Learn how to grow nasturtiums, and add bright pops of color to your garden (and spice to your salad) with this easy to grow edible flower. Nasturtiums come in a range of colors and varieties including trailing, vining, and bush.
Grow hardworking nasturtiums in containers, borders, or in the garden, and they will reward you with season-long blooms. The nasturtiums planted in the cement blocks of my garden border (see picture below) are a familiar and much loved part of my winter garden.
7 Tips For How To Grow Nasturtiums
Follow these 7 tips to learn how to grow nasturtiums, and keep reading to learn how to grow nasturtiums in Arizona.
1. Plant nasturtiums at the right time
Start nasturtium seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost, and wait to plant outside until all danger of frost is past.
Alternatively, large nasturtium seeds are simple to plant, and it’s easy to direct sow nasturtiums in the garden. Sow seeds in the garden 2 weeks before the last frost. Soak seeds overnight for faster germination. Plant seeds ½ to 1 inch deep and 5-6 inches apart.
2. Choose the right location to plant nasturtiums
Grow nasturtiums in moist well-drained soil. In cool climates, plant nasturtiums in full sun.
Nasturtiums prefer cooler weather, so in warm climates grow plants in the shade to prolong their growing season.
Nasturtiums are very adaptable and grow well in shady areas, poor soil, dry conditions, and areas where other plants may not grow.
3. Choose the best type for your location
4. Encourage blooms
If you want an abundance of flowers, do not fertilize nasturtiums. Nutrient-rich soil grows plenty of green leaves, but not as many blooms.
Removing faded blooms also encourages more flowers. Trim back container-grown nasturtiums to keep the plant tidy and producing flowers.
The two photos above are of the same area of my yard in different years, but in the second image the seeds were planted in rich compost. We had an abundance of leaves that year, but not a lot of blooms.
5. Grow nasturtiums as a companion plant
Nasturtiums are a great way to prevent pests organically. Nasturtiums help repel squash bugs, whiteflies, and borers.
Tomatoes, radishes, squash, and fruit trees benefit from nasturtiums planted nearby. Nasturtiums are a ‘trap crop’ (insects feed on and lay their eggs in trap crops, instead of in other areas of the garden).
6. Don’t forget, nasturtiums are edible!
The flowers, leaves, and stems of nasturtiums are all edible. They have a fresh peppery taste and can be quite spicy! To harvest blooms and leaves for eating, pick early in the day (but after the dew dries).
To keep flowers fresh longer, immerse in cold water for about 10 minutes immediately after picking. Use flowers and leaves immediately, or store them in the refrigerator in a damp paper towel. The unripe seed pods can be pickled for a tasty caper substitution.
7. Save seeds to share and plant
Each flower sets several seeds, and nasturtiums will self-seed easily year after year. At the end of each season, collect extra seeds from the ground to save and share, or plant in other areas.
The large seeds are easy to collect. I often enlist my kids and their friends to collect the seeds for me (the going rate in my garden is 1 cent per seed). For more information, read this post about saving seeds.
How to grow nasturtiums in Arizona
- Plant nasturtiums directly in the garden from October through January in the low-desert of Arizona.
- You can expect blooms from about February through May.
- Nasturtiums planted in shaded areas will last a little longer into May than those planted in full sun.
- Nasturtiums thrive in cool winters. If we get a frost event for a day or two, cover them with frost cloth and they may survive.