clean, sharp scissors or garden shears to cut the flowers, and immediately place them in a container of water to keep them fresh. Before using the flowers in your cooking, rinse them gently under cold water and pat them dry.

Incorporating edible flowers into your dishes is a fantastic way to add flavour, colour, and a touch of elegance. From nasturtiums and calendula to pansies, borage, and chive blossoms, these flowers offer a range of tastes and decorative possibilities. Whether you’re garnishing a salad, infusing vinegar, or adding a unique twist to desserts, the edible flowers from your container garden are sure to impress.

Sarah Talbot