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How to Grow Healthy Nasturtiums

One of the most brightly colored of all flowers in the flower bed nasturtiums (tropaeolum majus) are an annual, and a favorite posy that your mother and grandmother enjoyed. The cream, white, yellow, orange and red flowers are low growing and are great for both containers and when planted directly in the flower bed.

Nasturtiums may be cascading, in the form of a bush, and come in a climbing form, giving the gardener a plethora of choices of shapes and forms for use in the garden. A border of nasturtiums will make any flowerbed pop with rich, vibrant color.

Nasturtiums are edible if not grown with poisonous chemicals. If you like watercress sandwiches, you’ll love nasturtium sandwiches. These edible flowers are delicious and lovely in salads with other greens.

Nasturtium flowers are used in a similar way as are capers. They add a splash of color when grown in the vegetable garden, too. Nasturtiums are said to taste peppery or like radishes. Or use the flowers to decorate a cake.

Healthy green herb salad with nasturtium flowers is something everyone would enjoy!

If you have a child that you’d like to interest in gardening, have him or her grow nasturtiums. The seeds are large and simple to see to plant. Also, the flower grows quickly, allowing for fast plant rewards for young and old gardeners alike. Nasturtiums thrive in hot weather and enjoy cool weather, too.

One of the best benefits is that butterflies and other insects love the flowers and nectar of this sturdy, colorful plant. Birds also enjoy nasturtium. Deer do not like this plant, however.

Nasturtium Varieties

cress nasturtium flowersOver 50 varieties of nasturtiums are available for us to enjoy. Choose a well-drained area with plenty of sun to plant your dwarf, standard, variegated, climbing and trailing varieties. Just be sure to plant the seeds or plants away from flowers that need constant feeding, watering and coddling.

Nasturtiums need none of that. Choose either a variety that offers a variety of colors or choose a single colored type for uniformity.

Some great companion plants for nasturtiums include:

  • Petunias
  • Cosmos.
  • French marigold.

Nasturtium flower come in colors such as orange, pink or red. The foliage may be light chartreuse or gold, as well as a lovely medium green.

A couple of popular varieties of nasturtium include:

Alaska nasturtium, which is a 12-15 inch trailing plant. The flowers are gold, red, orange and yellow, with green leaves with white speckles.

Empress of India nasturtium, which has fringed bright yellow blooms. This is a climbing nasturtium which can get up to 15 ft high and is perennial in warm gardening zones such as 9-11.

Strawberry Ice nasturtium. As the name describes, this lovely flower is deep gold color but with a splash of strawberry red at the bottom of each petal. Depending on the area where it is planted, Strawberry Ice either climbs or trails up to 16 inches long.

Nasturtium “Red Troika” has an abundance of bright red blooms on sturdy medium green plants.

Growing Nasturtiums

You may easily start your nasturtium plants indoors, which is especially convenient in places with a short growing season. Start your baby nasturtiums from seed indoors four to six weeks before the expected date of the last frost in the spring.

The seeds of nasturtiums are large, and some come coated, so they are easy to see and plant. Place the individual seeds or pairs of seeds in a container with potting soil, place in a sunny spot in your house or porch. Keep the soil evenly moist until the first seedlings emerge.

After a few weeks and when the nighttime temperatures warm up, start hardening off your small nasturtium plants outdoors, covering them if the temperature drops.

When the danger of last frost has passed the little plants can be planted outdoors or in you outdoor flower pots.

Photograph of Nasturtium flowers

Nasturtium flowers are also easily grown by directly sowing the seeds outdoors. Nasturtiums enjoy full sun, so plant the seeds in a place where they will receive six to eight hours of full sun daily.

Nasturtiums also grow in partial shade, but will not bloom as well as those planted in full sun.

Nasturtiums are perfectly happy in any type of soil, and prefer poor soils. Don’t fertilize your nasturtiums. They are so healthy that it’s not necessary unless the ground is very poor. Plant your nasturtium seeds about ½ inch deep and about 8-12 inches apart. Germination should take place in 7-10 days. They require no special care besides watering.

How to Care for Nasturtiums

Nasturtium care is easily achieved. To successfully grow nasturtiums you should:

  1. Water the plants regularly. Allow them to dry out before rewatering. Never overwater nasturtiums.
  2. Remove faded or dead flowers. Removing spent flowers keeps the plant blooming.
  3. Nasturtiums might need to be cut back if they are growing in pots. Cutting the plants back keeps the nasturtiums from taking over the container.

a macro shot of a nasturtium bloom.Pests that might bother nasturtiums are:

  • Caterpillars.
  • Beetles.
  • Slugs.
  • Aphids.
  • Whiteflies.
  • Viruses.

If you plan on eating the leaves or flowers of your nasturtiums, you’ll need to use food safe pesticides.

Growing nasturtiums remains an excellent way to get started in gardening, since the seeds are easy to plant and the flower grows and seems to thrive on neglect. Whether you are helping a child become interested in growing a garden or are an experienced gardener, try nasturtiums this growing season.

You’ll be thrilled with their bright colors, hardiness and add a lot of color to your home garden or containers.

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