Weave edible plants into your garden beds and borders to create a landscape that is both beautiful and useful!
If a utilitarian, farm-like approach to growing your own vegetables, berries, and other edible plants has turned you off from growing food in the past, consider a more aesthetically appealing way to use edibles in your landscape.
Utility does have its place—raised beds can make it easier to rotate crops, harvest plants, keep track of sowing timelines, and generally organize your edible space. But just because they are the standard practice doesn’t mean that raised beds are the only way to grow food in your garden.
Many edible plants can be grown in decorative containers or planted directly into landscape beds for a dynamic approach to both growing food and to gardening. Not only does this allow you to integrate food seamlessly into your landscape, but the edible plants you choose can be an attractive and unique addition to planting schemes across many different styles.
Benefits of Growing Edible Plants in Pots
- Containers allow for easy access to the area nearest your kitchen
- Create a cocktail garden with garnishes for drinks around your entertaining area
- Add structure to the patio with an attractive potted dwarf fruit tree
- Create natural screens using decorative planters or troughs and espaliered trees
- Container plantings require less weeding and digging
- Many edibles with dwarf or compact habits are better suited for containers
Keep in mind that it is best to pair herbs or veggies that have similar needs including sun exposure and water requirements. For detailed tips on growing and maintaining potted edible plants, read our blog article on How to Grow Edibles in Containers.
Benefits of Growing Edible Plants in the Landscape
- No need for a dedicated growing space—easily incorporate edibles into existing plantings
- Ornamental edible plants fit into any style or type of garden
- A little goes a long way—even a couple plants can make an impact in the garden or kitchen
- Aesthetic appeal—add colors, textures, and scents that are both visually pleasing and functional
- Growing ornamental edible plants can be fun and educational for both children and adults
- Wide range of edible plants to choose from; experiment with new recipes and culinary creations!
If you decide to grow edibles in your landscape, it is best to feed with organic fertilizer. In addition, make sure your family knows which plants are safe for munching and which ones are just for looks!
Our Favorite Ornamental Edibles
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but here are some of our favorite edible plants that we think are attractive in any garden setting!
10 Beautiful Vegetables for the Garden
- Kale – Dazzling Blue Kale is an extra-cold-hardy, vigorous kale with striking purple midrib pops against blue-green leaves and a classic Lacinato leaf shape.
- Tree Collard – Perennial leafy green vegetable with tall, upright growth habit; nutritious and long harvesting season; similar flavor to collard greens, but slightly sweeter and more delicate taste.
- Heirloom Tomato – Wide range of shapes, colors, and flavors; prized for unique characteristics; open-pollinated and often grown organically; popular varieties include Brandywine, Cherokee, Amana Orange, Green Zebra, and Yellow Pear.
- Lettuce – Many varieties, each with unique flavor, texture, and color; Mascara Lettuce is a stunning and dependable oakleaf lettuce with deep red leaves and giant, open heads.
- Chile Pepper – Brightly colored peppers add a pop of color to gardens or containers; spicy scent can deter some pests; popular varieties include Jalapeño, Habanero, Cayenne, and Serrano.
- Scarlet Runner Bean – Edible beans on an attractive and versatile vining plant; bright red flowers add a pop of color to any garden and are attractive to pollinators.
- Artichoke – Herbaceous perennial that can grow up to 5 feet tall with large, silvery-green leaves and thistle-like, edible flower buds for a bold and architectural statement in the garden.
- Swiss Chard – Leafy green vegetable; Rainbow Chard has stems that come in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, orange, and red.
- Cauliflower – Purple of Sicily Cauliflower is a unique variety with tightly compacted, vibrant purple heads; mild, sweet flavor and tender texture.
- Eggplant – Gorgeous fruits and hairy, egg-shaped leaves; Black Beauty Eggplant has glossy, deep purple skin that’s almost black for a striking addition to any garden.
10 Attractive Herbs for the Garden
- Lavender – Spanish Lavender has long, narrow leaves and distinct “rabbit-like” blooms in pink, purple, or white; attractive to bees and other pollinators.
- Thyme – Silver Posie Thyme is known for its attractive silver and green variegated foliage.
- Rosemary – Tuscan Blue Rosemary is known for its strong flavor and aroma, perfect for cooking uses, and features needle-like evergreen foliage with clear blue flowers.
- Basil – Purple Basil features deep purple leaves, while Pesto Perpetua Basil has green and white variegated leaves; both have slightly sweet, peppery taste.
- Sage – Golden Sage is known for its striking golden-yellow velvety foliage, while Tricolor Sage boasts brilliantly variegated foliage in white, green and purple.
- Sweet Bay – Little Ragu is a compact shrub or small tree with aromatic, deep green, glossy foliage; adds classic Mediterranean flavor to culinary dishes.
- Shiso – Two main varieties are Green Shiso and Red or Purple Shiso; slightly fuzzy leaves with unique flavor often described as a combination of mint, basil, and anise.
- Nasturtium – Colorful flowers come in shades of yellow, orange, and red; leaves and petals are also edible with slightly peppery taste.
- Hyssop – Also known as Agastache and hummingbird mint; features narrow, lance-shaped leaves with small, tubular flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, peach, or white.
- Borage – Abundance of star-shaped blue flowers atop thick, fuzzy stems; leaves and flowers contain high levels of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid.
10 Stunning Fruits & Berries for the Garden
- Espaliered Apple Tree – Trained to grow flat against a wall, fence, or trellis, rather than traditional upright form, for more efficient use of space, easier maintenance, and improved fruit production.
- Citrus Tree – Variegated Pink Lemon features striped green and yellow fruit with pink flesh that is tart and flavorful and dark green leaves with white or cream-colored variegation.
- Olive Tree – Arbequina Olive is small and slow-growing with narrow leaves that are dark green on top and silvery-white underneath; fully ripe fruits are dark purple in color; great for olive oil.
- Blueberry – Pink Lemonade Blueberry produces pink fruit with slightly more floral taste than traditional blueberries; dark green leaves turn red in fall; clusters of white/pinkish flowers in spring.
- Evergreen Huckleberry – Native shrub with leathery, oval-shaped, green leaves and small, dark purple berries that are similar in flavor to blueberries; great food source for birds and other wildlife.
- Fig Tree – Little Ruby Fig is a dwarf variety prized for hardiness, compact size, and high yield of sweet, juicy figs; ideal for small gardens/containers; attractive lobed leaves and smooth, grey bark.
- Caneberry – Raspberry Shortcake is a dwarf, thornless raspberry shrub perfect for small spaces; known for high yield of sweet, juicy fruits; lush green foliage turns reddish-purple in fall.
- Strawberry – Pineberry is a day-neutral variety that features distinct white fruits with red seeds and a flavor reminiscent of both strawberries and pineapples.
- Grape Vine – Flame Seedless Grape is known for its large, crisp, juicy berries that are bright red when ripe; vigorous, productive vine that is easy to grow and maintain on trellis or other support.
- Cherry Tree – Rainier Cherry is a hybrid variety that features pastel pink blooms in spring followed by large, juicy cherries with golden-yellow skin and red blush; great fall foliage, too!