Nasturtium, scientifically known as Tropaeolum, is a vibrant and versatile annual flower. It features attractive round leaves and showy, trumpet-shaped flowers that come in a range of colors, including shades of orange, yellow, and red. Nasturtiums can be climbing or trailing, depending on the variety, and they add a beautiful touch to gardens, borders, and hanging baskets.
Origin: Nasturtiums are native to South America and were introduced to Europe in the 16th century.
Usage: Nasturtiums are primarily grown for their ornamental value, but they also have culinary uses. Both the leaves and flowers are edible and have a peppery flavor, making them a delightful addition to salads, garnishes, and even as a natural food coloring.
Interesting facts: Nasturtiums are known for their ability to attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies to the garden. They also have natural pest-repellent properties, acting as a trap crop for aphids and other pests.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Nasturtiums are relatively easy to grow and require minimal care.
Temperature and Light: Nasturtiums thrive in full sun to partial shade. They prefer temperatures between 60°F and 70°F (15°C to 21°C) but can tolerate a wide range of conditions.
Soil: Nasturtiums prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. They can adapt to various soil types but thrive in moderately fertile soil. Avoid overly rich soil, as it can promote excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.
Water: Nasturtiums have moderate water needs. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings to prevent root rot.
Planting: Nasturtiums can be started from seeds or purchased as seedlings. Here are the steps for growing them:
Seeds: Sow the seeds directly in the garden after the last frost date in your area. Plant them 1/2 inch deep and 10-12 inches apart. Water gently after planting.
Seedlings: If using seedlings, transplant them into the garden after the last frost date. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball, place the seedling in the hole, and backfill with soil. Water gently to settle the soil.
Maintenance: Nasturtiums are generally low-maintenance, but a few practices can help keep them healthy and blooming:
Watering: Water regularly, especially during dry periods. Avoid overhead watering, as it can promote disease. Water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry.
Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the plants to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.
Deadheading: Remove faded flowers to encourage continuous blooming. Pinch off or cut the stems just above a leaf node or where the stem meets the main plant.
Fertilization: Nasturtiums are light feeders and do not require heavy fertilization. If the soil is poor, you can incorporate compost or a balanced fertilizer into the soil before planting. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can result in lush foliage but fewer flowers.
Pests and Diseases: Nasturtiums are generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, aphids and caterpillars may occasionally be a problem. Monitor the plants regularly and use organic pest control methods if necessary.
HARVESTING AND PROPAGATION
Harvesting: Nasturtium flowers and leaves can be harvested for culinary purposes. Pick the flowers and young leaves in the morning when the flavors are the most intense. Gently pluck the flowers and leaves from the stems. Rinse them thoroughly before using them in salads or other dishes.
Propagation: Nasturtiums can be easily propagated from seeds. Here's how:
Collecting Seeds: Allow some flowers to mature and develop seed pods. The pods will turn brown and dry out. Once fully dry, carefully collect the seeds by gently rubbing the pods between your fingers or by cutting the seed heads and placing them in a paper bag.
Storing Seeds: Store the collected seeds in a cool, dry place until you're ready to plant them. Make sure to label the seeds with the date and variety.
Planting Seeds: Nasturtium seeds can be sown directly in the garden or started indoors before the last frost date. Sow the seeds 1/2 inch deep and space them 10-12 inches apart. Water gently after planting.
Seedling Care: Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes around 7-10 days. Once the seedlings have developed a few sets of leaves, thin them out if they are too close together, leaving the strongest ones spaced properly.
Transplanting: If you started the seeds indoors, transplant the seedlings into the garden after the last frost date. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball, place the seedling in the hole, and backfill with soil. Water gently to settle the soil.
- Common name: Nasturtium
- Latin name: Tropaeolum
- Growth habit: Climbing or trailing annual flower
- Flower appearance: Showy, trumpet-shaped flowers
- Flower colors: Various shades of orange, yellow, and red
- Height: Varies depending on the variety, typically 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) for compact varieties and up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) for climbing types
- Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade
- Soil type: Well-draining soil, pH 6.0-7.5
- Watering: Regular watering, keep soil evenly moist
- Maintenance: Low maintenance, regular deadheading and minimal fertilization
- Uses: Ornamental gardens, borders, hanging baskets, culinary purposes