Nasturtiums are beautiful flowering plants that can make nearly any space pop. They will grow well in the garden or in pots when given enough room to spread and vine outward. Learn more about growing nasturtiums, how easy it is and how beneficial they are to every garden.
Nasturtiums are one of those plants that are perfect for the forgetful gardener. They are easy to grow and their lovely, bright flowers are able to fill in an area with less than fertile soil. They can also be planted in pots around areas you entertain in, to help repel insects. Nasturtiums can even be grown as a ground cover in areas that do not tend to grow grass well due to poor soil quality.
These gorgeous plants usually flower from summer through autumn. When the flowers are finished flowering, cut them off as this will encourage the plant to bloom for longer. Though, as the flowers, seeds and leaves from this plant are edible, you may have already used them for culinary uses before they get to this stage.
Why Grow Nasturtiums?
These attractive plants bloom abundantly, not only bringing colour and visual appeal to your garden, they are also edible plants that attract beneficial insects to your garden. This is one way to help the bees and other pollinators that are under threat, while also creating a lovely, edible garden for yourself.
Nasturtiums are wonderful companion plants for many different crops, as well act as an excellent ground cover plant, especially in drier, warmer climates as it is a drought-tolerant plant. Their lovely thick coverage and the way they are able to spread so quickly, will also help with the containment of weeds, as well as hiding unsightly walls or fencing.
Since we live in a warmer climate, we are able to grow them most of the year round, though if you get frost, plant the seeds during spring and summer after the threat of such frost is gone. We are also in a high wind area and have noticed that strong winds tend to blow the plants around a bit, but they always seems to come back.
Growing Nasturtiums from Seed
Nasturtiums are best grown from seed. You can start the seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost for larger plants and earlier blooms, or directly sow in the garden after the danger of the last frost has passed. They are known to grow well even in poor soil conditions and do not need consistent fertilisers and amendments.
To plant nasturtium from seed, place two seeds at least 1-inch deep, leaving at least 10 inches between plantings to ensure that they have room to spread as they grow. Keep the seeds well watered, and they should germinate in 10 to 12 days. After your plants have grown two sets of true leaves thin out to one plant per space.
In colder climates, nasturtiums can thrive in full sun. If you live in a hot climate that can be rough on plants, choose a space that allows your plants to have afternoon shade to protect them from the worst of the summer heat. Add plenty of mulch to help trap moisture around your plants.
These plants are quite hardy and have large seeds, which makes them a great plant for kids to help with in the garden. When each flower dies off, two or three green seeds form. If these seeds aren’t picked up and saved when they turn brown, they will fall to the ground and self-sow. Though, these seeds can be used in many ways, so it would be a good idea to collect at least some of them to use in the kitchen.
Growing Nasturtium Indoors
The trick to growing nasturtiums indoors is to make sure you give them rather barren soil. While you can be tempted to use the best potting mixes available, dirt, sand, and a little peat moss will do the trick. You can even use the dirt in your yard just fine, which is the cheapest soil option you have.
For the best results, use a large pot that is at least 10 inches to ensure that your plant has plenty of room to spread. Plant two seeds in your pot and keep well watered. These plants do needs plenty of sun to thrive, so place near a south-facing window or use a grow light to ensure your plant gets enough sun to flourish.
Nasturtiums Thrive in a Hanging Basket
Many people like to grow nasturtium in hanging baskets. These beautiful flowering plants are perfect for hanging baskets and can make your space really pop. To help your nasturtiums thrive in hanging pots, avoid using fertilisers and other amendments that can lead to your plants not flowering. Hanging pots often do not get watered as much as they should, so it is a good idea to make sure your hanging pots get enough water that will keep the soil moist. One way to help your hanging plants thrive is to add a layer of mulch over the soil to prevent the water from evaporating out of the pots.
The flowers, leaves and seeds of this plant are edible, and are able to be used in a variety of dishes.
The seeds, when harvested while green, before they harden and fall off, can be used as a substitute for capers, as well as eaten in salads and as a snack, or even ground down to make pepper. To make a delicious pepper, you can roast the seeds in the oven, before grinding them into a powder which can then be used to season dishes instead of black pepper.
The leaves, which are high in vitamin C are best picked while younger, as the older ones have a stronger and spicier taste. They can be used in salads, stir-fries, risottos, soups, juices, casseroles, pesto and even rice dishes. These leaves can also be used in teas as a preventative for colds or the flu. Another way to use the leaves is to grind them in a little water, then strain. This makes a natural disinfectant wash that can be used for minor scrapes or cuts.
Not only can the flowers be cut and used as decoration for a few days, they are also a lovely addition or garnish to salads, cheese boards, or make a lovely tasting butter when blended through. The colours of the flowers are brought to life when used in this delicious nasturtium infused vinegar.