Another reason to love daylilies

Recently I presented a program with a colleague about using edibles in the landscape. Eating out of your landscape can challenge your definition of "ornamental" versus "edible" plant.

One of my favorite ways is to use plants traditionally relegated to the vegetable garden as members of the flower or ornamental garden. Many vegetable plants are attractive in their own right; we just don't traditionally stop and think about things like variety of colors, textures, and sizes of plants we traditionally grow for food.

Look around and you will find many plants that deserve a "promotion" into the flower garden.

Examples include:
  • Okra
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce
  • Fennel
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Sweet Potato

There are also plenty of plants we grow primarily for their ornamental value that are not only edible, but quite tasty as well:

  • Nasturtiums, pansies, violas, lavender, thyme, chives, basil, dill, daylily, squash blossom and calendula are all examples of plants with edible flowers.
  • Remember that NOT every flower is edible. Use a reliable reference source to determine whether a flower is safe to eat.
  • Do NOT eat flowers that have been exposed to pesticides or that are found growing on the roadside.
  • Use flowers sparingly in recipes until you are sure your digestive system can tolerate a particular flower. Some flowers have adverse effects when eaten in large quantities.

While the vast majority of edible flower recipes use the flowers fresh in dishes such as salads,  a recipe for deep-fried daylilies caught my eye when I was preparing for the  edible landscape program. It was a simple recipe, and I thought to myself "Why not? Who doesn't like something deep-fried?"

The recipe calls for daylily buds. I experimented with different stages of the buds, and found that those about a day away from opening worked best. I tried using some flowers just starting to open, and they exploded into a greasy mess when fried.

I was pleasantly surprised that the deep fried daylilies were not only edible, they were delicious! They remind me mostly of asparagus, with a hint of green beans. Those that attended our program agreed. We also tried the daylilies fresh or  sauteed the buds in olive oil seasoned with herbs. All versions were tasty, but hands down those in attendance fell in love with the deep-fried version.

Deep Fried Daylilies


  • 1 cup  white flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold carbonated beverage (we used lemon-lime soda)
  • 1 to 2 pounds of fresh daylily buds*


  1. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together until fully mixed. Mix in 1 cup of cold carbonated beverage. Be careful not to over-mix. There may be a few lumps in the batter.
  2. Use a deep fryer or frying pan with oil at a temperature of about 350 F to 375 F.
  3. Hold the daylily buds by the stem and dip each one into the batter. Don't worry about coating the end you're holding with batter.  Drop each battered bud into the oil carefully to avoid splashing. Fry for about one minute on each side. Remove from the oil and drain each daylily bud on paper towels.
  4. Eat warm. We tried ours sprinkled with salt, seasoned salt, or powdered sugar. We also tried dipping some in balsamic vinaigrette. The audience was pretty well divided on which they preferred, the sweet or savory version.
  5. We also tried this batter recipe on some onions with delicious results. An audience member went home and used this batter for fish and reported that her husband said it was the best battered fish he had ever eaten!

*Be sure that you have identified your daylilies correctly. Other species of lilies can be toxic.

Check out this article about the edible landscaping class: