Nasturtium plants were discovered in the jungles of Peru and Mexico in the 16th century. They are easy to grow, edible, cheerful and they are great companion plants as well. Nasturtiums help deter aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and other pests. Plant them with tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, and under fruit trees. They come in vibrant colors, or muted tones-variegated leaves or plain-and some are fairly dwarfed while others can be used as a vine, climbing five foot or more.
Although the blossoms appear delicate, they are actually very durable and make for vibrant and long-lasting garnishes, one of their best uses. Use the blossoms either whole or chopped to decorate creamy soups, salads, butters, cakes and platters. Their sweet, peppery taste (both in the leaves and in the flowers) adds to the enjoyment. In fact, it is for its tangy taste that nasturtium gets its common name. It comes from the Latin "Nasus Tortus" meaning convulsed nose, referring to the faces people made when tasting the spicy plant.
~Here's what you need to get growing:
Nasturtium seeds - there are many varieties including climbing, variegated leaves and dwarf. Colors range from a vanilla white to fiery red and even multi-colored. We have listed resources for the seeds below.
Soil - Nasturtiums grow best in semi-neglected areas. If you feed them too much they will grow huge and green but you won't get many flowers. Just make sure it's well drained as they don't like their feet to wet.
A garden area or large pot to grow them in. Dwarf varieties make great edging plants and the climbing varieties are lovely on a back fence in the garden or in pots with trellises. The cascading varieties are wonderful for hanging baskets.
To get a faster sprout soak your seeds (they are large and pretty hard) in some warm water overnight and then place directly in the garden or pots where you want to grow them. Nasturtiums are annuals so plant the seeds in spring when the danger of frost has passed.
Once they are established, nasturtiums will continue to spread and bloom until the first frost, with very little work or water from you. They will grow in partial shade but you will get mostly foliage as they don't flower as well in those conditions as they do in their preferred full sun location.