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Growing Nasturtium: Companion Plants, Tips & Tricks

Nasturtiums are cheerful, versatile, and rewarding plants to add to any garden landscape. Growing nasturtium is easy and is available in a host of varieties, from climbing to compact, variegated to solid leafed, and even come in a myriad of vibrant colors. Nasturtiums grow exceptionally well in containers, spread amply as a groundcover, and add height and dimension on vertical structures. These peppy, eye-catching plants also look fantastic when allowed to cascade from window boxes or over walls.

There is no question that growing nasturtiums adds appeal, as they boast prominent bright splashes of color and diversity to gardens from spring through the fall. But perhaps, the most intriguing attributes of nasturtiums are its edible properties. Learn all about growing nasturtium, its companion plants, tips, and tricks to ensure that you’ll add them to your garden year after year.

Nasturtiums growing in raised beds

Nasturtium Companion Plants

Aside from being tasty, vitamin-rich, and beautiful, nasturtiums also provide many benefits to other plants in the garden as companion plants. Companion planting means placing different plants near one another in a garden bed for mutually beneficial reasons. This practice can enhance your garden design’s attractiveness, fight common pests, attract beneficial insects, attract pollinators, and amplify the overall flavor of many vegetables. Figuring out what works well together and learning about how individual plants can bolster each other can significantly improve productivity in your garden.

Nasturtiums are plants that are often used as trap crops for attracting aphids or squash bugs. Nasturtium companion plants can draw such pests away from vegetable plants like tomato and squash. They also attract good bugs such as pollinators and hoverflies, a predator of common pests like aphids.

Plant Nasturtium with these plants to keep crops healthy, fertile, and pest-free:

Growing Nasturtium: Tips & Tricks

Sow nasturtium seeds directly into the ground, planting seeds ½ inch deep and 12 inches apart. You can also get a jump start on growing nasturtium plants by starting seeds indoors 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost and plant seedlings directly in the ground after hardening and after all danger of frost as passed. Seedlings should emerge within 7 to 10 days after planting.

Nasturtium Soil and pH

Nasturtium plants are not picky about their soil. They grow exceptionally well in average to poor, well-draining soil with an optimal pH of 6.5. In fact, over-fertile soil can lead nasturtium plants to over-produce leaves and provide minimal blooms.

Do Nasturtiums Need Full Sun?

A common question when growing nasturtium is do they need full sun? It is best to start growing nasturtium in an area with full sun that receives a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Nasturtiums can tolerate partial shade conditions, but they will not necessarily bloom to their full potential when deprived of adequate sunlight.

The Best Way to Water Nasturtiums

You may be wondering, how much water do nasturtiums need? The best way to water nasturtium plants is at least once a week or when the soil gets dry to the touch. These vibrant bloomers are remarkably drought-tolerant, but for a more robust plant with plentiful blooms and lush foliage, it is best to keep them hydrated and to pinch off any spent leaves and flowers to keep them looking in prime shape.

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Nasturtiums growing along pathway with other plants and flowers.

Common Nasturtium Pests and Diseases

Unfortunately, when growing nasturtiums, you may commonly have to battle pests like aphids. As we eluded to before, nasturtiums are frequently used as a sacrificial crop in some vegetable gardens to draw the aphids away from producing plants. If you see aphids on your nasturtium leaves, you can combat them with a powerful spray of water from the hose, and it is usually enough to knock them out.

Is Nasturtium an Annual or Perrenial?

If you are lucky enough to live in planting zones 9, 10, or 11, many nasturtium varieties can be treated as perennial plants, returning again and again with happy colors. In most areas, though, nasturtiums are a single-season planting that has a bit of longevity. When planted soon after the last frost and cared for properly, one can enjoy flowing plants that keep on giving, right up until the first frost of winter.

Are Nasturtiums Edible Plants?

Nasturtium is an edible plant. It is known to be very rich in vitamin C and is long believed to have antibiotic and healing properties. Its plant is edible in its entirety, making a cheerful addition to any salad, soup, or on summer plates and desserts. These bright blooms are flowers you can eat that will add distinctive color and a subtle peppery essence for the perfect touch that will please any palate. Seeds of the plant can even be harvested and used much like a caper would be used in the culinary world.

close up of an orange Nasturtium

How to Collect Nasturtium Seeds

Besides its boastful blooms and natural benefits, nasturtiums offer another reward to gardeners in the form of seed production. Nasturtium plants produce a sizeable seed that can be easily harvested about 15 days after blooms start to wither, making them ideal for seed saving. Collecting and storing nasturtium seeds for next spring is an excellent practice that makes it easy to incorporate this plant in your landscape every year.

To collect nasturtium seeds, place your hand underneath the withered flower and tap the stem, and the round seed will drop right out. Be sure to start the seed collection process before any frost sets in, as a freeze will impact the seed’s fertility, and it may not be viable if subjected to extreme cold. Place your seeds in a paper bag to dry them out and store them in a dark and dry place for up to 2-3 years.

Recommended Nasturtium Varieties

  • ‘Jewel Mix’
  • ‘Orchid Flame’
  • ‘Double Gleam Mixed Colors’
  • ‘Phoenix’
  • ‘Tall Trailing Mix’
  • ‘Scarlet Gleam’

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Close up of an orange Nasturtium with text, "How to grow Nasturtium"
Close up picture of a Nasturtium with text, "Growing edible flowers, Nasturtiums"

10 Comments

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  1. I love the information on nasturtiums. I Just went an removed the seed. Can you show me a leaf of the thanksgiving cactus? I have got a cactus but don’t know which one it is.

    • Hi Lois, we’re so pleased to hear you enjoyed our blog post. We recommend searching ‘Thanksgiving cactus leaf’ and comparing the images with the plant you have at home. We also recommend joining the Facebook group Organic Garden Nation, https://www.facebook.com/groups/organicgardennation. It’s a great community where beginning to advanced gardeners share tips, ask questions, and help one another with their gardens. They may have some ideas as to what type of cactus you have. We hope this helps, happy gardening!

  2. I love Nasturtiums and want to plant them everywhere. This was my first year with them, they were beautiful but I want to do much better. I fin$ the seed extremely difficult to harvest. I was told they are the three little pods on the stem which I see very few of, and you should let them ‘ripen’ by turning dark at which time they easily fall off. When I go back to get them they are gone! So are you saying seen is in the bloom? Please, a picture or something, please shoe me how to harvest them.

    • Hi Peggy, when harvesting nasturtium seeds place your hand underneath the withered flower and tap the stem, and the round seed will drop right out. The seeds are rather large and should be easy to spot. You do not need to wait for them to turn dark as they can be harvested when they are green or brown. If the seeds come off the vine easily then they are ready to be harvested. Nasturtium is a self-sowing flower and drops its seeds on the ground each season. So make sure to check the ground underneath and around your nasturtium plant for green and brown seeds. We recommend googling ‘video how to harvest nasturtium seeds’. This will show you lots of great YouTube videos that walk you through the step-by-step seed-saving process. If you have any additional questions please let us know, we’re happy to help. Happy gardening!

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