Imagine a dire survival situation where everything you stockpiled has disappeared into the sky and it’s just you and your partner, Adam and Eve style. It’s time to live off the land.
Lucky for you two, your home has a landscape full of flowers, plants, seeds, and produce that practically sustains itself. You’ve got crops with vitamins, carbohydrates, amino acids, and even some that have medicinal properties. Wouldn’t that be awesome? For this very reason, many people are creating something called edible landscapes in their front and backyards.
Fill your boring flower beds with beautiful flowering plants, pot some big leafy herbs, arrange a bed of different species of greens, and just stick all the ugly edible plants on your property line. You now have a clean and safe food supply, sustainable environment, and beautiful backyard to wake up to every morning.
So what kind of plants are best for edible landscapes? Here are 40 suggestions.
Once your herb plants pick up momentum, they’ll carry on growing like a weed. You can use them for full ground cover or contain them in a pretty pot.
1. Mint – We often use mint in tea and cocktails, but when foraging time comes around, mint can be used as a flavorful morale booster.
2. Rosemary – Rosemary practically takes care of itself in the right environment. Its strong flavor can make any bitter plant taste delicious.
3. Thyme – When thyme plants blossom, little purple flowers bloom, adding a lovely element to your edible landscape.
4. Basil – There are multiple types of basil and they all grow pretty easily if kept moist. However, watch out for pests that like to lay eggs under their big umbrella leaves.
5. Cilantro – Set your cilantro up for easy grazing by planting it in sandy soil outside where it can thrive.
6. Ginger – We eat the root of ginger, but have you ever seen the plant that grows out of it? Gorgeous. Pot little ginger roots all along your deck or back patio for a touch of elegance.
For any edible landscape, it’s ideal to plant veggies that are low-maintenance.
7. Beets – I love the green and red coloration of beet leaves in my garden. They are so pretty that you almost don’t want to pick them. But when you do, the possibilities are endless.
8. Artichokes – Artichoke plants are so unique and will likely become the pride and joy of your edible landscape. They provide a meaty texture like no other plant can offer.
9. Green Beans – They grow so easily! Plant your green bean seeds in a wide pot along with two wood posts for them to climb.
10. Salad Greens – Salad greens are a wonderful space filler when you have a patch of boring soil to cover. The greens grow to be big, beautiful, and ready to eat.
11. Hot Peppers – Pepper plants are resilient! Grow them in a pot or plant them directly in the soil. If the peppers start to wilt, pull them off and dry them in the sun for later.
12. Bell Peppers – Did you know that the green, yellow, and red bell peppers all come from the same plant? The colors just represent their different phases of life.
13. Cabbage – Easy. Yummy. Can grow them anywhere. They also make for a fun soccer ball when you get sick of cabbage.
14. Avocados – You can grow your avocados with only a Mason jar and water. Once they start to sprout, plant them in the soil and see if you can get a tree going.
15. Carrots – The green leafy sprouts of carrots look so lovely in a garden or flowerbed. Why not throw a few seeds in the soil next to your other edible plants?
16. Chives – As a child, chives were the first plant I ever learned to grow because they practically grow themselves. They grow plentiful and full crops with the occasional purple blossom flower.
17. Potatoes – In the ground, in a sack, in a pot, in a bucket–potatoes will grow wherever they have room! You’ll be surprised by how pretty their big green leaves can grow.
18. Kale – Kale will grow any time of year, even in the colder months. Their leaves are a beautiful frosty green color that gives your landscape a unique finish.
19. Mushrooms – All you need are spawn plugs and you can grow Shiitake mushrooms on logs, trees, stumps, or another piece of clean wood. Your whole property will be an edible forest.
20. Blueberries – Blueberries are native to North America so they thrive relatively easy. This plant is a woody shrub that looks beautiful standing alone or lining a walkway.
21. Strawberries – Strawberries love hot weather, so if you’ve got that going for you, start growing your strawberry crop for an edible landscape. They are easy to harvest, jam, and store.
22. Crabapples – Crabapples trees grow nice and tall to add some height and dimension to your landscape. The flowers are bright and the fruit make delicious ciders and perfect snacks.
23. Blackberries – I’m not advising you to plant this pesky invasive species, but the berries are so good that maybe consider containing the plant with a wire cage and clipping the branches back often.
24. Persimmon Tree – Add a little shade to your landscape with tall Persimmon Trees. Persimmon fruits make great jams and compote that are easy to jar and store.
25. Mandarin Oranges – Mandarin bushes grow to be really full with lots of fruit and leaves, so you’ll certainly need a pot that can handle it. A deep, heavy ceramic pot is ideal. Be patient as the fruit can take up to 12 months to grow.
These plant species do best living in hot, humid weather areas like Florida, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, and the southern states.
26. Wild Betel Leaves – In Asian cooking, Wild Betel Leaves are often chopped up and added to a stir-fry or used like foil to wrap and cook other ingredients.
27. Torch Ginger – This gorgeous bright pink flower contains 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams. Torch Ginger is an absolutely stunning addition to any landscape or garden.
28. Lead Tree – The large pods that grow from a Lead Tree contain little peanut-like nuts that are often used in chili paste. You can also eat them raw!
29. Prickly Pear Cactus – You can use Prickly Pear Cactus in your margaritas before the end of the world hits. Just pick off the barbs! The fruit is very nutritious and has a sweet taste.
30. Wild Asparagus – Wild Asparagus is thinner than the asparagus you’d find in a store. It grows easily and is a great source of Vitamin C, B6, and potassium.
31. Fireweed – Fireweed adds an eye-catching touch of purple to your landscape. For a peppery taste, eat the flowers and seeds. For a tender snack, eat the young leaves.
32. Plantain – No, not the bananas. These Plantain plants cultivate big leaves that grow to be 6 inches long by 4 inches wide and a great source it Vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.
33. Colocasia – Colocasia is a plant rich in amino acids. It also offers medicinal benefits such as a cough suppressant and digestive aid. The big leaves do well in both shade and sun.
34. Water Lily – If you have a pond on the property, you can grow beautiful water lilies whose seeds are high in carbohydrates and amino acids.
35. Lemons – Lemons aren’t exactly tropical but they do best in humid weather. You can space them a few feet apart and then trim them and train them to grow into a perfect hedge.
Self-Sustaining Edible Plants
Here are some of the easiest plants to grow that require very little attention.
36. Dandelion – Those bright yellow flowers you see growing in your yard are typically considered annoying weeds, but they offer more than annoyance. You can make dandelion tea as a digestive aid and use it to improve appetite.
37. Purslane – You’ve probably seen Purslane plants before and didn’t even realize that their fat little leaves and cute yellow flowers are delicious to eat raw and provide a decent source of calories.
38. Wood Sorrel – Wood Sorrel can be used to cure mouth sores, alleviate thirst, and provide a nice source of vitamin C that when boiled taste a bit like potatoes.
39. Sheep Sorrel – Are you a fan of tart lemon flavor? These tall, red Sheep Sorrel plants add a lot of flavor to whatever raw bouquet you’re putting together.
40. Cattail – I bet you never knew that this pond plant is edible. The brown flower can be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob and the rootstalk can be eaten raw.
Edible landscapes are meant to be both beautiful and beneficial. Pick the plants with flowers that make you smile, but also take stock of what plants will provide you with vitamins, carbs, amino acids and other beneficial nutrients. You should be able to go through your back yard and make a little checklist to ensure that every key element to your diet is present.
And in the end, if disaster never strikes, you are left with a beautiful piece of property filled with luscious greens, gorgeous flowers, and ingredients to inspire new recipes.