Create Your Garden

Nasturtium: Plant Care and Growing Guide

Tropaeolum, Common Nasturtium, Indian Cress, Mexican Cress, Peruvian Cress, Garden Nasturtium

Tropaeolum, Common Nasturtium, Indian Cress, Mexican Cress, Peruvian Cress, Garden Nasturtium

Among the easiest and most versatile flowers to grow in the garden, Nasturtium is a showy annual or perennial plant with flamboyant flowers and attractive parasol-like leaves. Nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and make an attractive addition to salads. They attract beneficial insects to the garden, making Nasturtium a wonderful companion plant for fruits and vegetables.

All you need to know about Nasturtium

  • Nasturtium belongs to the Tropaeolaceae family, which includes about 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants native to South and Central America.
  • Tropaeolum majus (Common Nasturtium, Indian Cress) and Tropaeolum minus (Dwarf Nasturtium) are the most commonly cultivated species.
  • They are perennial in hardiness zones 9-11 and grown as annual plants elsewhere.
  • Depending on the variety, Nasturtiums can form a low bushy mound or trail and climb by twining stems. The bush types, from 12 in. tall (30 cm) and 2 ft. wide (60 cm), are great selections for beds and borders, rock gardens, edgings, ground covers, or in mass plantings. The climbing types, up to 6-10 ft. tall (180-300 cm), can quickly cover fences, banks, or stumps.
  • Nasturtium blooms from winter through spring in mild winter areas and from summer to fall in colder climates.
  • The flowers are long-stalked, funnel-shaped, about 2-3 in. wide (5-7 cm), ranging in color from creamy white to orange, mahogany, red, and yellow. The blossoms may be single or double and have an unusual and refreshing fragrance. They stand out against the pretty foliage of rounded, parasol-like leaves.
  • Nasturtiums rank among the most common edible flowers. The delicate blossoms have a sweet, peppery taste similar to watercress. Leaves and unripe seed pods add a citrusy and peppery flavor to salads. Flower buds contain mustard oil and may be used for seasonings. The flowers add eye-catching beauty to the plate and can be used to garnish salads, platters, and savory dishes.
  • Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators are drawn to the flowers, making Nasturtium a valuable addition to the vegetable garden. Nasturtium is a good companion plant for beans, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, kale, melon, pumpkin, and radish.
  • In addition, Nasturtium can be used as a trap crop, trapping pests such as aphids and giving a more appealing and delicious meal than nearby vegetable crops.
  • Nasturtiums are unfussy plants. They perform best in full sun in poor, well-drained soils. Some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer areas. They thrive on neglect, and few pests or diseases bother them. They are no favorite to deer.
  • Nasturtium self-seeds readily, keeping a presence in the garden. In warm climates, it blooms and seeds all year round and is considered invasive in many of those areas.
  • Nasturtium is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Guide Information

Hardiness 2 - 11
Plant Type Annuals
Genus Tropaeolum
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Hanging Baskets, Ground Covers, Edging, Beds And Borders, Walls And Fences
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Tropaeolum majus ‘Black Velvet’ (Nasturtium)
Tropaeolum majus ‘Orange Troika’ (Nasturtium)
Tropaeolum majus ‘Salmon Baby’ (Nasturtium)

When to Plant Nasturtium Flowers?

  • Seeds can be sown directly in the garden after your last spring frost date. Soil temperatures should ideally be between 55-65°F (12°-18°C).
  • Start seeds indoors about 2-4 weeks before the last frost for earlier blooms.
  • Plants germinate quickly, sprouting within 10-14 days and blooming in about 6 weeks.

Where to Plant Nasturtium Flowers?

  • Nasturtium thrives in full sun (at least 6 hours of sunlight daily) in poor, well-drained soils. Some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer areas.
  • Rich, fertile soils are not recommended as they yield more foliage but reduce flowering. Nasturtiums do better in soils of moderate to low fertility.
  • They relishes cooler temperatures (in the 70sºF or 20sºC) and often sulks in extremely dry or humid conditions.
  • Nasturtium is an excellent choice for beds and borders, edgings, as a ground cover, or in mass plantings. It is also suitable for kitchen gardens and containers and looks great in the cottage garden.
  • Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators and beneficial insects are drawn to the flowers, making them valuable to the vegetable garden.
  • In addition, Nasturtium can be used as a trap crop, trapping pests such as aphids and giving a more appealing and delicious meal than nearby vegetable crops.
  • Nasturtium is a good companion plant for beans, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, kale, melon, pumpkin, and radish.

How to Plant Nasturtium Flowers?

  • When sowing directly into the garden, clear the area of weeds, then rake the surface to a fine, crumbly texture.
  • Sow seeds about 1/2 inch deep (1 cm) and 10-12 inches apart (25-30 cm) in the garden.
  • Water thoroughly after planting.
  • Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout, which should take about 10-14 days.
Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium)
Tropaeolum minus ‘Ladybird Cream Purple Spot’ (Nasturtium)
Tropaeolum minus ‘Ladybird Rose’ (Nasturtium)

Caring for Nasturtium Flowers

Water and Moisture

  • Water regularly throughout the growing season.
  • Nasturtium is somewhat drought tolerant but will perform better in moist soil. If water-stressed, fewer flowers and leaves will be produced.

Fertilizer

  • Nasturtium does not need any fertilizer.

Deadheading / Pruning

  • Deadheading will promote more blooms.
  • If the flowers are not deadheaded, the plants may self-sow.
  • Nasturtium may need to be trimmed back occasionally over the growing season. This stimulates new growth and flower production.

Harvesting

  • Only Nasturtium grown organically can be eaten. Never eat Nasturtium plant parts grown with pesticides or chemicals.
  • Pick the edible leaves with or without their stalk when they are young and small.
  • Clip flower buds with scissors right below the point where they join the stem.
  • Clip the edible flowers with scissors when they are at their peak freshness – before they are fully open or starting to wilt. Harvest them the day they will be used.
  • Snip the seed pods from the stems using scissors while they are still green. They can be used as a substitute for capers. Pickle them in vinegar.
  • Leaves or stems can be stored for a few days in the fridge.
  • When serving edible flowers fresh, add them to your dish just before serving.
  • Collect Nasturtium seeds when they are ripe, dry them, and store them in a paper envelope in a cool and dark place. In mild areas, the plant is also likely to self-sow and volunteer year after year.

Propagating

  • Nasturtium is propagated easily from seed or cuttings.

Pest and Diseases

  • Nasturtium has no serious pest or disease issues. However, some problems may occasionally occur:
  • Aphids: Leaves, stems, and buds distorted.
  • Leaf miners: Leaves with tan or brown blotches or serpentine tunnels.
  • Bacterial wilt: Plant yellows, wilts, and dies.
  • Flea beetles: Leaves with many tiny holes.

Companion Plants for Nasturtium Flowers

Helianthus annuus (Common Sunflower)
Eruca vesicaria (Arugula)
Phaseolus lunatus – Lima Beans
Phaseolus vulgaris – Green Beans
Vicia faba – Fava Beans
Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group (Brussels Sprouts)
Brassica rapa Chinensis Group (Bok Choy)
Brassica oleracea Italica Group (Broccoli)
Brassica oleracea Capitata Group (Cabbage)
Brassica oleracea Botrytis Group (Cauliflower)
Cucumis melo (Cantaloupe)
Apium graveolens var. dulce (Celery)
Daucus carota subsp. sativus (Carrot)
Cucumis sativus (Cucumber)
Brassica oleracea Acephala Group (Kale)
Lactuca sativa (Lettuce)
Punica granatum (Pomegranate)
Cucurbita pepo – Pumpkin
Citrullus lanatus (Watermelon)
Cucurbita pepo – Zucchini
Aster novi-belgii (New York Aster)
Cosmos Flowers
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
Tagetes (Marigold)
Compare All Tropaeolum (Nasturtium)
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Tropaeolum (Nasturtium)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 2 - 11
Plant Type Annuals
Genus Tropaeolum
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Hanging Baskets, Ground Covers, Edging, Beds And Borders, Walls And Fences
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Tropaeolum (Nasturtium)
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Tropaeolum (Nasturtium)

Related Items

Please Login to Proceed

You Have Reached The Free Limit, Please Subscribe to Proceed

Subscribe to Gardenia

To create additional collections, you must be a paid member of Gardenia
  • Add as many plants as you wish
  • Create and save up to 25 garden collections
Become a Member

Plant Added Successfully

You have Reached Your Limit

To add more plants, you must be a paid member of our site Become a Member

Update Your Credit
Card Information

Cancel

Create a New Collection

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

    You have been subscribed successfully

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Join Gardenia.net

    Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

    Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

    Join now and start creating your dream garden!

    Find your Hardiness Zone

    Find your Heat Zone

    Find your Climate Zone