Garden Nasturtium: A Guide On How To Grow & Care For Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are lovely, low-growing or climbing brightly coloured plants. You may have seen them growing by the sidewalk or climbing on walls and were unaware of how extraordinary this little plant is! They’re easy to grow and have generous benefits for herb or vegetable gardens, being edible and medicinal in addition to drawing beneficial pollinating insects. What more can you ask for?

Read on how to grow nasturtium in your garden and enjoy its beauty and benefits.

What Are Nasturtium Plants?

Nasturtium (also called Tropaeolum majus, Indian cress, or Monk cress) is a flowering plant, either annual or perennial. This fast-growing plant can reach a height of 9 to 16 inches, and the climbing height can be as tall as 15 feet.

Wide varieties are available, including trailing, climbing, and dwarf varieties, and their flowers come in beautiful warm shades, such as yellow, red, orange, and white. The deep green, rounded leaves have light-coloured radiating veins. And the leaves and stems are fleshy.

Planting nasturtiums is an excellent trap crop in companion planting, diverting aphids and other garden pests away from your vegetables and roses. The herbaceous plant is in-demand, particularly as an accessory decoration for flower beds and borders and as a spiller in window boxes and hanging baskets.

Aside from dressing up your vegetable garden, nasturtium is an edible plant. Its edible flowers and leaves contain a high amount of vitamin C and a distinct spicy, peppery taste. The seeds are sometimes called “poor man’s capers” and can be used as capers in the culinary world.

Nasturtium Varieties

Nasturtium varieties are divided into dwarf types, trailing or climbing types (Tropaeolum majus), and bush types (T. minus). The following is a sample of the wide varieties available for the home garden.


The ‘Alaska’ is a dwarf variety with edible flowers in yellow, orange, mahogany, and cream colours with distinct variegated foliage.

Orange Gleam

Orange Gleams are climbing or trailing nasturtiums with rounded leaves and semi-double orange flowers that are delectably scented.

Canary creeper

It is a trailing type that grows between eight and 12 feet high, and blooms have varying colours of yellow, from bright yellow to light, creamy tones.

Peach Melba

Peach Melba dwarf nasturtium produces yellow flowers with bright red markings on the throat, has a mounding habit, and grows 8 to 12 inches tall.

Empress of India

With a charming colour combination of rich scarlet flowers and deep blue-green leaves, Empress of India is a beautiful dwarf cultivar that rise above cascading.
a bunch of flowers that are in the grass.

How To Plant Nasturtiums In Your Garden

To grow one, take care that you have chosen a suitable environment for the plant to flourish. Nasturtiums are not that picky, but some viable advice will help you reap the best blossoms.

When To Plant Nasturtium

The best time to plant nasturtium is in the spring after the danger of frost has perished. Nasturtium flowers occur from mid-spring to fall; planting them at the beginning of the season will allow them to become established. It is a fast-growing plant that begins flowering once it settles, although it may stop during drought and heat waves.

Growing Nasturtium Seeds

Nasturtiums are easy to grow from seed, and there’s not much to prepare before seeding. Most gardeners prefer to soak the seeds for eight hours to help them germinate.

For the planting site, nasturtium does best in poor soil and need sunlight for at least half the day. Trailing types can be trained along trellises, cascade on retaining walls, in hanging baskets/containers, or fill in a border. In contrast, plant dwarf varieties where space is limited or in pots.

Start The Seeds Indoors

If you intend to start your seeds indoors, prepare to do it four to six weeks before the last spring frost date.

Nasturtium seeds are coated with a hard layer. To help germinate, nick the outer coating and soak them for up to 12 hours in lukewarm water. After soaking, dry them on a paper towel. Sow one seed per biodegradable pot at a depth of half an inch. Use seed substrate and not potting soil.

Keep the pots near your sunniest window, and keep the peat moist. If you live in a place with cloudy winters, you must have a grow light. Seedlings must appear within 7 to 10 days after planting. Afterwards, you can transplant the seedlings outdoors without disturbing their roots when they grow nearly 5 to 6 inches taller.

Transplant them in your garden after hardening and after the last frost of the season. Nasturtium seedlings are sensitive to transplanting, so make sure you harden them off before transferring them outdoors.
a group of orange flowers with green leaves.

Sow Directly In Garden Beds

Nasturtiums struggle with transplant as root disturbance will stunt their growth, so direct planting is recommended versus starting indoors.

For outdoor planting, direct sow seeds beginning one week after the last frost. Soil temperatures must preferably be between 55°F and 65°F. Choose a location that’s shaded from the midday summer heat.

Soil preparation mainly involves removing all weeds and raking the soil to a fine tilth. Water the area before you sow seeds.

Plant nasturtium seeds 1/2 inch deep and about 10 to inches apart for small varieties or up to 24 inches for large ones. Place two or three seeds in each planting hole. Keep them hydrated until the seeds sprout in 7-10 days.

In some cases, direct sowing is risky since you might root up the seedlings when weeding the bed. Avoid accidental weeding by labelling the planting site. Due to the typical abundant foliage, nasturtium seedlings are easily recognizable.

Sowing Nasturtiums In Pots

Sowing seeds directly into pots is the best method to grow nasturtium flowers in containers. This is an excellent option if you plan to raise an exquisite container display at the end of the season.

Nasturtiums grow best in natural stone or clay containers with good drainage. Combine the compost with fine gravel or grit to increase the drainage capacity and lower nutrient levels since they prefer poor soil.

Sow one or two nasturtium seeds per pot to avoid outgrowing. Leave about an inch of space between the compost level and the lip of the pot.

How To Care For Nasturtiums


Nasturtiums grow and bloom well when cultivated in a site of full sun that gets six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. This plant will still thrive in partial shade, though it won’t produce as many flowering blooms as in the full sun. In a warm climate, plant nasturtiums in partial shade, considering hot temperatures may cause the browning of leaves.


Nasturtiums grow exceptionally well in most types of well-draining soil, and prefer a soil pH level between 6.1 – 7.8. They can survive dry conditions and low fertility without damage. Nutrient-rich soils from manure and fertilizer are likely to produce plants with more foliage but few flowers.


Water nasturtiums regularly about 1 inch per week during the growing season until they are fully established. Once they are established and growing, they don’t require much water. Although this plant is drought-tolerant, it’s best to keep the soil moist during dry spells or summer to prevent nasturtium leaves from wilting.

Fertilizer & Mulch

This plant typically requires no fertilizer. Adding fertilizer may result in a decline in nasturtium flowers and a buildup in leaf growth.

Applying mulch around your Nasturtium plants can be a wonderful way to encourage healthy growth. Mulch made of aged compost will keep your soil moist and cool, inducing livelier flower blooms. In more temperate climates, mulch is usually not required.


Deadheading will produce more blooms over an extended period. Prune your plants lightly in late spring or early summer to restore shape and promote new flower production.

Snip the longest stems by 6 to 12 inches on trailing varieties and lessen browning leaves and flowers by pinching them off at the base. Shortening stems is not generally required for bushy varieties, but shearing spent flowers and dried leaves will improve the plant’s natural beauty.

If you’re growing nasturtiums in pots, they must be cut back periodically throughout the growing season. This encourages them to produce more of their desirable leaves.

Suppose plants get wood or lanky, trim plants by a third of their length. When cool nighttime temperature comes, they’ll quickly produce new growth.


When learning how to grow nasturtium in your garden, it’s vital to know that they resemble weeds before flowering. A helpful technique is to mark the planting area with a little tag so that you won’t dig the seedlings accidentally. Next, keep the grounds free of weeds – otherwise, the nasturtium will need to compete against them for the nutrients and water in the soil.
a window sill filled with lots of green plants.

How To Propagate Nasturtiums

You can take cuttings from young shoots during fall to grow indoors over winter. You may also need to cultivate a new plant from a cutting if a large part snaps off or if you have a nasturtium that you specifically adore the colour or taste of.

With sterilized gardening scissors, cut off a section of plant 3-5 inches long from the main plant, just below a leaf. It’s better to snip them instead of pulling them off. You likewise have to apply some rooting hormones. Remove the cutting’s bottom half set of leaves for roots to grow.

Fill the pot with potting soil or propagating medium. Place a coffee filter in the bottom of a container to prevent the soil from flowing out.

Place the cutting in the rooting compound up to the leaf node. Backfill the hole gently with your fingers and water the pot carefully.

Set the pot in a protected area with morning sunlight and evening shade. Make sure you are keeping the medium hydrated the whole time.

In two to three weeks, the cutting will grow new leaves, suggesting that roots are growing into the soil.

Once firmly rooted, transplant the stem into your sunny garden with the entire pot. Or then, you can transplant it into a container filled with a standard potting mix.

How To Harvest & Collect Seeds And Flowers

Throughout the growing season, you can begin harvesting both flowers and leaves. All parts of the nasturtium plant are edible, from leaves to flowers and seeds. But the leaves possess the best flavour when young and tender.

The plant is ready to be collected when it’s roughly 6 inches tall. When it comes to flowers, they are best harvested as soon as they bloom. Hence, think of how many you can reap in one stretch. You can simply pick some leaves, or buds, every once in a while to toss in a salad or use as a culinary decoration.

Use a pair of scissors to take what you need. Try to snip off only a little from one plant – only harvest 30% of leaves for continuous growth. Remember that these plants carry a pungent, peppery flavour, so you only want a little to spice your food.

Pick flowers, leaves and green seed pods in the morning before the sun’s heat has warmed them. This is when the blooms are their most plump.

Also note: you must leave your harvest for a few minutes after clipping. In this way, any ‘inhabitants’ can escape, and you will only end up biting what you can chew!

Common Pests & Diseases

a yellow leaf with black spots on it.
The lack of garden sanitation sometimes lures pests and diseases. There are a few pests and problems to be concerned with.


Nasturtiums are prone to get infected by aphids, cabbage loopers, leafhoppers, cucumber beetles, and other common garden pests. Removing the insects one by one and placing them into a bucket of soapy water is a fast and effective solution.

You can also curb them with a strong spray of water from a garden hose, which is often enough to eliminate them. Or try wiping down the leaves with soapy water to deter pests. Never apply insecticides if you will use nasturtium in cooking.

Most gardeners grow nasturtiums on the edges of their vegetable gardens to keep pests at bay. Gardeners who use this approach must inspect the plant for bugs once a week and pull them off as needed.

Another brilliant method is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of plants to hold off snails, slugs and squash bugs.


Nasturtium has high resistance to diseases. However, in certain instances, the following problems may arise:

Powdery Mildew

The plants may get powdery mildew, which is a fungal disease, in very wet conditions. This describes as a spotty powdery fungus on leaves, flowers or stems. To prevent this, plant seeds in a sunny area with well-drained soil and ample air circulation. Avoid having muddy and waterlogged soil by ensuring enough drainage in the planting site you pick. Also, remove infested nasturtiums from the garden to slow the spread.

Bacterial Leaf Spot

A bacterial leaf spot is unattractive but won’t kill your nasturtium plants. If this is the problem, small brown or black spots will show on the leaves, which may have water-soaked margins. Remove and eliminate any leaves the moment you see them on your plants. Space your plants far enough to improve airflow. Supply water using drip irrigation rather than sprinklers since this disease spreads by water splashing from soil to plant. And reduce the number of times leaves are wet.

Maintain the cleanliness of the area in your garden and remove any botanical debris before it can generate disease. Any equipment or tools that come in contact with infected plants must be disinfected.

Companion Plants When Growing Nasturtiums

Whether to attract predatory insects, bait pests from precious crops or enhance the flavours of neighbouring vegetables, nasturtiums are among the companions your flower or vegetable garden and other plants will ever have.

Planting nasturtiums with fruiting plants can help prevent aphids, squash bugs, and other pests that would otherwise feast on your other crops by masking the aromas of leaves and emerging fruits. Their strong, peppery oils help in disguising sweeter smells.

At the same time, they lure beneficial insects like pollinators and hoverflies. They can control garden pests, creating a natural pest trap and healthy biome in your garden. Once the pollinators are drawn to your garden, they will be more adapted to pollinate your other plants.

The plant’s heavy spread also makes it an excellent ground cover, screening the soil to reduce moisture loss. Using them as “filler” in your garden beds, you utilize available space so undesirable weeds can’t infiltrate.

Plant nasturtium with these plants to keep them healthy, fruitful, and pest-free:

  • broccoli
  • cabbages
  • cauliflower
  • cucumbers
  • kale
  • melon
  • potatoes
  • pumpkins
  • radishes
  • rose
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini
a cucumber is growing in a garden.


It’s clear why the lovely and versatile nasturtium is so greatly cherished in many gardens. Hopefully, you’ve learned everything you want to know to help you grow nasturtium in your garden.

Curb Wise