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Flowering nasturtium in the garden. Bright orange nasturtiums rising along the wooden fence
The nasturtium is a classic cottage garden plant that is known to ramble through other plants and over garden structures. Incredibly easy to grow and care for, your nasturtium will also flower for months at a time, providing vibrant colour in your garden.

What you need to know about a nasturtium

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.

Appearance and characteristics of a nasturtium

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.

 Close up of an orange nasturtium flower

Uses for a nasturtium

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.

How to plant and grow a nasturtium

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.

  1. Plant seeds or seedlings directly where you want them to grow
  2. Water well until seed is up or the seedlings have settled in.
  3. Reduce watering to about once a week.

Caring for your nasturtium

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.

Diseases and pests affecting nasturtiums

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.

How to propagate nasturtiums

  1. Leave your nasturtiums in until they start to look ratty. By this stage they should have set seeds.
  2. Collect the seeds for later use. They are about the size and shape of a pea, but with ridges on them.
  3. Sow the seeds directly in the garden from spring to early autumn, or spring only in colder areas.

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.

Safety tip

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.

If you like this then try

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.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!


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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.