Sourcing edible flower petals doesn't have to be confusing or difficult! As a floral baker and self proclaimed flowervore I want to share where we get safe edible flower petals for cookies and cake decorating.
From a savory edible flower salad to cake decorating, sourcing flowers is easy - but we'll share how we find flowers to buy safe for human consumption to add a beautiful garnish or fresh flavor safely. Adding florals to our desserts is how we add the beauty of garden flowers effortlessly, the perfect personal touch.
Edible flowers have been a part of our culinary tradition for centuries, and today many want use them to add an elegant touch when garnishing dishes. The problem many face is wondering WHERE and WHAT flowers to use. And be sure to visit our edible flower category for beautiful recipes that use flowers!
Whether you're inspired to decorate your wedding cake with blooms, or candy some rose petals, or make some floral ice cubes we're sharing the inside scoop on how and where to source them.
And while it's easy to find dried edible flowers online to add into your cake batter for their unique flavours, most people are looking for fresh edible flowers that can be used for decoration. Once you start using edible flowers, you'll start wanting to use them as cocktail garnishes, cookies or salads and make them next level.
Edible flowers have increased in popularity
So you want to make sure you buy from a reputable source so you don't get yourself or party guests sick!
If you've spent any time on wedding websites or pinterest, you know minimal cakes decorated with edible flowers are insanely popular now. I'm sure every cake decorator has had the request by now. They just add so much beauty and make any occasion elegant.
Are all edible flowers edible?
No! Not all edible flowers can be eaten. They must specifically be grown for human consumption. Just because a flower is edible does not make it safe to eat. Eating a bouquet or roses you received for valentines day can make you very ill. Garnishing a cake with flowers from the grocery store that are technically edible can make your guests sick. They must be labeled "safe for human consumption" if purchased. That is why we put this post together, so you can identify and forage, buy online from reputable sellers, or find them in the store safely.
Download our free edible flower meaning chart to create with intention:
Edible Flowers And Their Meaning Free Chart + Poster Download
Edible flower safety tips:
A little knowledge goes a long way towards ensuring your health and that of others, so make sure to read through these important precautions before consuming any type of edible flower.
- Not all flowers are edible. Even simply garnishing a dish with a flower that is not edible can make you very ill. Be sure you have properly identified your plant before consuming. If you are foraging in nature, use a plant identification app, which helps people identify harmful vs harmless plant species so they don't get sick from trying new things while hiking through nature. Identify the flower exactly and eat only edible flowers and edible parts of those flowers.
- Most store bought flowers are not safe for consumption. The type of flowers you plan to use for food should never come in contact with pesticides or other chemicals. The best edible flowers are ones you grow organically in your garden. The exception is the very seasonal food grade flowers sold in your local grocery store, more on this below.
- Never harvest flowers growing by the roadside, chemically treated lawns, or areas with lots of animals.
- If you haven't tried a particular flower in culinary uses, taste a small piece of the petal before consuming a whole petal. You can be allergic to flowers. Use flowers sparingly in your recipes due to the digestive complications that can occur with a large consumption rate.
Where to buy fresh flowers for decorating cakes:
Now I don't know where you are in the world, but most of my readers are in the United States. I am a diplomat and have lived all over the world. And I have been able to easily source edible flowers easily in the places I've lived: the USA, Europe, Africa and Asia.
So if you're looking for fresh flowers near you, try these places first:
- Your own garden: If you are serious about decorating with edible flowers, the best place to get them is from your own organic edible flower garden. Now, I know not everyone has the time and space for an outdoor or even container garden. So, you can do what I do (now that we're living in the Middle East and there is no way I can grow flowers outdoors) and use an indoor garden system. This is how I grow my own lavender, pansies, and more. So - rule of thumb, the very best place to get fresh edible flowers is from your own garden. When I haven't been able to grow my own I've found it expensive to source the amount I need. For a one time project, keep reading.
- Organic farmers: The next best place is to source them from organic farmers. In every country I've lived in I've been able to find someone who grows organic flowers for consumption. They may be very seasonal, so keep reading to learn how to preserve your flowers and make them last as long as you need. But, it's very likely you can find someone who is already growing them.
- Farmers market: The farmers market will often have edible flowers due to their increased popularity. Before certain crops grow, they produce flowers - like squash blossoms, or cucumber flowers. And if you don't see any, ask the vendors. Maybe they'll bring some for you next time!
- Grocery stores: During spring, you will likely see them in your the produce section of your local grocery stores. What I do is buy more than I think I'll need, preserve them. The best way to do is is to and make pressed flowers to preserve them so I can still use their natural beauty when they're no long in season. Sprouts and Whole Foods market has sold edible flowers in their produce section.
- A local nursery: however you'd have to look for organic plants with edible flowers, these are the ones safe for consumption.
- Online sites: If you live in the United States, there are several websites dedicated to selling organic flowers.
- Gourmet sweet botanicals: Gourmet Sweet Botanicals sells high quality Edible Flowers and specialty items and ships direct to your door! These products are harvested, packed and shipped the same day from the farm to ensure the utmost in color, freshness & flavor. They ship nationwide and to Canada using FedEx and UPS overnight services.
- Cherry valley flowers: A USDA certified organic farm, we take great pride in growing our edible flowers without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. This means that when you eat our edible blooms, you’re only tasting nature.
- Melissa's farms: Melissa’s Edible flowers complement many dishes, adding glamour and pure elegance. Varieties of edible flowers may include: Carnations, Hollyhocks, Daisies, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Chrysanthemums, Chicory, Cornflower, Lavender, Snapdragon, Violets and Pansies. Few of the edible flowers have a lot of flavor; they are primarily added for color, design and aesthetic value.
- Marx flowers: A wonderful selection of organic edible flowers.
Things to look out for when buying edible flowers.
Proceed with caution when eating edible flowers. Only buy your edible flowers from a source you can trust where you are sure you are getting a safe, edible species of flower. The seller should guarantee that the flowers were grown without the use of pesticides or fungicides. If foraging for wildflowers, be extremely confident when identifying species of flowers to avoid eating anything toxic or unfit for consumption. If in doubt, don't eat it.
- Mold. Especially important if you are buying your edible flowers packaged in a supermarket. Sometimes it's hard to know how long they've been stored and in transit from the farm. Look inside the package to make sure there is no mold spreading among the petals. It will usually be a web-like, greyish white mold that fuses the leaves and petals together.
- Color. Flowers should look freshly picked, vibrant, and bright. If the colors have started to fade, or they look dull and lifeless, they may be expiring.
- Petals. The petals should be perky and life-like. A loss of rigidity is normal after harvest, but they should not become too limp and floppy. Any browning or decaying bits around the edges is a bad sign.
Where you shouldn't look for edible flowers:
- It's very unlikely your local florist will carry organic flowers safe for consumption.
- It's very unlikely your grocery store will carry organic flowers safe for consumption.
Fresh flowers you can easily find and forage in the wild:
On fruit trees.
Use flowers from your own garden that haven't been sprayed with pesticides. And consume only flower petals.
Apple Blossoms (Malus species) – Apple blossoms have a delicate floral flavor and aroma. They are an easy accompaniment to fruit dishes, or you can candify them for use as decoration! Be aware that eating too many will cause nausea - this isn't something we recommend doing anyways since the flowers may contain cyanide precursors (which means they're poisonous).
Citrus Blossoms (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat) – Often distilled into floral waters. Distilled citrus flower water is often used in Middle Eastern pastries and beverages. It has a characteristic citrus flavor with an extra hint of lemony goodness that makes for refreshing drinks on hot days! Try my orange blossom creamsicles.
Elderberry Blossoms (Sambucus spp) – Elderflowers belong to the olive family and are beautiful flowering plants. Flowers such as these are highly fragrant and can be used in backyards and landscaping. The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. NOTE: All other parts of this plant, except the berries, are mildly toxic! They contain a bitter alkaloid and glycoside that may change into cyanide. The cooked ripe berries of the edible elders are harmless. Eating uncooked berries may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Most herb flowers are just as tasty as the foliage and very attractive when used in your salads. Add some petals to any dish you were already going to flavor with the herb.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Chives make a great addition to your flower or herb garden with their small but colorful blossoms. The green stems make a great seasoning for your favorite savory recipes or to add to your favorite salads. The round fluffy purple flowers of this herb have a light onion flavor, making this herb a great addition to salads during the summer along with flavoring potatoes and scrambled eggs.
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) – Bee balm is an annual plant that can be found in the mint family. The taste of this herb resembles oregano and mint, but with citrusy undertones from lemon to orange when consumed as tea or salads dressing up your food dish! Bee balm is extremely popular among home gardeners too because these plants don't require much maintenance whatsoever.
Borage (Borago officinalis) – Has lovely cornflower blue star-shaped flowers. Blossoms and leaves have a cool, faint cucumber taste. Wonderful in punches, lemonade, gin and tonics, sorbets, chilled soups, cheese tortas, and dips. You will love this cucumber borage gin and tonic or cucumber borage salad.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. Flowers look beautiful and taste good too in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams. Lavender lends itself to savory dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets.
Download our free vintage edible flower botanical prints wall art:
Vintage edible flower botanical prints wall art
Common edible wild flowers:
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) – The dandelion plant is a common herb that can be found growing all over the world. It's great to grow in your garden, because it's difficult to harvest safely (not close to a roadway, or in an area without many animals). The roots of this edible flower have been used for many years as medicine and it's flowers taste sweet like honey. Can be used in anything, from salad, herbal chicken stock, lemonade or tea.
English daisy (Bellis perennis) - While many people enjoy the bitter taste of these flowers, they are most often used for their beautiful petals and decoration.
Garden sorrel (Rumex acetone) - If you love the tangy taste of lemons, then sorrel is a flower for your palate. It has tart flavors that are refreshing and good on pizza or in sauces to add some excitement!
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) - Gorgeous with a sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible, avoid the berries which are poisonous. The beautiful flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
Lilac (Syrringa vulgaris) Very fragrant floral taste, beautiful candied or infused in honey. They are low-maintenance shrubs. Lilacs offer good summer shade after they have reached several feet tall. Lilacs can be used for anything from a beautiful syrup to a delicious dessert garnish. The best place to plant lilacs is near an entertainment area so they can add color and fragrance, but far enough from power lines and water piles so they can grow to their full potential over several years.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) - Sweet and spicy flavor, often used in savory appetizers and to garnish any and everything. They do well in poor soil and repel common garden pests.
Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) Incredibly easy to grow and beautiful in everything you add it to. Enjoy our popular Garden pansy salad.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) With its sweet, floral fragrance it's no wonder this plant is popular om pickles. Ferment into wine, garnish your salads, or pickle add to your pickles. They're great for use in garden beds and borders as well as containers, or naturalizing areas of the lawn.
Rose (Rosa rugosa) The flavor of these flowers is reminiscent to that of strawberries and tart green apples. Darker varieties have a more prominent taste than their lighter counterparts, but all roses are edible. You will love How to make rose lemonade, rose petal candy, rose infused honey, diy rose water, rose syrup, rose tea, or rose petal jam
Sunflower (Helianthus annus) – A family-friendly snack that's filled with protein and nutrients, sunflower seeds make an excellent option. Cooked and salted, they make a tasty snack anywhere you are or can be shelled to mix into your favorite salad. They grow tall and love the sun, which makes them perfect for filling in the backs of garden beds or for building a fun tall structure for your children in the backyard. The flower tastes similar to artichokes.
Tulip Petals (Tulipa) –The delicate, yet powerful petals of the flower are what make it so unique. The taste has an appealing flavor like sweet lettuce. Some people may have allergic reactions when touching them which can cause skin irritation etc., so if this happens don't eat these magnificent plants either - nor should you touch any bulbs ever consumed for safety reasons as well since many contain allergens inside their protective covering.
Violets (Viola species) – Can be candied and used to decorate cakes or made into violet jelly. You can use violets as a ground cover for your lawn, helping to add a pop of color long before many other flowers begin to bloom.
Where to find dried edible flowers:
I have created a dedicated post that may be helpful to you -> Best edible flowers you can buy online (from amazon) Dried edible flowers are much easier to source. We use so many edible flowers in our tea or as a spice. Think saffron, jasmin, lavender, calendula and more. Dried flowers offer the same floral flavor, but they are preserved so they are easy to store and ship. And they can absolutely be used for cake decorating. We often buy our dried flowers from amazon for the convenience. They are also grown for consumption so you don't have to worry about unsafe pesticides sprayed on the flowers. Some popular dried edible flowers we love in our kitchen [affiliate links]
I love to use dried flowers in cake batters, honey and syrup. Like my lavender honey simple syrup.
How to preserve edible flowers:
Once you find edible flowers you love, there are some reasons why you may want to preserve them. For example, I can only source certain flowers for a small time frame during the year, so I use these methods to increase their shelf life. If you have a lot of flowers to preserve and want to know how to get use out of them all year - read my post on How to store and preserve edible flowers
- press your flowers - see my guide on how to press pansies
- crystallize your flowers in sugar - see my guide on making candied flower petals
- freeze your flowers in an ice cube tray for a beautiful cocktail or lemonade garnish
- infuse them in olive oil to preserve their flavor and health benefits
- infuse them in honey to preserve their flavor and health benefits - see my guide on how to infuse flowers in honey
Make your own edible flowers !
Make any type of flower with frosting or buttercream. Skip the small insects and trying to source real flowers. Make your own delicate petals and enhance your cake decorating with sugar flowers, buttercream flowers. Yes you have the added sugar, but this is an incredible skill.
More easy to find and use edible flowers for cakes:
I made a list of the most popular edible flowers with photos! View the link and print the downloadable chart for future reference.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – Also known as marigolds. The marigold flower has a wonderful and versatile flavor profile that ranges from spicy to bitter, tangy or peppery. Their pretty golden hues make them an easy addition for soups or salads where you want some color. A marigold's real magic lies in what it can bring to your garden.
Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus – aka Dianthus) – The small petals of the carnation family have been used as a delicacy for centuries. The petals can be infused and used to make candy, or used to add color and sweet flavor on cakes.
Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – The variety of colors and tastes make this flower an ideal addition to any dish. With mild peppery notes, - it's easy to love! Use the leaves in vinegar for a different take on salad dressing that is sure not be missed at your next dinner party. Mums are one of the most popular perennials for the garden.
Clover (Trifolium species) – Red and white clover has been used in folk medicine for numerous reasons. Clover is used to this day for it's antioxidant properties and ability to relieve cold and sore throat symptoms. Clover is often used in tea, as the whole raw flavors can be difficult to digest. It's flavor is sweet, and reminiscent of licorice.
Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus) – The flavor of this flower is not heavy, but rather light and refreshing. It's often used as garnish or in cooking for its natural food coloring properties, or to give an extra boost of spice, without adding too much flavor.
Echinacea (E. angustifolia) - also known as coneflower, attracts honey bees and butterflies. These flowers serve as decorations for baking and can be used to make herbal tea with medicinal properties that can boost the immune system and fight off the common cold and flu, making them great for perennial garden beds. It takes two years for this plant to begin flowering, so plant it in a large pot and enjoy it for a few years before it produces colorful cone-shaped flowers.
Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp) - Gladiolus is one of the most beautiful edible flowers, with a mild lettuce taste. Toss petals into a salad or cocktail.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa - sinensis) - Mild fruity bitter flavor, beautiful in salads and cocktails. flower is an edible tropical flower that's also beautiful. Floral tea from these flowers is delicious, and they are a lovely garnish for cakes. Zones 5 and 6 gardeners can add this edible flower to their garden as a great option.
Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) - Very mild flavor, beautiful as a garnish in drinks.
Where to buy organic edible flower seeds:
Johnny seeds:Grow a wide assortment of flowers for use as garnishes and decorations.Our organic Edible Flower Collection will provide you with all you need to keep your salads and desserts looking spectacular all summer long. Includes one packet each of the following organic seeds: Anise Hyssop, Borage, Calendula (Flashback Mix), Dill (Bouquet), Nasturtium (Kaleidoscope Mix), and Sweet Thai Basil. Varieties subject to change depending upon availability. USDA Certified Organic. Ht: Varies.
Frequently asked questions:
Does Trader Joe's have edible flowers?
Trader Joe's has not yet sold edible flowers safe for consumption. You can find flowers there for purchase, but these are not grown for human consumption. Do not garnish your food or eat food with these flowers unless they're specifically labeled "organic" or "safe for human consumption". Whole foods market and sprouts do sell organic edible flowers when in season.
Can all edible flowers be eaten?
Not necessarily. Not all edible flowers can be eaten. They must specifically be grown for human consumption. Just because a flower is edible does not make it safe to eat. Eating a bouquet or roses you received for valentines day can make you very ill. Garnishing a cake with flowers from the grocery store that are technically edible can make your guests sick. They must be labeled "safe for human consumption" or grown organically in your garden.
What are the most popular edible flowers?
Rose, lavender, nasturtium, borage, chamomile, jasmine,
How do you make edible flowers for cakes?
You can bypass nature all together and make your own flowers out of buttercream or sugar paste! Make any type of flower with frosting or buttercream. Skip the small insects and trying to source real flowers. Make your own delicate petals and enhance your cake decorating with sugar flowers, buttercream flowers. Yes you have the added sugar, but this is an incredible skill.