Your garden and hanging baskets should get to know this quick and colorful annual that reseeds itself freely. Home gardeners are growing nasturtium (Tropaeolum) from seeds and cuttings for its vivid, showy flowers and attractive trailing vines. Great for cool-weather climates, its striking blossoms can also brighten up salads and pastas… they’re edible!
Fragrant plants with bright green foliage and orange, red and yellow flowers are perfect for ground covers, window boxes, walls or trellised containers. Nasturtiums are a good flower for children to work with because they grow so rapidly and their large seeds are easily handled by little fingers.
This hardy, carefree annual develops quickly and requires some room to roam — up to 10 feet, depending on variety.
Quick and easy-to-grow, nasturtiums’ vines spread rich colors where you need them.View all
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Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Nasturtiums
- Blooms in sun-loving hot colors like yellow, orange and deep red
- Easily grown from seed when planted after last frost
- Needs full sun to part shade; develops rapidly
- Almost thrives on neglect — no fertilizer needed; water regularly
- Blooms all season long
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 55-70 days from seed to flower
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart in all directions
Nasturtiums prefer full sun and moist soil, but will tolerate some shade. In hot climates, plant in partial shade and work a shovelful or two of organic matter, such as compost or well-aged animal manure, into the ground. This helps condition the soil, which improves drainage and will keep roots cool (watch our video 6 Tips for Growing Great Flowers).
How to Plant
Sow outdoors one week after last frost, 1/4 inch beneath the surface of the soil. Nasturtium seeds germinate in 7-12 days and develop quickly. Plants do NOT require fertilizer during the gardening season. In fact, they seem to thrive on lean soil and neglect. Provide support for some of the taller climbing varieties and pinch off the spent blooms to extend the flowering season.
Insect & Disease Problems
Aphids, slugs, whiteflies and flea beetles are a few of the common garden pests found on nasturtiums. Watch closely and apply insecticidal soap mixed with pyrethrin or diatomaceous earth when necessary.
- Avoid overhead watering whenever possible (use soaker hoses or drip irrigation)
- Properly space plants to improve air circulation
- Apply copper spray or sulfur dust to prevent further infection
Seed Saving Instructions
Nasturtiums will cross-pollinate. Gardeners should only grow one variety at a time to save pure seed or isolate varieties by 1/2 mile. Seeds are formed in pods beneath the blossoms containing around 2-3 large seeds.
Pods do have a tendency to burst, so placing an old sheet or newspaper around the plants may be necessary. Picking the seedpods slightly premature is also an option. Read our article Saving Heirloom Flower Seeds to learn more.
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