Growing Nasturtiums And How To Care For The Nasturtium Flower

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The Nasturtium flower is a long-time favorite treasured for its bright colors (like coleus plants) and low-maintenance hardiness. You’ll find a wide number of nasturtium varieties available to suit every gardening need.

From Central and South America, these plants belong to the Tropaeolaceae family named by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus.

orange nasturtium flowerPin

From bushy growers to vigorous trailing and climbing nasturtiums, you are sure to find a variety just perfect for your garden.

The beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers and round lily-like leaves offer more than what just meets the eye.

In this article, we’ll share tips on growing Nasturtiums to help you plant, care for and use nasturtiums. Read on to learn more.

Planting The Easy To Grow Nasturtium Plant Couldn’t Be Easier

Nasturtiums are easy-to-grow plants in all climates. Choose your planting time depending on your weather. If you live in a year-round, temperate climate, you can plant them at any time.

Otherwise, plant them after all danger of frost passes in the springtime for abundant and beautiful blooms and edible leaves, and like the heat-loving Lantana plant, enjoys blossoms throughout the late spring and summer and into the fall.

Nasturtium plants don’t do well with transplanting, so plant nasturtium seeds right where you plan on growing them.

Use peat pots if you plan to start them indoors under plant grow lights in the wintertime and then transplant them in the late spring.

You can plant these directly into the ground without damaging the roots of your nasturtium seedlings.

Growing Nasturtium From Seeds Indoors

When starting nasturtium seeds indoors, begin a month to six weeks before the last spring frost.

Otherwise, wait until all danger of frost passes and plant your seeds outdoors in well-drained, moist soil in an area that gets ample sun. 

While nasturtiums will grow in the partial shade, you will not get as many blooms.

Planting Nasturtium Seeds Directly In The Ground

When planting nasturtium seeds directly into the ground, prepare the seed coat in advance. This will give your seed a little head start for germination.

To prepare the seeds for germination, soak them overnight (like the moonflower) in warm water or in a seaweed solution.

You can nick the hull of the seed or sand it down a bit to expose the creamy inner seed for more successful germination.

Be sure to plant your seeds right away to give them the best chances for success.

Soil preparation is easy. Simply till and make sure to remove all remnants of weeds.

You do not need to amend the soil as nasturtiums do well in poorer soil moist and will not bloom as well in rich soil.

For best results, plant in an area full of partial sun and protected from the wind.

Remember, these plants grow and spread fast, so leave plenty of space in between your seeds so they grow well. Plant seed about half an inch deep and spaced between 10″ and 12″ inches apart.

You should see results within a week to ten days. If you want your nasturtiums to climb a trellis in your planting area, begin training your vines once they become well-established.

The 50 different available kinds of nasturtiums all have one thing in common. 

They love 3 things:

  • Full to partial sun
  • Rather poor soil
  • Excellent drainage

This setting results in generous quantities of large and gorgeous blooms.

Related: Meadow Sage, aka Salvia Plant Care

Tips For Growing Nasturtium Varieties

You’ll discover many different nasturtium varieties, all well-received; however, the plain old-fashioned variety Tropaeolum magus seems to remain the most popular.

They create a lovely and cheery sight spilling from hanging baskets and billowing over window boxes or planted as low-growing bushy plants.

Lush vivid nasturtium flowersPin

When included in your vegetable garden, the humble nasturtium work as a trap crop for natural organic aphid control, drawing aphids away from your veggies and providing a bit of peppery flavoring for your salads.

The Best Types of Nasturtiums For Your Garden?

Some of the best varieties of nasturtiums to add to your garden for color include:

  • Salmon Baby – This distinctive variety adds a gorgeous splash of color to any garden setting.
  • Variegatus – This trailing nasturtium dazzles the eye with brilliant orange and red flowers.
  • Peach Melba – Add contrast to your garden setting with Peach Melba and an abundantly blooming heirloom variety that produces creamy yellow flowers sporting orange/red centers.

The Best Nasturtiums For Container Gardens and Small Garden Beds

For container gardens and small garden beds, dwarf varieties are a nice choice. These include:

  • Nasturtium Fiesta Blend
  • Alaska Variegated
  • Cherry Rose Jewel
  • Empress of India

The Best Nasturtiums For Larger Garden Settings, Trellis, and Pergolas

For larger garden settings, trellises, and pergolas, try:

  • Yellow Canary Bird Creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum)
  • Multicolor Trailing Mix
  • Red Canary Creeper
  • White Moonlight

For lots of blossoms, the Jewel of Africa series of nasturtiums (amazon) tends to have large numbers of blooms, including semi-double blooms.

Unfortunately, the blooms are sometimes hard to see because the eye-catching foliage is so vigorous.

Newer forms of variegated and dwarf nasturtiums add even more color and variety to your garden.

These also make wonderful container plant specimens and can provide an excellent contrast to plants that have solid green foliage.

One word of caution: if you are planting nasturtiums for color contrast in a container garden, be sure the other plants you use have similar fertilizer, water, and soil requirements.

Nothing Could Be Easier Than Nasturtium Plant Care!

Nasturtium maintenance is very light. Aside from regular, weekly watering, you don’t need to prune or deadhead.

Soil does not generally need to be amended as these plants do very well in lean, light, and well-drained soil.

Fertilizing tends to result in excessive foliage and fewer nasturtium flowers.

Although pruning and deadheading are not necessary to maintain healthy plants.

However, if you want to keep your plants blooming vigorously throughout the growing season, removing dead and faded flowers will help.

When growing nasturtiums like Tropaeolum majus as container plants, pruning will help them maintain their shape throughout the growing season.

Pests On Nasturtium Plants

Nasturtiums are subject to some pests, including:

  • Flea Beetles
  • Caterpillars
  • Whiteflies
  • Aphids
  • Slugs eat variegated foliage or the leaves entirely and also leave a slime trail.

Aphids tend to gather just under the leaves and flowers on the stems and at times cause a great deal of damage. Details on controlling Aphids.

Caterpillars also find Nasturtium plants very tasty, especially caterpillars that attack cabbage plants. This is a good reason to grow Nasturtiums never in the vegetable garden.

These hungry critters can quickly reduce the leaves to skeletons. Individually pick them off or use a biological control containing Bacillus thuringiensis.

Powdery mildew can also be a problem for plants grown in very warm, dry locations. Floury deposits appear on the leaves and at the base of the flowers.

Learn more about it in our article on powdery mildew control.

To deal with these, see our articles linked above and our article on all-natural insecticide recipes.

It’s important to understand that nasturtiums are not drought-hardy. Be sure not to overwater, but do keep the soil lightly moist at all times with regular once-a-week watering.

If subjected to drought conditions, nasturtiums will survive; however, they will lose their vibrant good looks.

Saving Nasturtiums Seeds For Next Year

Nasturtiums do an excellent first project for little gardeners because the seed pods are large and easy to handle, planting is easy, and results are generally quick, successful, and rewarding.

Once you buy nasturtium seeds, you’ll never need to buy them again!

At the end of the growing season, you will see that nasturtium plants produce a wealth of large seeds. Saving them is easy. Simply allow them to dry on the vine and wait for them to fall off.

Once they have fallen, gather them up, dry them for a few more days, and store them carefully in a cool, dark place.

Keep them in a paper envelope rather than in a jar or plastic bag. However, I do like mason jars to store the envelopes in. This will ensure they stay dry and do not become moldy or mildew during the winter months.

You can forgo the trouble of harvesting the seed if you are not too much of a perfectionist regarding where your nasturtiums grow because they self-seed very successfully.

You needn’t worry about them becoming too far-flung as the seeds do not fall far from the parent plant.

TIP: To facilitate collecting your nasturtium seeds, try spreading newspaper around your plants when you see that they are producing seeds.

When the seeds fall off, they will fall on the newspaper. This will keep them clean and make it easier to collect them.

Using Nasturtiums In Your Kitchen And In Your Medicine Chest

Both the leaf and the flower of nasturtiums are edible, which makes them considered an herb. In fact, all parts of garden nasturtiums (nasturtium tropaeolum majus), also called Indian cress, are edible.

The edible flowers and leaves taste the best when picked during cool weather and look for tender, young leaves. More mature leaves, grown during hot weather, carry a far spicier flavor.

The nasturtium leaf makes a nice substitute for grape leaves. You can stuff them with a mixture of savory spices, nuts, currants, and rice for an interesting variation on a traditional Greek dish.

Use large leaves as a wrap for foods such as chicken salad or tuna salad to make hors d’oeuvres or snacks.

The leaves make a nice addition to the following:

Use nasturtium flowers and leaves as a garnish for any dish. Or use nasturtiums as edible ornamentation on cakes, ice cream dishes, and other sweets.

Generally speaking, you can use nasturtium greens and flowers as you would any flavorful, fresh veggie. Just use your imagination.

7 Suggestions To Get You Started:

  1. Toss a handful of nasturtium leaves in with a stir-fry for added color and nutrition and a bright peppery taste.
  2. When making flavored vinegar, try using the blossoms, buds, and leaves for a peppery flavor.
  3. Use chopped nasturtium leaves as a substitute for green onions and/or garlic in recipes.
  4. Make a flavoring paste for dishes by grinding nasturtium leaves with garlic, chilies, and salt.
  5. Fresh blossoms are tasty and attractive, stuffed with soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, ricotta, and goat cheese. Add a dash of fresh herbs for more flavor.
  6. Make flavored butter by mincing the blossoms and adding some lemon peel. Blend this mixture into fresh butter for a taste sensation.
  7. Try substituting attractive nasturtium flowers for mustard in your next sandwich!

Always be sure to pick the blossoms just before you use them. They don’t keep well.

Take them straight from the rock garden, give them a quick rinse, and pop them right into whatever dish you are preparing.

Alternatively, you can keep them in a vase in the refrigerator for a brief period of time.

Enjoy “Poor Man’s Capers”

Pickled nasturtium buds or seeds make a great substitute for capers. To create this thrifty alternative, collect green seeds or fully closed buds with a bit of the stem left on.

Wash and drain and then cover with boiling vinegar. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and place it in a covered glass jar in your refrigerator for at least three days before using.

Use nasturtium buds just as you would the leaves. Collect only fully closed buds with a small part of the stem still attached.

These can be used exactly as you would use the leaves in the suggestions above.

Take Advantage Of Nasturtium Health Benefits

Prevent and treat colds and flu by using nasturtium leaves to brew a flavorful and highly nutritious tea. The leaves are filled with vitamin C and also possess anti-tumor and antibacterial properties.

Create a disinfectant wash for minor injuries by combining leaves and pure filtered water in your blender. Strain out the leaves and use the remaining liquid to clean minor scrapes and cuts.

Related: Uses and What To Do With Used Tea Bags

Remember To Be Nasty To Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are very hardy, attractive, and versatile flowers, and they seem to thrive on indifferent care.

For the busy and cost-conscious gardener, the carefree, beautiful, and useful Nasturtium flowers are a fine choice.

Excellent for landscaping, flower gardening, and vegetable gardening. You can eat nasturtium leaves and flowers and also use them as a decoy plant, luring aphids away from other plants in your garden.

Train easy to grow and care for nasturtiums into bushy clumps, as a ground cover, as attractive climbers, or cascading from baskets.

They don’t like excessively rich or fertile soil, and they don’t like to be watered too often.

For all of these reasons, nasturtiums are a must-have plant for any garden or yard.

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