The list of non-toxic outdoor flowering plants goes on and on, but there are many blooms that are not toxic and edible. As with all plants, be sure that you have identified the correct plant, and not a look-a-like before trusting that it is non-toxic. Keep in mind that even edible plants and flowers can cause problems, such as nausea if eaten in large quantities. They may also also cause allergic reactions in some people and animals.
Alyssum, also known as carpet of snow, is popular as a border plant in formal gardens and flower boxes. Usually seen in white, it also comes in blue, pink, purple and gold. It has a sweet scent that's similar to honeysuckle, and blooms nearly all summer long. Alyssum is non-toxic and edible, although many people report that the blooms have little to no flavor.
Bachelor button, or cornflower, has spiky petals and an appearance similar to a shaggy daisy or sunflower. The most common color is blue, but they can also be white, pink or lilac. Bachelor button is non-toxic and edible, but North Carolina State University warns that while the petals are tasty, the calyx, or green petals at the base, is bitter tasting. The petals have a flavor that can best be described as similar to cloves. Bachelor button blooms for about one month, usually in July, but blooms can be made to last all summer by planting in two-week intervals throughout spring.
With its spiky growing habit, hollyhock is often used as a backdrop in a flower garden, and planted in rows or groupings in informal country-style gardens. While the flowers are showy, they are also non-toxic. Hollyhock flowers are edible, but have little flavor. Hollyhock is gaining popularity as a garnish and cake decoration, even though it is usually removed after serving. They also grow just about anywhere that they receive full sun and regular water, and are ideal beginner flowers.
Popular in gardens and in cooking, non-toxic marigolds are used in place of saffron in many dishes. According to North Carolina State University, the tangerine gem and lemon gem varieties have the best flavor. Fresh marigolds have a citrus-like flavor and chefs often use them in salads. They also have medicinal properties and are used to treat skin rashes and irritations. Marigolds bloom in summer and often continue to hold their blossoms through fall. They need plenty of sunshine, but require little care. Marigolds also repel many common garden pests, such as mosquitoes and gnats.
Usually planted for its seeds or cheerful colors, sunflowers are non-toxic and entirely edible. The unopened flower buds are the preferred portion, and taste similar to artichoke if picked early enough. As the flower blooms, the flavor changes and becomes bittersweet. It continues to be edible, however, and is often used fresh in salads, or as a decoration or garnish. Sunflowers grow easily and quickly and require minimal care. They do, however, require full afternoon sun in order to thrive.
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