As a home gardener, I love edible plants that are beautiful and easy to care for. Recently, my beautiful zinnias caught my eye while walking around my garden. With bright pops of colorful reds, oranges, bright pinks, and yellows, zinnias can look stunning in any garden bed, container, or floral arrangement. While admiring these lovely flowers, I couldn’t help but wonder: are zinnias edible?
Zinnias are edible, can be seeped to make teas, and can be used as a garnish on soups, salads, and other dishes. While they may be slightly bitter, depending on the plant’s maturity, you can dry out the petals that offer different flavors. You can even eat the entire flower without too much bitterness if picked early enough in its development.
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The zinnia genus is home to over 20 diverse species, each flowering plant as beautiful as the next. These intense flowers aren’t bothered by hot summer weather, are low-maintenance, and keep producing new blooms, so long as they are properly maintained. With their ornamental allure, zinnias have always held a special place in my heart. However, their appeal extends beyond mere aesthetics because they are also edible. In this article, I will share the remarkable culinary potential of this incredible flower and guide you on how to incorporate this fantastic and versatile plant into your kitchen adventures.
- Discover innovative ways to use and incorporate zinnias into your meals AND familiarize yourself with the different zinnia species that are safest to eat!
- Save time with these insider tips for consuming zinnias responsibly so you know how and when to use zinnias for maximum benefit.
- Discover how to grow zinnias from seed with this step-by-step process so you can feel confident growing these gorgeous and edible flowers inside or out!
Can You Eat Zinnias: Are They Edible Flowers
Surprisingly, the entire zinnia plant and flowers are edible and safe for humans to consume. Whether you’re looking to infuse your teas with a subtle floral undertone, add a unique garnish to cakes and baked goods, or desire to inject a pop of color into your salad dishes, zinnias offer an exciting, edible option for these and so much more.
Although less popular than other edible flowers like nasturtiums, calendula, and violets, zinnias are an incredibly versatile edible flower. They can be enjoyed raw, used as a garnish, or added as decoration to top off your dishes and create exciting additions when incorporated into salads and desserts. 1
Are All Zinnias Edible Or Are Some Poisonous to Humans
Zinnias encompass a wide variety of species, and while many are annuals, about half the known zinnia species are indeed perennials. These perennial zinnias, which can sometimes resemble small shrubs in their growing habits, are less known and less familiar to the standard home gardener.
When people refer to “garden zinnias,” they typically mean the popular annual flowers that grow in gardens across the globe, such as Zinnia elegans or Zinnia angustifolia. These annual varieties are cherished for their vibrant, long-lasting blossoms that bloom prolifically from the last spring until the first frost of autumn.
Because of limited information about the perennial species, it’s best to opt for the annual species to add zinnia to your dishes. Zinnias are not known to be poisonous to humans. They are technically classified as edible flowers, although their flavor tends to be bitter and not appealing to many. 2
However, it’s important to note that while zinnias are generally non-toxic and safe to eat, this type of flower may cause an allergic reaction in some people who have allergies to other plants belonging to the Asteraceae family, like daisies, sunflowers, and chrysanthemums. As always, consult with your doctor if you are unsure if you may be allergic to zinnias.
Are The Zinnia Flowers And Petals Edible
Zinnia flowers are edible and can make your food more colorful and fun. For example, edible zinnia petals can add pretty designs and a sprinkle of color to desserts like cakes or cupcakes. You can also use zinnia flowers in ice cream and jellies.
In salads, zinnia petals can make the dish look more exciting. They add a new texture and a hint of floral flavor. You can mix them with the salad or use them as a topping. For sandwiches, you can put the petals inside for a surprise of color or use them as a fancy topping. They also add a unique flavor. You can even use zinnia petals on pasta, risotto, stir-fries, soups, and drinks for a touch of elegance. Just remember to rinse the flowers well before consuming them. 3
Check out this video below that details the best qualities and varieties of zinnias, their maintenance and care, and seed saving. Zinnias are one of the easiest, no-hassle flowers to grow that offer so much to your budding garden.
What Do Zinnias Taste Like
While zinnias are safe to eat, they can taste somewhat bitter to some. This bitterness is why they are more commonly used as decorative and vibrant elements in culinary presentations, garnishing salads, desserts, and drinks rather than for their flavor.
How To Grow Edible Zinnias From Seeds
Growing different types of zinnias are easy and can be a fulfilling project. High-quality types of zinnia seeds are recommended for good results. The process is as follows:
- Use a small pot with drainage holes. Fill the container with a soil mix (50% garden soil, 30% compost, and 20% river sand), pressing down gently to firm up the mixture.
- Moisten the soil mix before sowing your seeds. Once the soil is primed, space seeds 1-2 inches apart for adequate air circulation.
- Cover seeds with a quarter inch of soil, and water lightly.
- Label the pots with the variety name and place them in a warm, light-filled area, like a sunny windowsill or under an indoor grow light. Be sure to check on them every day or two.
- Seedlings should emerge within 4-6 days. Once you see their sprouts, keep the soil evenly moist with regular watering. 5
- Seedlings can be transplanted when they reach 3-5 inches tall or have 3-5 true leaves.
- Use pots at least 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep for transplanting. Gently remove the seedling from its starter pot, trying not to disturb the roots.
- In the new pot, dig a hole large enough for the root ball, fill it with soil, and press firmly but gently to support the plant.
- Water thoroughly and keep plants at least 6-8 inches apart.
- After transplanting, keep the pot in partial sun for two to three days to prevent transplant shock, then shift to full sun.
- Zinnias proliferate quickly and blooms form 35-45 days after seeding. Remember, growing healthy zinnias requires a lot of sun and well-draining soil.
- When flowers start to form, add Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilizer to encourage more and bigger blossoms. DAP fertilizer provides a readily available nitrogen source, which supports the overall growth and greening of plants and phosphorus, which is crucial for promoting root development. 6
- Zinnias may be affected by spider mites, powdery mildew, and bacterial wilt. Keep these under control by using insecticides as needed. It’s best to opt for natural insecticides such as neem oil, mineral oil, insecticidal soaps, and diatomaceous earth.
- Deadheading or pruning (removing dead flowers) stimulates growth as the plant directs energy to new blooms and keeps the plant bushy and full.
- Maintain moderate soil moisture and fertilize lightly. Keep excess moisture away from the foliage by watering at the base of the plant.
Using edible flowers can make your dishes stand out. Zinnias are one of my favorites. They’re bright, beautiful, and easy to grow. You can use their beautiful flowers and petals in soups, salads, cakes, and cupcakes as decoration or even use them to add flavor to teas.
When it comes to eating zinnias, It’s best to use annual varieties grown without chemicals or pesticides to stay safe and healthy to keep your food safe and healthy.
Have you consumed zinnias? We’d love to know how you’ve incorporated this unique flower with various ways to use zinnias in the kitchen effectively. Take a moment and leave a comment below and share how zinnias have benefited you.