Nasturtium Flowers – How To Grow Nasturtiums

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Nasturtium flowers are versatile; attractive in the landscape and useful in the garden. Nasturtium plants are fully edible and growing nasturtiums can be used to lure aphids away from other plants in the garden.

Nasturtium plants are easy to grow and may be climbing, cascading, or bushy. Care of nasturtiums is minimal; in fact, nasturtium plants are one of those specimens that thrive on neglect. Rich, fertile soil or too much fertilizer results in lush foliage growth and few nasturtium flowers.

The old-fashioned nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus, is popular in the garden as an edible. Use nasturtium flowers as a spiller in window boxes and hanging baskets. Plant bush-type nasturtiums as aphid traps in the vegetable garden. Growing nasturtiums may add a peppery taste to salads or decorate a cake.

Nasturtium Varieties

Easy to grow nasturtium plants come in more than 50 varieties. Whichever type you choose for the garden, plant in a full to part sun area with well-drained but otherwise poor soil for more and bigger blooms.

Dwarf and variegated nasturtium varieties add an ornamental element to small containers or mixed in with solid green foliage plants and white blooms. If using the nasturtium in a container combination, make sure the other plants do not require a lot of water or fertilizer, as the nasturtium needs little of either.

How To Grow Nasturtiums

Large seeds of nasturtium plants should be sown directly into their permanent location, as nasturtium flowers do not transplant well. If you must start seeds of nasturtium flowers and then transplant them, use peat pots which can be planted into the ground without disturbing the roots of the growing nasturtium seedling.

The seed coat may be manipulated for faster germination when growing nasturtium; nick the seed or soak overnight in lukewarm water. Plant immediately into a container or area of the garden which allows plenty of room for growth. You may place a trellis near the planting area of climbing nasturtium varieties and train the colorful vines to climb with little effort.

Now that you see the ease of how to grow nasturtiums, add several in the spring and summer landscape. Care of nasturtiums is amazingly simple, plant them and forget them, except to enjoy this perky, little flower.

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Read more about Nasturtiums

How to Grow Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtiums are annual flowering plants with funnel-like flowers containing about five petals each. There are about eighty known species and each is easily recognizable do to the bright, intense colors of the flower. The flowers are commonly shield shaped and the most common colors are red, orange, or yellow. The leaves of the plant are reminiscent of lily pads can grow 2-7 inches wide.

Growing Requirements for Nasturtium

One of the easiest plants to grow is the nasturtium plant. These flowers are usually planted in areas where nothing else could grow and are known as the hardiest plant out there. They do not usually survive transplanting but are good subjects for children’s gardens. Nasturtiums can grow in poor soil that is well drained which means they do not need to be fertilized often. In fact if the soil is too rich the plant will grow too many leaves and not many flowers.

They do well in hanging baskets and apartment planters. In climates such as California, nasturtiums can be grown year round. However, the roots of the plant can survive deep freezes. If grown outdoors the seeds should be planted in summer or even in spring. These plants grow very rapidly and will germinate between seven and ten days, and will bloom about one month after planting.

Taking Care of Nasturtium Flowers

Because nasturtiums are such hardy plants they do not need much attention. In fact they should only be watered sparingly because they will rot and die. The flowers can survive in full sunlight to bright shade. In these conditions, the nasturtiums will bloom all summer long.

Uses and History of Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are famous not only for their hardiness and ease of growth but for being an ingredient in salads and other recipes. All parts of plant are edible and have a distinct spicy taste to them. High in vitamin C, these flowers are common in soups and sauces. One should be very careful in eating these plants. Do not consume any part of a nasturtium that has come from a florist or nursery because these places use insecticides on all of their plants. If you accidentally consume any part of the plant treated with insecticide, contact a doctor immediately.

The flowers are native to Mexico and Peru and were introduced to Europe in the 16th century. It has long been considered a symbol of conquest and victory of battle. Women in the Victorian era used the plant to mask bad smells.

Nasturtium Flower Diseases and Pests

Nasturtiums have little problem concerning insects and diseases. The spicy flavor of the flower repels most insects and other animals. However, aphids may become a problem at the height of the season.

More Reputable Information on Nasturtiums

Details on the Nasturtium flower can be found at the University of Vermont website.

University of Illinois Extension covers Nasturtium: Herb Gardening

How to grow nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are ideal for lots of different sunny spots around the garden, including pots. Climbing varieties of nasturtium can be trained up vertical supports and are great to twine through other plants too. Nasturtiums that are climbers can also be used as trailers – to spread across gravel or cascade down a slope or bank. Free-draining soil is essential for nasturtiums and, unlike many other flowers, they thrive on poor soils.

Nasturtiums: jump links

More on growing nasturtiums:

Where to grow nasturtiums

Nasturtiums must have sun for at least half the day in order to grow well and do best in sites sheltered from winds. A free-draining soil is essential, and nasturtiums flower best in poor soils (that are low in fertility) as a fertile soil results in lots of leafy growth at the expense of flowers. Hence there’s no need to add fertilizer before sowing. Nasturtiums do well in gravelly or stony ground or growing on banks. In containers, mix two-thirds peat-free multi-purpose compost with one third fine gravel or grit, to reduce fertility and ensure good drainage.

In this clip from Gardeners’ World, Monty Don arranges plants for a late summer display, with a dramatic purple-leaved Phormium cookianum ‘Black Adder’ in the centre, lots of magenta-flowered Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Dazzler’, and four Bidens ‘Hawaiian Flare Orange Drop’ cascading over the rim, alongside trailing nasturtiums, Tropaeolum majus ‘Cherry Rose Jewel’. He also advises on aftercare to keep the display at peak flowering through to late autumn:

How to plant nasturtiums

For best results, sow nasturtium directly where they are to flower, as they’re fast-growing and there’s no need to bother about transplanting. Sow the seed 1.5 cm deep into moist soil to speed germination, so water before planting if conditions are dry. The first seeds can be sown in mid-spring and you can carry on sowing until mid-summer to ensure flowers right up to the first frosts. Thin the seedlings to 30 cm apart.

However, sowing in pots also works – simply sow one seed per pot and transplant outside when all risk of frost has passed.

How to care for nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are easy-care and need little maintenance. Plants growing in containers should be watered to keep the compost evenly moist, but not fed. Removing the dead flower heads of nasturtiums will encourage more blooms to be produced for a longer period.

How to propagate nasturtiums

Nasturtium seeds can be collected when ripe and saved to sow next year. In mild areas, nasturtiums are also likely to self-sow, so you may get seedlings springing up in future years. These can be easily pulled up if not wanted.

How to harvest and use nasturtiums

Nasturtium leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. The flowers make a brightly coloured garnish to salads and other uncooked dishes. Nasturtium leaves have a peppery taste and should be picked when young to incorporate in salads. Nasturtium seeds can be used as a substitute for capers and should be picked when mature but still green, for pickling in vinegar.

Growing nasturtiums: problem solving

Nasturtiums are likely to attract large and small white butterflies (known as cabbage white butterflies) which lay their large greenish eggs on the leaf undersides, which hatch into caterpillars that eat the leaves. This can be useful to deter caterpillars from eating brassica crops but not desirable if you’re growing nasturtiums for flowers. The best method of control is to inspect plants regularly and squash the eggs or young caterpillars, or move them on to plants you don’t mind being eaten. Nasturtiums are also attractive to aphids, particularly blackfly. Again, by planting nasturtiums alongside bean crops you can lure aphids away from your crop, but you may not appreciate aphids on nasturtiums you’re growing for leaves and flowers. Spray them off with a jet of water or let ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings remove them for you – all three lay their eggs on aphid colonies and their young quickly eat them up.

Sowing Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are one of the easiest plants to grow from seeds. They grow quickly and it takes about 10 to 12 days for seeds to germinate. The ideal temperature for seed germination is around 12-23°C (55–75ºF).

Nasturtium seeds are quite big and easy to handle. Since nasturtium seeds need darkness to germinate, place the seeds at about 1.5 cm (1/2 in) in the soil. Keep the soil constantly moist.

Nasturtium seedlings don’t handle being transplanted well, it’s recommended to sow them directly in their permanent place. If you’re planting them outside, sow them when all danger of frost has passed.

If you want to start nasturtiums indoors, you can sow seeds as early in the spring as possible. They handle pots and containers very well, so you can relocate the plant outside once the weather conditions are favourable for their growth.

The nasturtium is a cheerful and easy-to-grow flower! Their bold blooms and edible leaves, flowers, and seedpods make them an especially fun flower for kids to plant. Here’s how to grow your own nasturtiums!

About Nasturtiums

These lovely plants, with their unique greenery and vibrant flowers, grow well in containers or as ground cover around vegetable gardens. In fact, they are often used as a trap crop in companion planting, drawing aphids and other garden pests away from the more valuable vegetables.

Pests aren’t the only thing nasturtiums attract, however. They are also a favorite of pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and their pretty fragrance makes them a good choice for cut-flower gardens, too.

Nasturtiums are grown as annual plants in most areas, though they may perennialize in frost-free zones.

Types of Nasturtiums

There are many varieties of nasturtiums, which are divided into two main types: trailing or climbing types (Tropaeolum majus) and bush types (T. minus). As their names suggest, the main difference between them is their growth habit, with trailing nasturtiums forming long vines and bush nasturtiums remaining more compact. (Bush types are also sometimes called “dwarf” nasturtiums.)

Trailing nasturtiums are a great choice for growing in a window box or hanging basket, as their vines will drape and climb beautifully. Bush nasturtiums are a better choice for smaller gardens where space is limited.

Edible Flowers

An important feature of all nasturtiums is their edibility! Nasturtiums’ leaves, flowers, and seedpods have a peppery, almost mustard-like taste, which makes them lovely as a garnish in salads. The seedpods may also be pickled and used like capers.

Check out our video to learn more about the benefits of growing nasturtiums:

Planting Nasturtiums

The easiest way to plant nasturtiums is to direct sow the seeds in your garden or in a container. Nasturtium seeds are large, about the size of a dried pea, and need to planted fairly deep in the soil.

To get your nasturtiums started, plant the seeds about 1/2 inch in the soil after the last frost date in your area. You can plant the seeds close together, but will want to thin the plants to stand about 10 inches apart after the seedlings start to grow.

Nasturtiums produce a taproot and don’t like to have their roots disturbed, which is why direct sowing the seeds is often recommended. If you do want to get a head start on growing the plants and try transplanting them to your garden, you can plant seeds in small peat pots.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends starting seeds indoors about four weeks before the last frost date in your area. If you plant the seeds in peat pots, rather than plastic cups, you can reduce the amount of disturbance the roots experience. You’re able to simply drop the entire peat pot into the soil.

There are more than 50 types of nasturtium, according to Gardening Know How. That means there is probably a type that is perfectly suited to your garden and your garden’s needs.

Generally speaking, the plants are divided into two main types, either trailing (Tropaeolum majus) or bush (Tropaeolum minus). Trailing varieties usually grow to about three feet long, but there are some varieties, such as “Moonlight,” that produce vines up to seven feet long.

Under the right conditions, a few vining types of nasturtium will stretch to 20 feet or longer. There are also dwarf varieties that produce 12 inch or shorter vines.

Bush varieties are ideal for compact spaces, as they usually only reach about 10 or 12 inches in length. Some bush varieties, such as Empress of India, produce longer vines, which can reach up to two feet in length.

You also have a fair amount of choice when it comes to the color of the nasturtium flowers you grow. The Empress of India variety is known for its vibrant red flowers, for example. “Jewel of Africa” is a trailing variety that produces flowers in a range of colors, including light pink, yellow and orange.

When picking the type of nasturtium you want to grow, consider the space in your garden as well as how you want the flowers to look.

Watch the video: Nasturtiums Growing and Flowering 3-Month Timelapse

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