Name: Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus and varieties).
Height: only 20cm, but if trailing up something the plant can get quite tall.
Foliage: evergreen, although the plant will only last a year.
Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical and tropical.
Soil: not particularly fussy.
Position: full sun, but will tolerate light shade.
Flowering: summer and autumn.
Feeding: best not to feed, as this can result in lots of leaves and few flowers.
Watering: seeds and young plants require reliable watering as they establish. Older plants only need supplemental watering in very dry periods.
The nasturtium is a sprawling, rambling sort of a plant that will cover a lot of ground, or even cover a structure. The leaves are circular with radiating veins and are a sort of dull green. The leaves and stems are fleshy.
The nasturtium flowers come in the range of cream, yellow, orange and red, with the trumpet-shaped flowers sometimes featuring stripes and bi-colours. In most areas the flowers occur in summer, but autumn flowers can be produced by planting seed later in the season.
This plant is an annual, which means it grows, flowers and dies within about one year. Don’t worry though—it does tend to set a lot of viable seeds.
Nasturtium is great for adding colour to a garden. Its rambling nature means it is suited to people who like a less formal garden. It can be grown up trellises and fences, or in a frame within a garden bed. Or, if you prefer, just let it wander along the ground to add colour.
Smaller forms are available that are ideal for growing in containers. These look especially nice when trailing down in a hanging basket. Both the nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and are often seen in salads or as decorations on a plate. The leaves have a peppery taste and are great for adding a bit of zing to a meal, especially a salad.
Nasturtium can be grown very easily from seed sown straight into the garden. If you want a head start you can also buy seedlings in punnets.
This easy-to-grow plant does not have too many requirements. It is probably best in a poorer soil, as soils that have a lot of nitrogen from manure and fertiliser tend to produce plants with lots of leaves and few flowers.
Grow your nasturtium in a sunny spot in an area that won’t get frost.
Nasturtium flowers are sometimes attacked by caterpillars, especially those of the cabbage white butterfly. In fact, some people grow nasturtiums as a “decoy plant” to draw the caterpillars away from their cabbages and cauliflowers! If the caterpillar damage worries you then pull them off and squash them, or spray with a natural caterpillar killer.
Sometimes aphids and other sap suckers can attack nasturtiums, so spray with a garden insecticide to control these if their numbers build up to become a problem. Make sure you spray under the leaves, too.
Often nasturtiums will leave behind enough seeds to give you plants each year. In fact, it is a good idea to check the garden and remove all of the seedlings except the ones you want. This propensity to self-sow is the reason you should never grow nasturtiums if you live near a nature reserve—you don’t want them to pop up in the bush.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Herbs: a range of edible plants to give flavour to your dishes.
Lettuce: a key salad ingredient that can be used with nasturtiums.
Gazania: low-growing summer flowering perennials.
Petunia: a showy annual that will bring colour to your garden in the warmer months.
Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!
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