Nasturtium is the common name for a group of herbs native to South America. The plants have yellow, orange, and sometimes red flowers, and circular, shield-shaped leaves. They tend to grow in vines that climb or trail. Nasturtiums are easy to grow and quick to cover fences or empty soil.
Sow seeds in late spring or early summer, in well-drained soil and a sunny location. Soil should be average to poor nutrient levels, since rich soil will encourage leaves to grow, and will slow the production of flowers.
Keep the plants moist. Water the plants weekly, or whenever they are dry.
Expect the plants to grow quickly the first few weeks. Large varieties may trail over garden beds or climb fences, while compact varieties may stay within the borders of containers and plant beds.
Harvest leaves and flowers during summer for use in salads, tinctures, or infusions. Eaten fresh, the leaves and flowers add a spicy, peppery flavor to salads. They can also be used for spice in cream cheese, dips, or egg dishes. Brightly colored flowers may be used to decorate cakes or pastries.
Use the plants for herbal remedies, too. Traditionally, garden nasturtiums have been used internally to treat respiratory infections, since it is known as an expectorant and antibiotic. It has been used to treat scurvy and minor injuries. Nasturtiums also contain large amounts of sulfur, which is thought to slow down baldness.