If there is a secret flower growing in the gardening world, it is Nasturtium plants. These easy-to-grow members of the Cress family offer a lot of benefits to you the gardener, and other plants in your garden. As a companion plant, it deters insect pests that may affect other crops. If you are growing Nasturtium annuals, will you do so in the flower garden or the vegetable garden? Chances are, you will plant it in the flower garden. But, you can eat the leaves, flowers, and seeds.
Here are some of the benefits you enjoy with these flowers, err vegetables, err…..
An easy and quick growing annual.
The edible leaves spice up salads
This companion plant helps to ward off insect pests.
The plants prefer to be ignored. It thrives in poor and dry soils.
Nasturtium flowers come in a variety of colors.
The flowers provide good color in the garden but are not great as cut flowers.
Flowers Blooms: Summer to Fall
Plant Height: Smaller varieties: 6″ – 12″; larger varieties: up to 15″
Other Names: Nasturtiums are also called Canary Bird Flower
There are two types of Nasturtium, a regular plant that grows 6 to 10 inches and a vining type that grows to about 15 inches.
The most common varieties include:
Nasturtiums are fast-growing. They can be directly seeded into your garden. Sow seeds after the last frost date for your area. Depending upon soil temperature when planted, they will usually come up in 7 to 14 days, sometimes less.
Sow Nasturtium seeds 1/2 inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart.
Nasturtium plants grow very well in poor soils and like dry soils. So you can plant these versatile flowers in areas where other flowers and vegetables would fare poorly.
Days to Germination: 10 – 14 days.
Nasturtiums are a flower and a vegetable that begs to be ignored. Grow them in poor soils and if anything, keep the soil dry. Don’t bother with mulch, compost, and fertilizers. They do like full sun but will tolerate partial shade. They make great plants for those areas in your garden that other plants refuse to grow in.
Just remember, keep the soil con the dry side, and they will grow well.
Annual Nasturtium plants are susceptible to frosts and freezes. Protect young plants against unexpected late frosts. And, be ready to cover up the plants in the Fall. If they are still blooming as fall arrives, cover them on cold nights. If you plant them in a flower garden along your house, they just might be the last vegetable you harvest in the fall.
Saving seeds for next year’s crop? It’s easy. Just harvest the brown and dry seed pods before they crack open and spill their seeds. Yes, Nasturtium plants are good re-seeders.
Ideal Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.5.
Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures.
Surprise, surprise…. There’s a flower in your flowerbed that is edible. The tender young leaves, flowers, and seeds are edible. Nasturtium leaves have a peppery taste. Use them in salads, soup, and stew recipes.
The edible leaves can be harvested as soon as several leaves are on the plant. Like any leaf type of plant, they taste better when young and older leaves can be bitter. The flowers are also edible but have less taste. Try using the seeds in pickling for a somewhat different taste.
Try a Nasturtium recipe……..
Nasturtium is an excellent companion plant. Their peppery leaves ward off insects. Among those common pests that nasturtium is believed to deter are cucumber beetles and squash vine borers.