Why you should start growing Nasturtium
Written by Laveréna Wienclaw
Health: These multifunctional flowers make lovely blooms in the garden and mildly peppery additions to many recipes. With the bright colors and leaves full of vitamin C, this flower is becoming more popular in edible gardens all over.
Once they begin to grow, harvesting them to eat gives many health benefits to those who partake in the peppery leaves and flowers. Their seeds can also be harvested and pickled to make Poor Man's Capers. Or you can easily save the green seed heads that appear to grow more nasturtium!
Ease: If you do not have a lot of experience growing from seed, this flower is a great place to start. The seeds are large enough to handle with ease, and they grow very quickly after germinating so you don't have to sit around and worry something went wrong when trying to germinate the seeds. This is a great flower to start with children!
Nasturtiums are easy to handle from seed, do best in poor soil, and thrive in partial light or full sun. They flower best with poor soil, whereas they produce more foliage with more rich soil. You can plan your soil amendments accordingly to get what you want out of this plant.
Beauty: Just look at them! They are beautiful! From the lily-pad foliage that can come in splashes of cream and green with bright and cheery flowers in Alaska Mix Nasturitum, or deep mossy greens and the sultry red jewel toned blooms of the Empress of India Nasturtium, these flowers are impressive. It's not everyday that you can find a plant healthy enough to be on a dinner plate, and pretty enough to be in the flower vase next to it!
Bonus - Aphid Avoidance: Nasturtium attracts aphids, and can act as a decoy plant to save your more precious aphid-sensitive veggies. To use them for this property, look under the nasturtium leaves occasionally to spot aphid colonies. You can then remove these leaves carefully and dispose of them by burying them, or burning them. Chickens also appreciate an aphid snack!
How to grow:
Germination: Many seed packets of nasturtium will recommend that you file down some of the hardened seed casing so that it has better chances of breaking the casing and germinating. Another method I've had a lot of success with is keeping them in a moist paper towel for a few days to soften their seed barrier before sowing them outdoors after all danger of frost is over. They take off quickly, so you should start seeing sprouts within a week or two depending on the variety you are growing.
Watering & Harvesting: Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season, but do not overwater. Flowers should appear 30-50 days after flower begins sprouting, depending on the richness of your soil. You can harvest foliage and flowers as you like, but try not to harvest more than 2/3 of the plant at a time so that growth can be continued.
If you want to collect seeds for the next time you plant nasturtium, wait for the seeds to dry up and turn brown. The seeds will fall off the vine when they are fully mature. Collect them, dry them, and store them in a dry package like a brown paper bag. Plastic bags can be used as long as there is no risk of moisture.
I often don't grow them specifically to eat other than to show off to friends that they are edible. I grow them for their exotic colors and lily-pad-like leaves that make my heart flutter with a gardener's joy. <3
Published on July 5th 2019. Last updated 21 days ago.