Rising nasturtiums for a vigorous backyard

Do you want something festive and delicious? Nasturtium flowers perfectly embody the vibrancy of summer with their bright red, yellow and orange and strong, peppery taste. You'll love how fast-growing nasturtiums will fill empty spaces in your garden – and your plate!

Nasturtiums can be used almost anywhere and are ridiculously easy to grow. They climb fences, wide walls, edge flower beds, cover the ground and much more. They are tolerant of drought and poor soil, do not need fertilizers, and are rarely affected by pests. They're also great choices for growing microgreens. You can fit this "Plant and Go" flower into any available space.

Every part of the nasturtium plants is edible except for the roots. The leaves and flowers have a strong peppery flavor that adds flavor to salads, pasta, cakes, and even soft cheeses. They are also high in nutritional value, high in vitamin C, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. Historically, this edible plant was used medicinally (and valued for its peppery taste!).

Whether you want to liven up your garden, flavor your food, or eat something healthy, this is the plant for you. Nasturtium is an all-in-one plant that is perfect for any garden!

Good products for growing nasturtiums:

Brief instructions for care

When you grow nasturtiums, you get a beautiful ornamental item with edible flowers. Source: Weed Forager

Common Name (s) Nasturtium, nasturtium, nasturtium, Indian cress
Scientific name Tropaeolum spp.
Days to harvest 4-6 weeks
light Full to partial sun; Light shadow
Water: Medium; drought tolerant
ground Good drainage, low fertility soil
fertilizer No fertilizer
Pests Aphids, cabbage moths
Diseases Bacterial leaf spot, wither

Everything about nasturtiums

Tropaeolum majus & # 39; Phoenix & # 39;Some varieties, like “Phoenix” here, are pretty impressive. Source: Swallowtail Garden

If you search for "nasturtium" on the internet, you will find two completely different plants with that name. The nasturtium genus is actually watercress, not the upbeat flowers we grow. Watercress is closely related to mustard and contains an oil that is also found in nasturtium flower buds (hence the common name). The flowers we're talking about are called nasturtiums just by their common name. Their genus is Tropaeolum, which includes over 50 different species.

Nasturtium varieties are either climbing, bushy, or trailing. Climbing varieties spread quickly over a fence, tree stump, or even a hill. They produce fewer but larger flowers than the bush species. Bush and trailing nasturtiums are great for adding a quick, colorful mass to a bed or as a ground cover. All species grow well in containers.

Tropaeolum majus is your common garden nasturtium that normally climbs and that we will focus on in this article. The other species you'll hear about the most is Tropaeolum minus, which looks very similar to the Majus species but is generally of the dwarf bush type. Care for the rest of the species is pretty similar, but the plants can vary in size, growth rate, flower appearance, etc.

Nasturtium is a warm weather plant because it is native to the Andes in South America. However, it is also annual so it can grow in areas as cold as Zone 2 in the summer. If planted after the frost, it will enjoy a long flowering period from May to September. The plants die in the fall, but usually self-seed and reappear the following spring.

Many gardeners only grow nasturtiums for their ornamental value. The funnel-shaped flowers are vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and even pinks. Each delicate petal is peppered with variety. Its peppery floral scent attracts butterflies.

In contrast to many similar garden plants, nasturtiums can be easily recognized by their leaves. They are round and slightly scalloped with star-shaped veins. You could say they look like green parasols open in the sunlight.

Plant nasturtiums

You can grow nasturtiums outside when the spring frost is gone. They can be started indoors about a month earlier. Nasturtiums don't transplant well, however, so you'll want to use biodegradable pots that fit right in the ground.

Before deciding where to grow nasturtiums, take a look at the seed packet. The size varies by variety, with some being 10 feet tall and others only 1. Nasturtiums are typically up to 3 feet wide, so they also need adequate horizontal space.

Nasturtium plants are great for containers or window boxes. Be sure to choose pots that are large enough for the variety and have drainage holes. If you are using a climbing nasturtium, the container must hang or have a lattice.

Nasturtium seeds have thick shells, which can make germination quite a hassle. We can speed up germination and increase the germination rate by scarifying and soaking the seeds. To scarify them, make a small incision in each seed coat, being careful not to damage the embryo inside. The goal is to help the seeds absorb water faster. When you find the round and split point on the trunk that was attached to the ovary, make the cut on the opposite side to avoid hitting the embryo. Then soak the seeds in warm water for 2-4 hours. Start sowing immediately after soaking.

Sow the seeds half an inch deep and 12 inches to 36 inches apart, depending on the variety. In just 7-12 days, you will have a few nasturtium sprouts ready to take on the garden!


Red nasturtiumsFlowers bloom in a variety of colors, like these red nasturtiums. Source: Andres Bertens

Planting was by far the hardest part of growing nasturtiums (if you could call it that difficult!). It's so easy to grow nasturtiums that caring for them becomes a breeze.

Sun and temperature

Grow nasturtiums in full sun for optimal blooms and green foliage. Although these plants like the sun, they prefer cooler temperatures during the growing season. You may need to add some partial shade during the hottest part of the day to keep plants from sunburn or stress. Ideally, the floor temperature should be 55-75 ° F. This plant can only survive temperatures as low as 20-30 ° F, even without frost.

Water and moisture

Nasturtiums are drought tolerant, but still appreciate even watering. Keep the soil moist but not soaked, and they should be happy to grow for you. Depending on how hot it is outside, you will likely water them 1-2 times a week.

To prevent pests and diseases, only water at the base of the plant, e.g. B. with a drinking hose. If your nasturtium plants are growing in a pot, use a watering can with a long, thin spout that can prick between the leaves and soil mix. Nasturtium plants are mostly impartial to moisture unless they are extreme.


One of the best things about this plant is that you can grow nasturtiums in poor soil and take advantage of that non-plantable garden space. As long as the soil is well drained, nasturtiums don't really care about texture or fertility. Indeed, fertile soil will reduce flowering. These plants are flexible in terms of pH, but prefer a slightly acidic mixture.


The fertilization reduces the flowering here, so that we save valuable garden time and skip it.


Pruning is great for keeping your lovely flowers and leaves in check. For bush varieties, cut back long stems to encourage bushy, green growth and keep the shape compact. Vines that exceed their limits should also be pruned.

Keep the plants healthy by cutting off used nasturtium flowers and old, dying, or diseased nasturtium leaves. When the process is complete, be sure to remove all clippings from the floor.

Climbing nasturtium varieties should be trained to climb unless they are in a hanging basket. Provide a sturdy trellis or fence and carefully sprinkle any stray vines on it. Loosely tie stubborn vines to the trellis with a scrap of fabric if necessary, and remove them when the vine begins to climb on its own.


Since they are annuals, nasturtiums are most efficiently propagated by seeds. These plants are easy to self-sow. As long as there are pollinators in place, you should see seedlings next spring.

If you want to share your plants (or get free plants from your neighbor), nasturtiums grow from cuttings. You will need a 3 inch section of stem from the top of the plant with a few knots and leaves on it. Cut all of the leaves 1 to 2 inches from the bottom, cut the end of the stem at an angle, and tape the cut in poor soil, perlite, or water. Keep it moist and you will see roots in 2-3 weeks. After that, you can transplant your new nasturtiums into the garden.

Harvesting and storing

NasturtiumsSome nasturtiums have a climbing habit. Source: Andres Bertens

Nasturtiums bloom all summer, so you will have a fertile harvest. Here are our top tips for harvesting your crops and preserving the flowers for more gardening.


You can start harvesting the foliage when the nasturtium is 6 inches tall and blooms as soon as it blooms. Gather your nasturtium flowers and leaves like an herb. Use clean, sharp scissors to cut off the parts you want as needed. To keep the plant healthy and actively growing, never remove more than ⅔ at a time and try to harvest the older foliage. However, when used as a side dish, younger flowers, leaves, and stem tips taste best.

Leave some flowers untouched towards the end of the growing season if you want the nasturtium plants to self-sow for the next year. If the plant dies in the fall, remove it from the garden, roots, and everything to prevent pests from hibernating there.


To keep freshness, while washing the flowers, wait until you want to cook with them or try them. Use the flowers and leaves raw for salads and side dishes. If you want to cook them like stirring, add them at the very end. Cook with nasturtium seeds like capers and use them to season sauces, cheese or potato salad.

Store unused nasturtiums in a sealed container in the refrigerator and try to use them within 5 days. Nasturtium flowers wither soon after they are harvested. So stick them in water like a cut flower to keep their shape. This way, they can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

You can dry your nasturtiums for long-term storage. Spread them out on a paper towel in a warm place in your kitchen. Leave them there for a couple of days, flipping them occasionally until completely dry. When all of the moisture is gone, place the flowers in airtight containers and store them in a cool, dark place. Dried flowers last 1-3 years, but are best consumed within the first year.


Nasturtiums on the hillsideNasturtiums can make a great hillside planting. Source: Weed Forager

Most problems with nasturtiums can be solved by neglecting them a little more (usually it's the opposite in the garden!). However, we're going to take a closer look at some of the most common problems.

Growing problems

When your nasturtium plants start turn yellow and die backThey are likely to be too hot, especially in summer. Give them some shade in the afternoon or transplant them to a cooler place. You can prune back damaged foliage as needed.

Another common problem is one Absence of nasturtium flowers. This can happen for a number of reasons. First, it could be that the soil is too fertile for their tastes. Another reason is the temperature. Flowers don't appear until the plant is 4-6 weeks old and the temperature gets hot. Nasturtiums need at least a few hours of sunlight each day to produce flowers.


The unique scent of nasturtium flowers attracts Aphids. Usually this is a pain, but many gardeners use this attribute to their advantage. If aphids are caught early, they can easily be removed with a powerful jet of water. Nasturtiums can withstand this well, so they're often planted to distract aphids from more vulnerable plants. If the aphids get out of hand and the hose doesn't work, try organic insecticidal soap, neem oil, or ladybirds.

Nasturtiums are also a great trap fruit for Cabbage moths. These insects usually target Brassica plants, so nasturtiums would be ideally planted next to the vegetable garden. Once your nasturtiums have attracted the moths or their caterpillars, use BT, pyrethrin spray, or diatomaceous earth to remove them from the garden.


Bacterial leaf spot is a Pseudomonas infection that creates water-soaked lesions on foliage. It is usually caused by high humidity and a lack of airflow between the leaves. To prevent this from happening, keep your nasturtiums thinned and dry. Once established, there is no cure for this disease, so you need to remove the infected parts. Use a copper fungicide on the rest of the plant to prevent the disease from spreading to the rest of the garden.

The Pseudomonas bacteria can also attack nasturtium roots and cause the entire plant to do so wilt. Your nasturtiums may also turn yellow, ooze when cut, and have black streaks on the stems. The key to prevention here is soil health. Clean up debris, do not flood the soil, and change crops every year. All diseased plants, including their roots, should be removed from the garden immediately.

frequently asked Questions

Tropaeolum majus close-upThis close-up provides a glimpse of the center of a nasturtium flower. Source: vanhookc

Q: Where do nasturtiums grow best?

A: You should grow nasturtiums somewhere in the garden with full sun, cooler afternoon temperatures, and fertilizer-free soil.

Q: Do nasturtiums come back every year?

A: No, nasturtiums are only annual. However, the nasturtium flowers spread their seeds around the garden every fall, so you may end up with more annuals in the spring that are just as easy to grow for that peppery taste.

Q: Do nasturtiums need to climb?

A: Just a few varieties. Other nasturtiums are bushy or dragging, which makes gardening easier. However, all species bloom well in containers or window boxes.

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