Nasturtium

This versatile annual will look its best in cooler spring and fall temperatures.

Colorful Combinations

Nasturtiums are easy to grow and work well in both garden beds and containers. Vividly colored blossoms pop against the gray-green foliage for an impressive effect when planted in large groups. Some varieties even have variegated leaves marked with white or cream. The flowers come in a spectrum of colors from creamy white to bold red. Adding the blossoms to salads or other dishes adds color and a light, peppery flavor. The large seeds can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers.

Nasturtium Care

Although there are several species of nasturtium with varying requirements, the most commonly grown annual species do best when directly seeded in well-drained soil, and they prefer regular watering. During droughts, they're prone to wilt, but once watered they bounce right back. If you plant nasturtiums in soil too rich in organic matter, the plants become floppy and produce fewer flowers because the excess nutrients are going toward growing new leaves.

Much like beans in a vegetable bed, nasturtiums fall into a bush or vine category and need to be planted accordingly. Whether you opt for a bush or vine type, they grow best in full sun. If planted in part sun, the plants may become floppy, open in the center, and produce fewer blossoms. They bloom best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall.

Innovations

Nasturtiums are a beloved old-fashioned plant associated with cottage gardens, but there have been several newer developments. Much of nasturtium breeding has centered on creating more garden-friendly plants, typically bush-type annuals. There are also many varieties with variegated foliage. Some of the most exciting developments revolve around color, introducing new hues and developing ones that change, for example, opening as light peach and fading into deep red.

More Varieties of Nasturtium

01 of 10

Nasturtium Overview

Description Nasturtium has slightly succulent stems and distinctive, rounded green leaves that resemble water lily pads. The flowers have a funnel shape with a short spur off the back, and come in a range of warm colors from creamy yellow to bright red. Some varieties are mounding, some trailing, and some are climbers.
Genus Name Tropaeolum
Common Name Nasturtium
Plant Type Annual, Vine
Light Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 12 to 18 inches
Flower Color Orange, Pink, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant
02 of 10

'Alaska' Nasturtium

alaska nasturtium
Peter Krumhardt

Tropaeolum majus 'Alaska' is a trailing variety reaching 12 -15 inches. It offers exciting, white-splashed foliage and striking red, orange, gold, yellow, and salmon flowers.

03 of 10

Canary Creeper

Canary Creeper
Bill Stites

This selection of Tropaeolum peregrinum in late spring offers abundant fringed canary-yellow blooms that appear almost like butterflies. It climbs to 15 feet and is perennial in Zones 9-10.

04 of 10

'Empress of India' Nasturtium

'Empress of India' Nasturtium
Marty Baldwin

Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India' bears velvety, crimson-red flowers on a compact, 14-inch-tall plant.

05 of 10

'Jewel of Africa' Nasturtium

'Jewel of Africa' Nasturtium
Christopher Hirsheimer

This variety of Tropaeolum majus is a climbing annual to 5 feet tall that has variegated foliage and blooms in red, gold, yellow, cream, or peach.

06 of 10

'Peach Melba' Nasturtium

'Peach Melba' Nasturtium
Peter Krumhardt

Tropaeolum majus 'Peach Melba' offers salmon-peach flowers all summer long on compact, 1-foot-tall plants.

07 of 10

'Strawberry Ice' Nasturtium

'Strawberry Ice' Nasturtium
Stephen Cridland

This Tropaeolum majus selection bears deep yellow flowers with a strawberry-red blotch at the base of each petal. It trails or climbs to 16 inches.

Nasturtium Companion Plants

08 of 10

Petunia

purple petunia
Peter Krumhardt

Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere. They're vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from midspring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, some with beautiful veining and intriguing colors. Many varieties are sweetly fragrant (to be sure, check for aroma in the garden center.) Some are also touted as "weatherproof," which means that the flowers don't close up when splashed by water. Wave petunias have made this plant even more popular. Reaching up to 4 feet long, they're great as a groundcover or cascading from window boxes and pots. All petunias do best and grow more bushy and full if you pinch or cut them back by one- to two-thirds in midsummer.

09 of 10

Cosmos

pink cosmos
Jon Jensen

You can depend on this cottage-garden favorite to provide color all season long. The simple, daisy-like flowers appear in cheery shades on tall stems that are great for cutting. The lacy foliage makes a good backdrop for shorter plants. Cosmos often self-seeds in the garden, so you may only have to plant it once, though the colors can appear muddy or odd in the self-seeders. Plant cosmos from seed directly in the ground in spring, or start from established seedlings. This flower doesn't like fertilizing or conditions that are too rich, which result in large and lush foliage but fewer blooms. It does best with average moisture, but will tolerate drought.

10 of 10

French Marigold

french marigold
Doug Hetherington 

Just as you'd expect from something called French, these marigolds are the fancy ones. French marigolds tend to be frilly and some have a distinctive "crested eye." They grow roughly 8-12 inches high with a chic, neat, little growth habit and elegant dark green foliage. They do best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil and will flower all summer long. They may reseed, coming back year after year in spots where they're happy.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles