15 Plants for Edible Landscaping
There are literally thousands of plants that can used to create a beautiful landscaping – both indoors and outdoors. Why not consider using some plants that are edible too?
Some of my favorites edible landscaping plants include these fifteen:
- Espaliered Apple Trees
- Espaliered Cherry Trees
- Espaliered Pear Trees
- Miniature Citrus Trees (orange, lemon, lime)
- Blueberry Bushes
- Trellised Blackberries
- Trellised Raspberries
- Scented Geraniums
- Day Lilies
- Pansies and Violets
Each brings a unique look to an overall landscape. There’s nothing like going out into your own yard each day to pick fruit or flowers that can be eaten!
Espalier and Miniature Fruit Trees
Espalier is an ancient European art of training trees and shrubs to grow on a flat plan or along a fence. It's a technique that has been commonly used for fruit trees.
Training takes time and espaliered fruit trees require pruning 2-3 times a year. While they may take some work, the pay off is exquisite!
Some of the more common fruit trees that can be espaliered are:
Miniature Citrus Trees
Dwarf or miniature citrus trees can make excellent container plants to accent landscaping designs or they can be incorporated into permanent landscaping in warmer growth zones.
These miniatures produce fragrant flowers, followed by full-sized citrus fruit.
Popular dwarf varieties include:
- Meyer Lemon
- Venous Orange
- Washington Navel Orange
- Tango Mandarin
- Clementine Mandarin
- Kieffer Lime
- Key Lime
- Sweet Lime
Miniature citrus trees can also be great indoor edible fruit trees even in colder climates.
Berry Bushes and Fruit Canes
Blueberry bushes can grow 7-12 feet tall, depending on the variety. They make an excellent landscaping backdrop or when planted in rows, they can serve as a natural hedge.
These bushes do best in acidic soils (pH between 4.1 and 5.0). Soil that is naturally not acidic can be supplemented to create the ideal pH. Blueberries like plenty of sunlight for ripening but, they can do just fine without morning sun (I have three bushes that do quite well on the west side of the house).
Blueberry flowers have both male and female organs within the same flower, but not all varieties are self-pollinating. It is best to have at least two varieties that flower around the same time (There are early season versus late season varieties.) Try to pick two early varieties or two late varieties and plant within at least 100 feet of each other. They tend to do well with as little as five feet between which can increases the amount of cross-pollination by bees.
Unlike blueberries, blackberries grow as canes. They love full sun and a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH (pH 6.5 to 7).
While blackberries are typically known for their nasty thorns, there are thornless varieties.
Thornless blackberries reach a mature height of 5 feet and canes behave similar to vines when growing. Trellising the canes allow for more airflow and keeps them from going crazy. More airflow and better access to sunlight with trellising can increase fruit yield!
There are many varieties of raspberries. Again these grow as canes and most varieties do have have thorns on the canes - so handle with care! However, there is at least one variety of thornless raspberry (known as “Joan J”).
Raspberries also do best with some kind of trellising or support.
IMPORTANT NOTE: With all three types of berries, covering the fruit with bird netting before the fruit ripens is essential if you wish to have fruit for yourself!
There are a number of herb and flower blossoms that are edible and the parent plants make for beautiful landscaping.
Here is just a SMALL sampling of herbs and flowers that produce edible blossoms that you can consider incorporating into your landscaping:
Chives: Along with the green leaves, chive blossoms are edible. The taste is a blended combination of garlic and onion.
Lavender: These blossoms are well known for their use in tea but, they are also excellent for use in cookies, cakes, and ice cream. Culinary lavender is becoming quite popular. For example, lavender blossoms can be used as an edible garnish on meat and potatoes.
There are a surprising large number of flowers that are edible. Below is a sampling of some of the more popular ones. Be absolutely sure you have identified the flower properly and only eat the portion of the flower considered edible.
Nasturtium: These flowers have a peppery taste and are easy to grow.
Pansy and Violets: These have a mild, minty flavor. They are popular either candied or as décor on cakes. Violets can be used to make tea, cake, and syrup.
Roses: Rose petals have a sweet taste. They are also commonly candied and used as décor on cakes.
Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species): The flower flavor often corresponds to the variety. For example, a lemon-scented geranium has lemon scented flowers with a hint of lemon taste. The flowers and leaves are great for teas and on salads.
Daylily: These petals have a slightly sweet mild vegetable flavor. Note that these can act as a mild diuretic or laxative so they should be eaten in moderation!
Carnation: Flowers can be steeped in wine, candied, or use as décor on cakes. The petals can be used in other desserts as well.
Important notes on choosing edible flowers
Flowers should only be eaten if you know for certain they are edible.
There are some excellent books and guides that can help you decide. On of my favorites is "The Edible Flower Garden" by Rosalind Creasy.
And, with edible flowers, often only the petals are edible. The base or pollen may not be or they may take away for the sweet flavor of the petal.
You should not eat flowers from a commercial plant or one that was not labeled for use in or on food products. Commercial plants usually have been treated with pesticides.
You should not eat flowers taken from the roadside. These may have been exposed to a number of toxic chemicals.
And finally, you should not eat flowers received from a florist or purchased at a nursery. These may have been treated with heavy pesticides and other chemicals that can be toxic!
Creating an edible landscaping can be both fun and rewarding. It takes time and patience but the results can be spectacular!
Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter (copying or reproducing part or all of this article is prohibited)