6 Reasons to Grow Nasturtiums and 9 Delicious Nasturtium Recipes

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Nasturtiums are an extremely useful and attractive flowering plant that deserves a place in every garden.

It is the common name of Tropaeolum – the only genus in the family Tropaeolaceae.

These flowers got their common name because of their resemblance to watercress (Nasturtium officinale).

As you will learn in this article, there are many reasons to grow nasturtiums in your garden – they are incredibly useful in the garden itself, and also when harvested for culinary use.

Read on to find out more.

How to Grow Nasturtiums

A nasturtium seedling

Nasturtiums can be sown indoors in pots or outdoors where they need to grow between March and May. They bloom from summer to fall.

Nasturtiums are very easy to grow from seed and are no problem, especially if you are in no rush and just direct seed as soon as the danger of frost has passed in your area.

If you want to get earlier blooms, you can start the seeds indoors, but to avoid transplant shock, it’s best to grow them in biodegradable containers (toilet roll tubes work well), so you can just plant them in the garden.

The large seeds are easy to handle and are therefore the perfect way to introduce children to gardening.

Nasturtium seeds will germinate in a sunny location in 10 to 12 days. Remember to harden off plants grown indoors before planting them outdoors.

Where to place nasturtiums

Nasturtiums prefer a sunny and relatively sheltered location.

Nasturtiums thrive even in relatively poor quality soil, provided they are watered regularly. Try to keep the area around them weed-free to reduce competition, and don’t over-fertilize as fertile soil can lead to less flowering and more foliage.

Caring for nasturtiums

Beautiful yellow nasturtium flower

These plants are quite hardy, but be sure to water them well in dry weather. Be careful with watering, especially for plants in pots or planters, which can dry out more quickly. Let the soil dry out between waterings, but not too much or too long.

By cutting off faded or faded flowers, you will encourage the plant to bloom longer throughout the growing season. However, as you will learn later, you may want to harvest the flowers (and leaves) for a whole host of culinary uses rather than letting them wither.

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5 reasons to grow nasturtiums in your garden

Nasturtiums are attractive plants that can bloom profusely. They can bring color and visual appeal to your garden. But there are also a number of very practical reasons why growing these flowers is a good idea.

You can, for example, use nasturtiums to:

1. Attract beneficial insects

A bumblebee enjoying an orange nasturtium flower

Nasturtiums will attract a whole host of beneficial insects to your garden, including bees and other pollinators.

Adding nasturtiums to your outdoor space is one way to help honey bees and other bee species that are threatened by climate change and human activity.

We need bees for our very survival on this planet. It is therefore vital that as gardeners and growers we all do our part to protect and help them. Of course, the presence of pollinators in your garden will also allow you to obtain an excellent fruit harvest each year, if you produce your own food.

2. A companion plant for your fruits and vegetables

Nasturtiums used as a companion plant in a raised bed vegetable garden

It’s not just pollinators that will be attracted to nasturtiums. These plants also attract harmful insect species such as aphids, weevils, and beetles, making nasturtiums a brilliant companion plant in the vegetable garden.

This may not seem like a good thing right away, but since these pests are attracted to nasturtiums, they will leave your fruits, vegetables, or other crops alone. This is why nasturtiums are known as trap crops.

They are an excellent choice for keeping pests away from beans, tomatoes, fruit trees, and brassicas (plants in the cabbage family).

Another thing to keep in mind is that by attracting their prey, and in other ways, nasturtiums are also excellent at attracting predatory insects, which helps keep pest populations in check.

Nasturtiums make a brilliant companion plant for squashes, cucumbers, and other cucurbits because their scent repels or confuses many common pests that bother these plants.

3. For ground cover

Nasturtiums acting as ground cover

Companion planting is not an exact science, and the many ways plants interact with each other and with garden wildlife are not fully understood. Nevertheless, it is clear that nasturtiums can help other plants through their interactions with various insect species.

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But that’s not the only way nasturtiums can help neighboring plants.

These drought-tolerant plants can also make an excellent ground cover. This can be extremely beneficial, especially in drier and warmer regions, as it will reduce moisture evaporation and help protect the fragile soil ecosystem. Their thick cover and quick spread can also help repel weeds.

Nasturtiums can also be used as ground cover to nourish poor soils over time. Used as a kind of green manure, these plants can improve the soil in a given area by adding nutrients when left to decompose in place at the end of the growing season, or when cut and left to fall.

4. To cover unsightly walls or fences

Nasturtiums growing alongside an ugly fence.

The fast-growing nasturtium can also be useful for improving the visual appeal of your garden, as it can be used to trail along unsightly walls or fences.

It can turn an unattractive and useless part of your space into a beautiful and bountiful part of the garden.

5. For their performance

A basket of nasturtium flowers and leaves harvested from the garden.

Many people are surprised to learn that nasturtiums are edible.

Not only do these plants help other plants in your vegetable garden, but they can also be an incredibly useful edible crop on their own.

As an edible crop, these plants can really justify their place in your vegetable garden.

The flowers, leaves, and flower buds can all be used in a wide variety of recipes. Some of the best examples are given below:

10 Edible Recipes Using Nasturtium Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds

These are just a few of the best ways to use nasturtiums in your kitchen:

1. Nasturtium salads

A bowl of salad with nasturtium flowers and leaves.

One of the easiest and most obvious ways to eat nasturtium flowers and leaves, which have a peppery, watercress-like taste, is in salads.

Their peppery sting is perfect when paired with milder lettuce or other leaves, and you can even top your salad with a nasturtium vinaigrette. (You can, if you wish, use a nasturtium vinegar – like the one described below).

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