Newest Review: ... they do like a sunny patch, they seem to tolerate all conditions. Certainly Nasturtiums are not keen on overly rich soil and do not ne... more
Idiot proof flowers!
Member Name: spiritwood
Date: 01/07/13, updated on 01/07/13 (83 review reads)
Advantages: Very easy to grow, come back each year, colourful and expressive , piles of flowers.
I love to grow plants and veggies and I particularly love plants that spread all over the place and grow quickly. The Nasturtium is a colourful, low spreading plant which comes in a variety of colours and leaf patterns. There are climbing varieties (great for walls), hanging varieties, compact ones and great big luscious varieties that offer colour all summer long.
This has to be one of the easiest plants to grow. They thrive in poor soil and can even grow in the tiny cracks in old stone walls. The bonus of growing Nasturtiums is that when they do go to seed, you can collect the fat, wrinkley seeds and re-plant them out in the spring, making them a very economical plant to grow. They also act as a pest deterrent, and as I will not ever use slug pellets or the like in my garden, they attract the slugs away from my Brassicas.... (that sounds a bit Les Dawson...)
The humble Nasturtium is an annual plant whose flowers and leaves are edible. The have wide oval leaves with attractive veins and bright large flowers. They are not a delicate plant, these grow quite rapidly and spread across the ground. The leaves and flowers are large and showy, and they bring a real brightness to the garden with their summery colours. My favourite varieties have the sunset colours, the oranges, yellows and reds, but there are almost black ones available to if you fancy a bit of Goth gardening.
COST: I save the seeds from mine, but I love them so much that I always buy more each year. They usually cost around 99p a packet online (for between 25-60 seeds, dependant upon variety). If you are feeling really flush, you can buy the creamy and dark red ones for a whopping £1.99 a pack...
Nasturtium seeds can be sown directly into the ground in the spring. They do not need to be buried deeply into the soil and once planted they can be pretty much left alone. Although they do like a sunny patch, they seem to tolerate all conditions. Certainly Nasturtiums are not keen on overly rich soil and do not need any kind of feeding, indeed if your soil is too nutrient rich, you will get fewer flowers.
Once planted, the seeds will sprout through the top soil in around a week to ten days. The initial tendrils are a light lime green colour, and once sprouted the plant will grow quickly.
The flowers and leaves can be picked all throughout the growing season, for medicinal use or for salads.
This needs to be verging on the neglect side. You will probably not need to water them unless we get a very hot summer (ha ha - as if!), otherwise leave them be. Too much water will kill them. To get the maximum blooms from your plants, deadhead them when you can. If growing these in pots, then you may need to give them a trim occasionally.
Nasturtiums do not like frost and will go a translucent colour and die back. Eventually you will be left with a type of straw which is easy to pick up and compost. If you have not collected the seeds then you will find loads underneath the foliage as they start to die back. Collect these up, let them air dry and replant them next spring, or leave them where they are to grow again next year. They can be protected by a light covering of top soil.
Many insects are attracted to Nasturtiums which makes them superb for companion planting. Shove a load around a veggie patch and you will have far less trouble with creatures eating your veg and salads. Caterpillars in particular LOVE Nasturtiums and every year we have loads and loads of them munching their way through them. I grow so many that I still have more than enough for ground coverage and colour, so I leave the "pests" to get on with it. You will also find slugs and certain types of fly feeding on your Nasturtiums. Again, this takes them away from my veggies so I do not mind.
WHERE TO PLANT:
I plant the bulk of mine along the front path as they have a spectacular display of colour which lasts for months. The rest go to the veggie patches and pots. They are mainly used here for the Brassica family (cabbages, broccoli etc) and salads. Blackfly are very fond of Nasturtiums, so plant them where blackfly are a problem on your veggies. They grow well under fruit trees/bushes and attract the pests away from the fruit. They also help with pollination as they attract bees and butterflies. Ants do not like them as the Nasturtium contains a mustardy oil so plant these near your kitchen.
Both the leaves and flowers can be eaten, they have a peppery taste rather like watercress. To compliment the pepper quality, I use sweet lettuces, apples and carrots mixed in with shredded leaves. We eat the flowers whole or stuff them like a courgette flower (cream cheese is good). The leaves go very well with houmous on wholemeal bread.
The leaves can be shredded and added to a bath, to encourage the oil to come out of the leaves. The oil is antiseptic and good for wounds. Traditionally the leaf juice was used as a cure for baldness as it was said to stimulate hair growth.
Eating the leaves gives you a Vitamin C boost, and the plant is antibacterial and anti-fungal. I expect that you would have to eat a lot to gain these effects. As the leaves and quite astringent, I have used them in a cleansing bath scrub (sea salt, shea, juiced Nasturtium leaves, tea tree and fresh mint).
I love these plants and have managed to grow them directly, in pots and in baskets. Every year they come back and fill my garden with sunshine and they provide an oasis for big fat bumble bees. I have grown them for so long that cannot imagine a garden without Nasturtiums in it, and alongside Calendula they are the most prevalent plant in my garden. They truly are idiot proof, and are so low maintenance that they are the perfect starter plant for children.
The cheapest seeds that I have found online are on Amazon, starting at just 99 pence for 40 seeds (from Premier seeds direct. I have purchased many seeds from this company and they are excellent). I would encourage anybody who is not green fingered to try these plants as they are very hard to kill!
10/10 for colour, ease of growing, longevity and showy displays.
Summary: Fantastic, easy to grow feature flowers.