Nasturtium, an alluring plant with a dual purpose of pleasing the eye and satisfying the palate, has increasingly become a beloved member of many gardens. With its vivid blooms and peppery leaves, it adds both aesthetic and culinary dimensions to your green space. This guide aims to elucidate the secrets of growing and caring for your Nasturtium.
Nasturtium, hailing from the Tropaeolum genus, is home to approximately 80 species. Renowned for their vivacious colors and edible properties, these herbaceous annual and perennial plants have their roots in South and Central America, though they have found their way into gardens worldwide.
Nasturtiums are notable for their circular, shield-like leaves and vibrant flowers. Their blossoms, often in shades of yellow, orange, and red, are composed of five petals, a three-carpel ovary, and a funnel-shaped nectar spur.
Vining or bushy growth habits are common among different species, lending to their versatility in garden design.
How to Grow Nasturtium
Growing Nasturtium from seeds is a straightforward process. Begin by sowing seeds directly in your garden or pots after the risk of frost has passed. Plant them 1/2 inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart, allowing ample space for their vigorous growth. Like the Cardinal Climber, Nasturtiums appreciate sun and well-draining soil.
Nasturtium Propagation Tips
Although Nasturtium is usually grown from seeds, it can also be propagated from cuttings. Simply take a healthy stem cutting, place it in water until roots develop, and then plant it in suitable soil. This method can expedite the process of having a fully grown, blooming Nasturtium.
Care for Nasturtium
Nasturtium Quick Care Overview
Nasturtiums are low-maintenance plants. They prefer full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil, and moderate watering. They rarely require fertilization, and regular pruning helps maintain their shape and encourage more blooms.
Nasturtium Light Requirements
Nasturtium plants flourish under full sun but can tolerate partial shade. However, too much shade can inhibit flowering and lead to lankier growth, so ensure your plant receives at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
Nasturtium Soil Requirements
Nasturtium isn’t picky about soil. It thrives in well-draining soil and can tolerate a variety of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. The soil pH should ideally be slightly acidic to neutral.
Nasturtium Potting and Repotting
When potting Nasturtium, ensure your chosen container has adequate drainage holes. As for repotting, it’s typically unnecessary unless you’re moving a plant from a smaller pot to a larger one to accommodate growth.
Nasturtium Pruning and Shaping
Pruning Nasturtium encourages bushier growth and more blooms. Regularly pinch back the tips of the vines and remove dead or faded flowers to keep the plant tidy and vibrant.
Nasturtium Temperature Requirements
Nasturtium thrives in moderate temperatures, ideally between 50°F and 80°F (10°C to 27°C). While it can tolerate slight dips in temperature, frost can be detrimental. In colder climates, consider growing Nasturtium as an annual or in containers that can be moved indoors.
Nasturtium is not particularly sensitive to humidity levels and can adapt to a range of environments. However, in extremely high humidity, ensure good airflow to prevent fungal diseases.
Nasturtium prefers soil that is slightly dry rather than waterlogged. Water thoroughly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common issue in many plants, including the Agapanthus.
Interestingly, Nasturtiums flourish in less fertile soil. Over-fertilizing can lead to lush foliage at the expense of flowers. However, a light application of a low-nitrogen fertilizer can be beneficial if your soil is particularly poor.
Pest Control Tips for Nasturtium
Nasturtium can occasionally attract aphids. Regular inspection and rinsing the plant with water can keep this pest at bay. Moreover, Nasturtium is a fantastic companion plant, drawing pests away from more susceptible plants like Angel Wing Begonias.
Nasturtium Common Problems
One of the most common issues with Nasturtiums is powdery mildew, particularly in humid conditions with poor air circulation. Ensuring good airflow and avoiding overhead watering can prevent this. Yellowing leaves, on the other hand, may suggest overwatering or poor drainage.
With their dual aesthetic and culinary appeal, Nasturtiums are a delightful addition to any garden. Their low-maintenance nature and versatile use make them a boon to both novice and seasoned gardeners.
As you embark on your Nasturtium journey, remember that a little care goes a long way in ensuring the prosperity of these beautiful, edible blooms.
Can Nasturtium grow in shade?
While Nasturtium can tolerate partial shade, it prefers full sun for optimal blooming.
What part of Nasturtium is edible?
All parts of the Nasturtium plant – leaves, flowers, and seeds – are edible. They have a slightly peppery taste, akin to watercress.
How often should I water my Nasturtium?
Watering should be done when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.
How can I use Nasturtium in my kitchen?
Nasturtium can be used in a variety of dishes. Its leaves and flowers can be added to salads for a peppery kick, while its seeds can be pickled and used as a caper substitute.