Those that are looking to add a wild pop of color to their garden will love nasturtiums. Coming in an array of deep reds and oranges, these flowers are incredibly easy to grow from seed. Learn more about when to plant nasturtiums and how to care for them.
When to plant nasturtiums: Nasturtiums are an excellent addition to any garden. These bright flowers should be planted in the spring, just after the last frost date. For most areas, this will be sometime in May. Nasturtium seeds only take about a week to germinate and after that, they grow fairly quickly. The blooms should last for most of the summer as long as you cut off any dead flowers. While these plants do attract a lot of aphids, many gardeners will take advantage of this attraction and plant nasturtiums next to vegetable crops. Then, the aphids will eat the nasturtiums and not your vegetables.
There are both bush types of nasturtiums and trailing ones. Bush flowers are great for small areas while trailing nasturtiums are perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes. It is relatively easy to save the seeds for the following year. Simply let them dry and collect them for the next spring. Nasturtiums have the added bonus of being edible. You can use both the flowers and the foliage in salads, soups, and sauces. They have a slightly spicy flavor to them. While easy to care for, you may need to water more in the summer when there are very hot temperatures as the flowers can become heat-stressed.
Planting Nasturtiums in Different Climates
Nasturtiums will do well in a tropical climate. Even though they can be drought-tolerant, they thrive better in moist soil.
If you live in an area that doesn’t have a threat of frost in the winter, you may even be able to grow nasturtiums as a perennial, instead of the traditional annual growth.
Those that love nasturtiums but who live in a dry climate should plant these flowers in containers. They will thrive in such spaces and you can better monitor the amount of watering.
Nasturtiums are great for a temperate climate. The steady rainfall in the spring is great for the soil and the milder summer weather means your flowers won’t die off under the stress of a heat wave.
While you can grow nasturtiums in a continental climate, extra precaution needs to be taken during the summer. Give the flowers extra water during a heat wave and don’t let the soil dry out. Otherwise, the flowers and foliage can start to shrivel up.
You can maybe try nasturtiums in a polar climate. However, if there isn’t a lot of sunlight, the blooms will be less vibrant.
Choosing Nasturtiums Seeds
There are two categories of nasturtiums to choose from. Climbing types will grow long stems that can even be trained up a trellis. In contrast, bush types are more compact.
If you have a window box or a hanging basket, you can plant trailing nasturtiums for a more exciting effect. Bush nasturtiums are an excellent choice if you are short on space.
This is a list of specific types of nasturtiums you can try out:
An heirloom variety, it has green foliage with thin white stripes down the middle. They produce flowers that are yellow, cherry red, and pale orange.
Unlike traditional nasturtiums, this variety has a deep red color that almost looks black. Inside the petals is a dash of yellow which makes the contrast even more striking.
If you love flowers in an orange hue, this is a great variety. It is a trailing type of nasturtium and the curved blooms are interesting to look at.
This variety of nasturtiums has petals that flute out and look almost like the tail of a phoenix bird. The flowers come in a range of soft yellows, oranges, and reds.
How to Plant Nasturtiums Seeds
Nasturtiums are incredibly easy to grow and you can plant them in many different areas. They are perfect if you want a container garden on your balcony or if you want more ground cover.
Because of their bright colors, nasturtiums attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Try to plant them near crops that need pollinators or just in an area where you can see such gorgeous insects as they land on your nasturtiums.
Nasturtiums require full sun if you want to take advantage of their colorful blooms. While you can grow them in partial shade, they won’t have that vibrant color you’re looking for.
One benefit of nasturtiums is that they are fine in poor soil. You don’t have to take the time to amend your soil before planting and you most likely won’t have to add any fertilizer.
You have two choices when starting nasturtiums from seed. You can either start them indoors or directly sow them in your garden.
If you are giving them a head start indoors, plant your nasturtium seeds in the spring, just two to four weeks before the threat of frost is over. Then, transplant two weeks after the last spring frost date.
For direct sowing, plant the seeds in the ground right after the last spring frost date. Nasturtiums germinate very quickly so you will know within a week whether your seeds took or not.
Nasturtium seeds are relatively large and are about the size of a pea. To plant them, simply poke them into the soil at a depth of about half an inch.
Try to space the seeds out by 10 inches as the plants will grow rather thickly as they mature.
How to Water Nasturtiums
You have a bit of leeway when it comes to watering your nasturtiums. While these plants prefer slightly moist soil, they are also fairly drought tolerant.
Try to strike a good balance between watering and aiming for a regular schedule. It is even more important to water during the height of summer.
When it becomes too hot out, and there isn’t enough water, nasturtiums will become heat-stressed. This will result in a pause in blooming and the foliage might start to curl up from the heat.
How to Grow Nasturtiums
On the whole, nasturtiums don’t usually need fertilizer. They are fine in poorer soil, so they are relatively maintenance-free.
If you do feel like your soil is particularly poor, you can add some fertilizer. However, make sure it is not high in nitrogen as this will promote foliage growth and not flower growth.
Nasturtiums are large attractors of aphids. While this can seem like a downside at first, you can actually use it to your advantage.
Plant nasturtiums next to your vegetable garden and they will draw aphids away from your more valuable crops. While you may lose your nasturtiums in the process, you will save the vegetables that you have spent so long growing.
Nasturtiums can continue to bloom throughout the summer but you may need to trim them back to do so. The more you cut off dead flowers or faded ones, the more that will grow back.
Pruning is especially important if you have nasturtiums in a container. Trim them back every few weeks to encourage growth all summer long.
How long do nasturtiums take to grow?
Nasturtium seeds only take about a week to germinate. After this, they will start to grow quite fast.
You can expect nasturtium flowers about a month after planting. Then, as long as you water and deadhead the flowers, they will continue to grow for the rest of the summer.
Can you eat nasturtiums?
There are actually quite a few types of flowers that you can eat and nasturtiums belong to this category. Their petals are edible and have a nice, spicy taste to them.
You can eat both the leaves and the petals of nasturtiums. Popular dishes include a salad garnish or a sauce or dip. If you have large nasturtium leaves, you can even use them like grape leaves and stuff them as a dish.
How do you harvest nasturtiums?
Those that want to grow nasturtiums for eating purposes can pick them at any time. The leaves and flowers can be used in cooking once they grow but if you pick them at the height of a summer heat wave, the flavor will be spicier.
Those that want to save seeds for later should harvest the seedpods once they are fully mature. These seeds can then be used for your garden the following year.
Simply let the seeds dry out while still attached to the plant. Collect them, dust off the soil, and put them in an envelope in a cool, dark place.
Nasturtiums are easy to grow flower that produces vibrant blooms in rich oranges and reds. These flowers and leaves are also edible. Plant your nasturtium seeds just after the last spring frost date for a burst of color all summer long.