Nasturtiums are pretty little flowers that are easy to grow. They are annuals and can be directly seeded into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. The seeds are very hard, and you can soak them the night before you plant to encourage sprouting, but it’s not necessary. You can also buy them at the garden center as a transplant, or start the seeds indoors a few weeks before planting them outside.
Nasturtiums are known for their ability to self-seed. These annual flowering plants produce abundant seeds that can drop to the ground and germinate in suitable conditions, leading to new plants.
But nasturtiums are not frost tolerant, so unless you live in zones 8 or higher, they will not survive winter months. They will tolerate partial shade, 4-6 hours of sunlight daily and need to be planted in well draining soil.
What colors do nasturtiums come in?
- Red: This is a common color for nasturtiums, ranging from deep crimson to bright red.
- Orange: Nasturtiums often exhibit shades of orange, from fiery orange to softer, peachy hues.
- Yellow: You can find nasturtiums with beautiful yellow blooms, ranging from pale yellow to vibrant golden shades.
- Cream: Some nasturtium varieties feature delicate cream-colored flowers that add a subtle touch of elegance to gardens.
- Peach: There are nasturtium cultivars with soft peach-colored blooms that add a warm and inviting touch to flower beds.
- Pink: While less common, some nasturtiums showcase lovely pink flowers, ranging from pastel shades to more intense pinks.
- Bi-colors: Certain nasturtium varieties exhibit bi-color or multi-colored blooms, combining two or more of the aforementioned colors in captivating patterns.
So, as you can see there is a color for everyone and this is what makes them a popular flower in the garden. There is also a variety for every garden. While I have always planted the vining type, they come in bush and trailing varieties. I have always grown mine up a trellis directly in my vegetable garden, but they can also be planted in containers with an obelisk, or trellis for the vining types, or over a garden arch. The trailing variety are great for hanging baskets. I have also seen them planted without support and grown as a ground cover.
Are nasturtiums edible?
But nasturtiums aren’t just pretty, they are edible. The flowers have a slightly peppery flavor, while the leaves are more pungent and resemble the taste of watercress, which is why nasturtiums are sometimes referred to as “Indian cress” or “nasturtium cress.”
Nasturtium flowers are often used as a colorful garnish for salads, soups, and other dishes. They can also be stuffed or added to sandwiches for an attractive touch. The leaves can be used similarly to other leafy greens and incorporated into salads, or pestos. You will want to be sure and grow your edible flowers organically, without using an harmful pesticides. And that little blue flower? That is the flower of the herb, borage, also edible, which I grow alongside my tomatoes to deter the tomato hornworm.
Using nasturtiums to repel insects in the garden.
- Nasturtiums have a strong fragrance that repels many common garden pests, including aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. These insects are often deterred by the scent of nasturtiums and may be less likely to attack nearby vegetable plants.
- Trap crops: Nasturtiums can act as trap crops, luring pests away from your main vegetable plants. Some insects are highly attracted to nasturtiums and will preferentially feed on them instead of your vegetables. By planting nasturtiums as a border or intermingled with your vegetables, you can help divert pest attention away from your main crops. Pick off any pests you find. Aphids can easily be removed by spraying them off with water.
- Camouflage: The bright and vibrant flowers of nasturtiums can also serve as a visual distraction for pests, making it harder for them to locate and target your vegetable plants. The pests may be confused by the color and focus their attention on the nasturtiums instead.
- Natural insecticides: Nasturtiums contain compounds that have natural insecticidal properties. These compounds, such as mustard oil, can help deter or repel pests. When pests come in contact with the leaves or flowers of nasturtiums, they may be discouraged from feeding or laying eggs.
- Attracting beneficial insects: While nasturtiums repel some pests, they also attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and predatory wasps, which are natural predators of many garden pests.
If you have never grown nasturtiums, I encourage you to give them a try this year.