Nasturtiums are a colorful addition to any garden space. Many varieties trail or climb. The plant's Latin name, Tropaeolum, comes from the shield or circular shape of the plant's large leaves.
Nasturtiums are notable because the entire plant is edible as well as beautiful. They are useful in ornamental gardens, hanging containers, edible or herb gardens.
Nasturtiums have a spicy, peppery flavor that surprises many when they first eat the plant. The original variety was first known as Nasturtium on account of its watercress-like taste. Both leaves and flowers may be used to add spice in salads, or as edible decorations on cakes. The yellow and orange flowers add an elegant garnish to any dish in cooking.
Nasturtiums are easy to grow and prefer sunny or partly shaded locations. They prefer well-drained soil. Rich soil promotes leaf growth, while poorer soils produce more abundant flowers. In many regions with frost or snow, Zones 7 and below, nasturtiums can be grown as annuals. In Zones 8 and above, they may be grown outdoors as perennials, dying off in winter and producing new growth the following year.
Nasturtiums may be prone to some viral diseases. Additionally, they may become invasive if allowed to take over a garden bed, due to their trailing habit.
Nasturtiums may be good as companion plants in deterring pests. They are often used to deterring cucumber beetles, white fly and sometimes woolly aphids if grown at the base of apple trees.
Nasturtiums can easily be grown by seed propagated in late spring or early summer. Outdoors, many will self-seed freely and take over large areas of soil.
- Nasturtiums in Cooking
- Encyclopedia of Herbs
nasturtium, edible, ornamental
About this Author
Amy Hengst is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area, with expertise in technology, education, and gardening. She's written about computer networking, IT Security, and also maintains a regular blog about computer ergonomics and alternative health. When not writing, she's out taking photographs or zooming by on her bicycle.