How to Grow Nasturtiums: Nasturtium Growing Guide

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. 

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

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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

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

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

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for 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

Trailing varieties make an excellent ground cover in shady spots and areas with poor soil. Trailing types can also be trained along a fence, cascade down from a container, or fill in a border. 

Dwarf varieties grow low to the ground and are more mounded. Grow them where space is limited. 

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums
Image credit Sarah Goodman

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.

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums
How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

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).

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

6. Don’t forget, nasturtiums are edible!

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

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.  

How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

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: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums
Nasturtium seeds, rudebekia seeds, and scabiosa seeds
How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums
Closeup of nasturtium 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.  
How to Grow Nasturtiums: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Nasturtiums

Want to add more color to your garden with flowers?

How to Grow Nasturtiums: Nasturtium Growing Guide
How to Grow Nasturtiums: Nasturtium Growing Guide
How to Grow Nasturtiums: Nasturtium Growing Guide
Image credit Sarah Goodman
How to Grow Nasturtiums: Nasturtium Growing Guide
Image credit Sarah Goodman
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