Multipurpose Ornamental Plants

Multipurpose Ornamental Plants
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The plants mentioned in this article serve a multitude of functions. They have ornamental foliage and flowers, they can be used for culinary and/or medicinal purposes and they attract a plethora of wildlife to your yard. The following is a listing of my top ten favorite multipurpose ornamental plants all of which I have growing in my USDA Zone 10 garden in subtropical SE Florida.
False Roselle (Hibiscus acetosella)

-ornamental flowers

-edible flowers

-Japanese maple-type burgundy foliage

-leaves can be eaten in salads or stir-fires

-AKA red-leaf hibiscus, bronze hibiscus

The September 2003 issue of Better Homes and Gardens shows false Roselle in a planting along with yellow-green ornamental grasses and silver-leaved Artemisia. I have mine planted along side a giant clump of lemon grass.

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

-AKA sun choke

-wonderful 8Â’ tall plants

-long lasting miniature sunflower like flowers

-attracts lots of beneficial insects

-edible tubers can be used raw or cooked in a variety of culinary creations.

Jerusalem artichokes have no problem growing during our hot and humid south Florida summers although they donÂ’t start to flower until the early fall. They grow extremely tall, I have mine planted next to 8Â’ tall sections of lattice trellis for support. They are a perennial that spreads prolifically unless you harvest every last bit of the tuber. This is not a problem if you are growing the plant to harvest the tubers for culinary purposes but I would not recommend growing it for solely ornamental purposes unless you have a large piece of land.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

-wonderful ornamental plant with prolific flowers

-edible leaves

-edible flowers

-immature seed pods are edible and can be preserved and eaten like capers.

My favorite variety is Alaska which has beautiful variegated cream and green colored foliage.

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus ‘burgundy‘)




-dried seed pods

WhatÂ’s a vegetable doing on this list you may ask!?! IÂ’m talking about the burgundy variety of okra. It gets pretty hollyhock-like flowers. You can eat the immature seed pods in a variety of dishes including my favorite - chicken gumbo. The mature seed pods can be harvested for their seeds and planted for next years crop. The mature seed pods with the seeds removed can be dried and used in a plethora of dried arrangements and potpourri blends.

Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘variegata’)

-edible leaves and flowers

-variegated foliage

-use fresh leaves in your culinary creations

-use dried leaves in medicinal teas

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)

-wonderful fruity scent

-edible flowers

-edible leaves

-leaves used in tea

-attracts butterflies

Pineapple Sage Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter - chilled

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons pineapple sage leaves - minced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife or two knives until it resembles the texture of coarse cornmeal. Stir in the milk and the pineapple sage leaves. Spray 18 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup approximately 3/4 of the way with the scone batter. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 18 scones.

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)

-edible flower petals

-use fresh or dried petals in lotions

-use dried petals in potpourri

-wonderful ornamental plant

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

-edible leaves and flowers

-evergreen-like plant in USDA Zones 7-10

-use dried leaves in potpourri or tea

-used medicinally for nervous exhaustion, headaches and migraines

lizards like to hide in the base of the plants which provides endless hours of entertainment for the neighborhood kids that like to see who can be the first to catch one.

Rosemary Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

1/2 cup confectionerÂ’s sugar

1 cup unsalted butter - room temperature

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped pistachios

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves - minced

additional confectionerÂ’s sugar for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the sugar and the softened butter using a large mixing spoon. Add the flour 3/4 cup at a time. Add the vanilla extract, pistachios and rosemary and mix until well blended. Roll the dough into large marble sized pieces using 1 level tablespoon of the dough and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the oven and bake for 17 to 20 minutes until light brown. After the cookies have been removed from the oven and have cooled off slightly roll each one in confectioner’s sugar. This recipe makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)

-ornamental foliage

-wonderful flowers

-leaves and flowers can be eaten like chives

-bulbs can be cooked and eaten like scallions

-has a wide range of medicinal uses

Society garlic makes a wonderful edging plant for your garden beds. I purchased my plants from the Home Depot.

Winter tarragon (Tagetes lucida)

-edible leaves for recipes and tea

-miniature marigold flowers

-aromatic leaves for potpourri

-AKA Mexican mint marigold

-medicinally used to treat diarrhea, indigestion and nausea

Try growing one or more of these wonderful multipurpose ornamental plants in your own garden. The next time you are thinking of adding plants to your landscape research additional varieties which have multiple uses.


About The Author

Lynn has written herbal articles for a variety of publications including The Herb Companion, Backyard Home, and Llewellyn Publications yearly Herbal Almanac. She is also the founder and manager of Herb Witch, an online community for herbalists, cooks, gardeners, green witches and anyone with an interest in herbs. The Herb Witch website, which you can visit Here.

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