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Growing Nasturtiums, An Edible Plant | Flower Patch | North American Farmer

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Growing Nasturtium Flowers

Nasturtiums: Cool Season Plants with Fiery Blooms

by Frances Santos

Growing NasturtiumsNasturtiums (tropaeolum majus) are cool season flowering plants that boast hot season flair. Many gardeners love growing nasturtiums for their showy and fragrant jewel-toned flowers that often come in rich shades of red, scarlet mahogany, pink, orange and yellow.

The flowers are open-funnel shaped with a spur resembling a tiny claw on the underside. Masses of rounded foliage poke out with pride to complement the vibrant blooms.

Many people are quite confused whether nasturtiums are considered a flower or a vegetable. Well, it is actually both. Interestingly, nasturtium’s leaves and flowers are edible. They taste a little peppery which makes a nice addition to pasta dishes and salads.

Additionally, the seed pods are also edible when they are green and young, which can be used as substitute for capers. No wonder why many gardeners not only grow nasturtiums to beautify the garden but also for their culinary use.

Nasturtium plants are easy to grow and usually grow quickly. You may use them as trailing plants for walls and climbers to add some elevation in your garden. For a dramatic effect, bushy varieties can be used for edges and borders. Canary Creeper, a climbing variety can beautifully crawl on your back fence or in pots with trellises. Other vining varieties will nicely amble up and through the shrubs.

Nasturtiums also do well in containers and make a good cut flower. Now there’s more! Did you know that nasturtiums ward off certain insects? These beauties make a useful companion plant with vegetables like pumpkin and cucumbers.

Propagating Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are grown from seed so you won’t easily find them in nurseries or as plants. No worries though because the seeds sprout easily and quickly as 7 days. Make sure to get the right variety as there are dwarf, variegated leaves and vining varieties.

Nasturtiums are annuals so it’s best to plant them in the spring after all the danger of frost has passed. Make up your mind where to plant them as they do not like being transplanted. Ideally, it’s best to start the seeds outdoors. Choose a location with average and well-drained soil. Interestingly, nasturtiums prefer semi-neglected areas. You’re right! These plants do not like pampering. Feeding them during growing season will result to huge plants, green leaves but you won’t get a lot of flowers.

They also love full sun so scout out a well-lit location. If not, they don’t flower much. Okay, let’s start! Plant nasturtium seeds 1/2 inch deep into the soil with 10 to 12 inches of spacing in between. Moisten the soil and you’re good to go. Nasturtiums tend to take care of themselves once planted.

How To Grow Nasturtiums

If you love a dramatic transformation in your patio or lawn, growing nasturtiums can easily cheer up your surroundings. They are so pretty, but they are not needy plants. Growing them is a breeze. In fact even beginners can grow them in clusters without breaking a sweat. They just need full sun, meaning more than 6 hours of sun exposure every day. Partial shade is advised if your location is too hot and humid. Regular watering is not necessary, as these plants like soil on the dry side. You may add fertilizer in mid season for optimum growth.

Nasturtiums bloom 35 to 40 days after they sprout, which will last when frost arrives. Maintain their clean appearance and encourage flowering by deadheading spent blooms. Nasturtiums usually do not survive frost. If fall arrives and they are still blossoming, protect them during cold nights. You may cover the plants or move the container indoors.

Nasturtium Diseases

Aphids tend to attack nasturtiums. Other pests may include slugs, caterpillars and flea beetles. Molds and fungal diseases may affect the plants if the weather is too hot and humid. Avoid using fungicides and insecticides if you are growing nasturtiums as food and use insecticidal soap instead. Choose a brand without harmful chemicals.