Growing Edible Flowers in Central Florida

Edible Flowers in Central Florida

Growing edible flowers is a great way to introduce color and flavor to foods.

Equally important, flowers serve a dual purpose as beneficial bug and pollinator attractants. If you have a bug problem in your garden your ecosystem is out of balance. Try planting more flowers which bring more beneficial bugs which are predators of your problem insects.  Spring is a great time to grow edible flowers in Central Florida. The goal is to establish the plants before the summer heat. If a spring start isn’t possible you can start in the fall(Sept). Supplies, seeds, and pre-started plants are available at Root Grow Bloom. If we don’t have everything you need we can order it in or direct you somewhere to get it, just ask!

In order to propagate your edible flowers you will need a few things:


INDOOR STARTS IN FEBRUARY

Hydroponically – 10″x20″ Propagation tray and a slab of 98ct Rockwool (This will let you grow hydroponically or in soil).

Dynagrow is an inexpensive nutrient that can be used to water the rockwool every other watering at 1/4 tsp/gal once the second set of plant leaves have formed.
Place a few seeds in each moist rockwool cube hole and place under growlight.

Soil – 10×20″ Propagation tray and (18) 3.5” Sq Pots if you prefer to direct sow seeds into soil. Happy Frog All Purpose Soil is great to fill the pots and won’t require fertilization during this stage. A good rule of thumb is to bury the seed 2x as deep as the size of the seed.

OUTDOORS START IN LATE MARCH

Use the 10″x20″ Propagation tray with rockwool or 3.5″ sq pots just make sure to drill holes in the tray to let it drain excess water. (Happy Frog Soil recommended).

*Plants are ready to transplant when the roots are visible at the bottom of the Rockwool Cubes or 3.5″ Square Pots.

The final destination of your edible flowers will be your hydroponic system, in ground garden, or 2-5 gallon pots filled with a potting soil like Happy Frog Soil will be adequate for most edible flowers.

IN-GROUND GARDEN

Amend the garden with compost 1-2″ thick before or after transplanting. Mushroom or worm castings can be purchased from Root Grow Bloom or you can make your own compost at home. Two weeks after planting apply a Granular Fertilizer once a month like Happy Frog Fruit and Flower at 1/4cup/ sq ft around the plants canopy/drip line.

HYDROPONIC SYSTEM

Transplant into system from rockwool. You will continue to use the Dyna Grow Nutrient at 1/4 tsp/gal increasing 1/4tsp weekly until you get to 1tsp/gal and continuing this for the life of the plants.

EDIBLE FLOWER VARIETIES


TURKS CAP
Grows up to 12′ or larger, can be pruned and kept smaller. Large Red flowers that “hang”. Grows pretty much anywhere. Mild/no taste. Perennial. My favorite as an Ornamental! Grown from Cuttings.


SURINAM SPINACH
Tropical. 1-3′ plant. Prefers full sun or dappled sun. Mild edible leaves and small pink flowers. Perennial (spreads easily). Typically grown from Cutting.

NASTURTIUM
Sprawling/spreading plant up to 1′ tall. Prefers cooler weather. Leaves and yellow/orange flowers have a Wasabi flavor! My favorite tasting! Grown from Seed. Annual.

CALENDULA
1-2′ plant with orange/yellow/white flowers. Sweet Scented, low flavor. Annual. Medicinal. Grown From Seed.

Grows up to 2′ in full sun and well drained soil. Small violet flowers on a spike with a sweet slightly cucumber taste. Annual . Medicinal, can improve soil if tilled in.

VIOLETS
6-12″ plants that prefer low light and moist areas. Small Purple Flowers low flavor. Perennial. Typically grown from division/starter plants.

MARIGOLD

1-2′ plants. Full sun good drainage and airflow. Many size and types with colors ranging from yellow to red. Mild sweet/skunk-y taste. Annual. Grown from seed.

SAFFLOWER

1-2′ plants. Can be planted in high density well drained soil and full sun. Makes orange/red flowers that have a unique flavor some compare to Saffron the most expensive herb. Annual. Grown From Seed.

DILL/FENNEL

3-4′ plants. Full Sun well drained soil but keep well watered. Flowers and pollen taste like Dill/Fennel. Dill is an annual but fennel kept trimmed can be grown more than 1 season. Grown From Seed.

RADISH

1′ plants but 2-3′ flower Spike. The flowers and the green seed pod of the radish are spicy like a radish. Full sun well aerated soil. Annual. Grown from Seed. Recommend directly sowing.

HIBISCUS

3-9′ plants. Well drained soil full sun. This plant is susceptible to nematodes so plant in an area with high organic matter content. All hibiscus flowers are edible. The Leaves, flowers and pods of the variety Roselle/Sorrel stand out because they have a lemon zesty flavor. They can be used to make medicinal/holiday drinks, eaten raw in salads, made into cranberry dressing. Annual. Grown from seed.

DANDELION
6″-1′ plants. Dry full sun well drained soil. The leaves and flowers are edible both less bitter when young. Annual. Grown from seed.

BASIL

2-4′ plants. Full Sun/well drained soil watered semi frequent. Flowers taste like the basil type grown. Can be eaten, infused, or made into tea. Harvest early so seeds haven’t formed. Some varieties of basil are Perennial most are annual. Grown From Seed.

GARLIC/ONION
1′ plants. Full Sun. Flowers Taste like the plant but slightly more mild and sweet. Harvest before seeds form. Directly Sow seeds in garden. Most are annual.

JASMINE

1′-4′ plants. Partial shade/filtered sun. Usually started by cutting of known varieties. Floral/perfume aroma/taste. Great for Tea. Can be grown as a houseplant. Some varieties have bigger flowers than others. Perennial.

SQUASH
2′-6′ plants. Full Sun, good air flow, well draining soil. All Squash Blossoms are edible. We have an issue with Squash Boring worms/caterpillars in the squash. A male squash flower doesn’t make a squash so you can make use of them as well. Delicious battered and cooked. Annual.

ORNAMENTAL SWEET PEA/BLUE
Vining can be grow in partial shade. Plant is toxic but flowers can be used to dye tea and foods a dark violet color. Annual.

SUNFLOWERS
1′-12′ Sunflower Varieties range from dwarf to massive. Full sun. Colors range from Red-Orange. The Petals need to be removed to eat. Jerusalem Dwarf is a great dwarf variety with big flowers. Mammoth and Titan are good “monster” types. Annual.

Enjoy the extra color and flavor that edible flowers will bring to your salads and other meals. It has made a great difference in my garden. I hope it does in yours too.

by Mike Grace
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