17 Beautiful Edible Landscaping Plants

A bunch of chives with light purple flowers growing outside
Jasenka Arbanas / Getty Images

When it comes to garden plants, there often seems to be a sharp divide between the ornamental and the practical. But there are plenty of backyard plants to choose from that offer both calories and an appealing look. From delicious berries to flowering tubers, these edible beauties can transform your landscaping and contribute to your garden's bounty.

Here are 17 edible landscaping plants that can also add beauty to your yard.

Warning

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 17

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus shoots growing out of brown soil

frank600 / Getty Images

The asparagus plant is a perennial flowering plant whose young shoots are the source of a crunchy garden vegetable with a distinctive flavor. Harvest the shoots through early summer, then allow it to grow and watch it transform into a bushy, fernlike plant that can serve double duty as an ornamental. Once established, this perennial will return for up to 15 years, though it can take a while to start from seed—consider planting crowns instead, which are available at most nurseries. It grows best in spring and has the sweetest flavor and perfect crunch when the shoots are harvested right on time

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8.
  • Sun Exposure: Prefers full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Slightly acidic, neutral, fertile, well-draining soil.
2
of 17

Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Jerusalem artichoke flowers blooming outdoors

Manuela Schewe-Behnisch / EyeEm / Getty Images

Everybody knows sunflowers, but what about a native sunflower species that's perennial, crowds out weeds, is shade-tolerant, and produce edible tubers? All of that describes the Jerusalem artichoke, also known as the sunchoke—a great choice for home gardens that's both beautiful and productive. The tubers can be harvested in fall or over the winter, and can be eaten raw or cooked like a potato. The plant itself grows tall like a sunflower, and can be planted as a border or on the north side of a garden bed. To keep them from spreading in your yard, it's important to dig up all the tubers each year. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Prefers well-draining, near neutral soil.
3
of 17

Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)

A blooming artichoke with a large bud and purple flower

Eve Livesey / Getty Images

A perennial that can be planted in the spring or fall, the globe artichoke produces a large, edible flower bud that can be harvested before it comes into bloom. If you're not set on maximizing your artichoke yield, allow some of the buds to go to flower, and they will go on to produce a stunning purple bloom. The plant itself can function as a centerpiece of a garden, since it can grow up to six feet tall and four feet across. In colder zones where it only grows as an annual, it must be planted in spring to allow it to mature over summer. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7-11 (or as an annual in colder zones).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Light, fertile, well-draining soil.
4
of 17

Rose Hips (Rosa spp.)

A close-up of rose hips on a rose bush.

Anke Wittkowski / EyeEm / Getty Images

Rosehips are the seed of the famous rose plant, a woody perennial that's a flower garden staple. If you're growing roses specifically for the hips, the rugosa variety is a good choice, since it produces larger hips than most other variants. The rosehip is not often seen, since roses are usually pruned back when they wilt, which cuts off the fruits as well. Leave the wilting flowers, though, and you should see the small red or purple fruits appear by the end of summer. They can be used to brew tea, make jellies, or dried and eaten as a snack. The hips aren't the only useful part of the rose plant—rose petals have long been used in Middle Eastern cuisine to make rose water

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2-9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, fertile, well-draining soil.
5
of 17

American Groundnut (Apios americana)

A vining plant with a complex, light pink flower

Adam Peterson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The American groundnut is a shade-tolerant perennial vine that has never become as popular as it should, considering how useful it is as a crop. It produces edible tubers and seed pods, along with interesting reddish-pink flowers. This North American native grows in vines that reach up to six feet long, and can be trained to grow on trellises or left alone to grow as a ground cover. It produces flowers and seed pods during the summer, and the tubers, which have been compared to a nutty-tasting potato, can be dug up in the fall. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, or preferably partial shade in zones 7-10.
  • Soil Needs: Prefers moist, fertile, well-draining soil.
6
of 17

Common Fig (Ficus carica)

Close-up of a fig on a tree

Santiago Urquijo / Getty Images

The common fig is a popular fruit tree that's native to southwest Asia but commonly planted across North America. With big, glossy leaves and succulent fruit, it can be both an attractive foliage tree and a productive part of a home garden. It grows especially well in the warmer climates of the southern United States, and it a good choice for small yards, since it rarely exceeds 30 feet in height, with a spread of 15 to 20 feet. Its fruit can be used in sweet desserts and jellies, as well as in salads or pork marinades. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5-10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Prefers sandy-clay loam; tolerates most soil types.
7
of 17

Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

Swiss chard with purple and yellow stems in a garden

Kim Peterson / Getty Images

Swiss chard is a leafy annual vegetable (biennial in zones 6-10) that is often overshadowed by its more popular cousins like kale and spinach. Among the leafy greens, though, chard is the outlier thanks to its colorful foliage. It ranges in color from red to yellow to purple, and can make a colorful border plant around garden beds. It can be planted in either fall or spring, and tolerates both heat and frost. Chard seed capsules often have two seeds in them, so if both bloom, just cut off one to make sure the other plant reaches maturity. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 6-10 (biennial); 3-10 (annual).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, fertile, well-draining soil.
8
of 17

Garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Nasturium blooms
Aimin Tang / Getty Images

Nasturtiums are a flowering annual plant (perennial in zones 9-11) that's popular for its showy flowers. But many gardeners may not realize these blooms are edible, as are its leaves. Both have a peppery flavor and can be eaten fresh in salads or pickled. Its flowers grow throughout the summer, and its leaves have a unique shape reminiscent of water lilies. It is best grown from seed, and does not transplant successfully.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2-11 (annual); 9-11 (perennial).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, or, preferably, partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Grows best in poor soil with good drainage; not overly dry, moist or fertile.
9
of 17

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)

Clusters of ripe serviceberries

Akchamczuk / Getty Images

The downy serviceberry is small tree with both edible berries and delicate white flowers. It grows to 15-25 feet in height with a 15-25 foot spread at maturity. In summer, it produces a berry-like fruit that is highly prized by birds and enterprising gardeners, since it can be used in jellies and pies. Also called saskatoon, juneberry, shadbush, or sugar-plum, serviceberry trees produce a flash of fall color when their leaves turn, and can thrive in a wide variety of sites and soils.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, acidic, well-drained soil.
10
of 17

Chives

Chive blossoms
Ken Leslie / Getty Images

Chives are a perennial, grasslike herb with attractive lilac blooms and a delicious, oniony flavor. They tend to grow in clumps and can become overcrowded, so thinning them regularly is a good idea. Growing chives near peppers can help to deter aphids and other pests and is said to improve the flavor of carrots and tomatoes when grown nearby. To enjoy both the flowers and a good harvest, consider trimming half of the shoots to promote tender regrowth while letting the other half flower. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soil.
11
of 17

Chinquapin (Castanea pumila)

Chinquapin fruit and leaves

Miguel Vieira / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

The chinquapin is a shrubby, ornamental tree native to the southeastern United States that produces small edible nuts. It's fast-growing and suited to a wide variety of soil types. It naturally grows with multiple stems, but it can be pruned to grow into a single-trunk tree if desired. The nut is covered in burs, but once its shell is cracked open the inner nut has a sweet flavor similar to chestnuts. Even if you don't plan to harvest the nuts yourself, they can attract wildlife to the yard. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 6-10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Tolerates most soils; prefers neutral, well-draining soil.
12
of 17

American Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Paw Paw fruit

Plant Image Library / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The American pawpaw is a small, deciduous tree that's native to eastern North America, and produces large, yellow-green fruit that tastes something like a cross between mango and banana. The tree is an attractive specimen that grows to about 25 feet, with dense, drooping foliage. The fruit does not store or ship well and is a rare sight in the grocery aisle, which makes the tree a unique candidate for a home orchard. Despite the tree growing readily, getting it to produce fruit can be trickier. It doesn't self-pollinate, and the flies and beetles that can pollinate it aren't that reliable. To produce fruit, it's worth growing several in close proximity and pollinating them by hand with a small paintbrush.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Slightly acidic, deep, fertile, well-draining soil.
13
of 17

American Elder (Sambucus canadensis)

Elderberries clusters growing on a bush
kacege photography / Getty Images

The American Elder, also known as the common elderberry, is a shrubby tree that produces both attractive flowers and a fruit that can be used in jam, wine, pies, and tinctures. It's native to eastern North America and Central America, and grows to a height of five to 12 feet, with a spread of five to 12 feet as well. Thanks to its small size and pretty flowers, it's a popular choice as a border tree and is often planted in groups or rows. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4-9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Tolerates most soils.
14
of 17

Passion Fruit (Passiflora edulis)

Flower on a passionfruit vine with growing fruit

Milton J. Micallef / Getty Images

Passion fruit is a perennial, tropical vine that produces a large, edible, and fragrant fruit. Its flowers are unique and complex, with white and purple coloration and a crown of corona filaments that's immediately recognizable. It produces both blooms and fruit over the summer, with the fruit maturing in late summer or early fall. Consider growing this aggressive climber on trellises, which will make training and pruning it easier. It's important to note that while passion fruit and passion flower are sometimes used interchangeably, there are more than 500 species of passion flower, and not all of them produce fruit. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Prefers well-draining, rich, loamy soil high in organic content.
15
of 17

Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Sunflowers blooming against a blue sky

Karsun Designs / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

The common sunflower is one of the most recognizable flowers in the world and the most popular in a genus of more than 70 species of flowering plants. It's an annual that grows up to 10 feet tall and produces a large, yellow flower that's a distinctive sign of summer. In fall, the flowers give way to an abundance of seeds, which can be harvested and eaten raw or roasted. In bloom, sunflowers can be very top-heavy, so consider staking them or growing them along a fence for support. If the seeds aren't harvested, they can also act as natural bird seed

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2-11 (annual).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Fertile, moist, well-draining soil.
16
of 17

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

Rhubarb stalks

cjp / Getty Images 

Rhubarb is a perennial leafy plant with large, crinkled leaves and edible stalks with a vibrant red hue. Rhubarb is best planted from a crown, which will be available from most nurseries. A backyard rhubarb patch needs several years to take hold, but once established it grows back easily every year. It's most famously used in rhubarb pie, but there are a variety of ways to employ rhubarb in the kitchen, from soups to teas. The leaves are not edible—in fact, they're toxic to humans—but they can still be composted without worry.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining, fertile, moist soil; prefers acidic soils.
17
of 17

Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana)

Light Blue Pansy Flowers
Andy Muskopf / Getty Images

Pansies are a perennial flowering plant that is usually grown as an annual, especially in cooler climates. They're an attractive flower and a garden favorite, and when they're grown organically, they're actually edible, as well. They are low-growers, reaching only four to eight inches in height, and can make a great border flower around garden beds or near rock paths. In the kitchen, they can make a unique addition to a salad, a summer drink, or a colorful and edible cake decoration.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7-11 (2-11 as an annual).
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Loose, well-draining, slightly acidic soil.

To check if a plant is considered invasive in your area, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center or speak with your regional extension office or local gardening center.