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Want to Brighten up Your Garden? Grow Nasturtiums

Updated on February 28, 2012
nasturtiums | Source

I hardly looked at nasturtiums when I lived in the UK.

They grew like weeds where I lived.

Then I moved to Spain, and the gardens were filled with exotic blooms growing on trees or bushes, but I missed my ground cover plants.

In hot subtropical climates where there is a distinct lack of rain, color is the first thing to go.

Suddenly everything takes on a brownish hue, a straw color, broken only by the occasional trumpet flower or lantana.

No-one grows grass, the fields are brown and barren, and adding composted material to new gardens takes years to see results.

One day, I visited a friend of mine on a caravan site, and we had all those little rows of caravans, each with tiny tended gardens, and edged with gorgeous nasturtiums that brought color and light to an otherwise dismal scene.

I discovered a new joy in an old favorite.

Nasturtiums really do brighten up the garden.

lovely orange nasturtium flower
lovely orange nasturtium flower | Source

Where to plant nasturtiums

The seed of nasturtiums are big enough to handle easily. They look a bit like dried up peas, and are around the same size.

This makes it very easy to plant them exactly where you want them to grow.

Nasturtiums look brilliant when grown in planters, so that they spread over the sides. Many varieties are climbers or trailers, and most can do both.

They don't need any depths of compost either. In fact they don't even need compost, any old garden soil will do.

They are so eager to please, they will grow just about anywhere, no matter the climate, though of course frost will strike them down, although they quickly return as their underground roots are tough as old boots. Indeed, it has been said their roots can survive -15 degrees C of frost.

hollowed conctrete block
hollowed conctrete block | Source

Grow nasturtiums in concrete blocks

One of the mst effective ways I have seen of growing nasturtium to put on a wonderful display, is to fill hollowed out bricks or cement blocks with soil.

Line them up round your garden, or patio and pop a couple of nasturtium seeds in each.

This is great if you live in a dry climate as your only have to give them a little water now and then, to be rewarded with the most beautiful and colorful display.

Another great idea is if you have a wall in your garden, to cement a few of those blocks along the top, poking a drainage hole in before the cement sets, and plant trailing nasturtiums in the spring for an awesome summer display.

You can erect tepees with garden canes, and your nasturtiums will grow up them, giving a magnificent display.

nasturtiums brighten up a dark corner
nasturtiums brighten up a dark corner

If you have a corner in your yard or garden that doesn't get a lot of sunlight, perhaps because of over-hanging trees, and where perhaps you store old garden netting and things for future use, then toss a few nasturtium seeds in the general direction so that the corner will be filled with color come the summer.

Nasturtiums don't seem to mind light or shade, wet climates or dry, heat or cold, or rich or poor soil.

What a plant! They can grow almost anywhere, and give the appearance of having happy, smiley faces.

They really do brighten up your garden.

Poke a few seeds into the earth where you want them to grow, and they will take over, restricting the growth of weeds and complementing your other garden flowers.

nasturtiums in the rain
nasturtiums in the rain | Source
colorful nasturtiums
colorful nasturtiums | Source
fresh nasturtium seeds
fresh nasturtium seeds | Source

Nasturtiums are edible

You can use the leaves on salad dishes.

Their flavor is mildly peppery.

The flower and seeds can all be eaten, added to salads or stir frys, but I must confess to having never eaten any part of the nasturtium.

I don't know why. Maybe I am never hungry when I look at them.

Nasturtiums are annuals

They are annual flowers, designed to grow for one season only, but when the flowers die off, they leave their enormous seeds, many 2/3 per flower-head, and even if you try to collect them, you will note how easily they fall off.

They grow where they fall!

So really, where-ever you plant them, they will return year after year.

If you collect the seeds, simply leave them in a warm, dry place to dry out, then bag them up and pop them into the fridge for the winter.

They can be kept dormant there for years, but whenever you want to grow more, or share with friends, these seeds will sprout as soon as they are planted.


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    • GardenExpert999 profile image

      GardenExpert999 4 years ago from Scotland

      Their bright colouring does it for me! I hate picking flowers that brighten up dark corners in the garden.

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 4 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Nasturtiums are so pretty. The flowers look lovely in salads too. Not keen on the taste though - a bit peppery for me

    • GardenExpert999 profile image

      GardenExpert999 4 years ago from Scotland

      Your garden will look stunning with all those colours! We've got foxgloves too, springing up all over the place. They have defaulted back to their original purple-blue, but this year I planted some apricot coloured ones, so will be interesting to see what comes up next year once they have cross-bred with the natives!

      Among last year's self seeded crop of the usual yellow and red nasturtiums were some gorgeous salmon pink ones. The new ones are all sprouting, so fingers crossed the pink ones come back.

    • profile image

      AnnaStephens 4 years ago

      That's it! Nasturtiums in all the many grotty, shady corners of my garden. Between them and the foxgloves, that should brighten the place up. Thanks!!

    • GardenExpert999 profile image

      GardenExpert999 4 years ago from Scotland

      You people rock! Thanks a million for the comments and the share. In my experience, nasturtiums don't need started off. Just pop the seeds where you want them to grow and they'll come good. Beware because they can become a bit of a pest. coming up in the strawberry patch or among the potatoes, even when you didn't plant them there. I blame birds!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this look at nasturtiums. I'm glad to know about their habits and am looking forward to getting them started in some spots that I hope they will take over and rule in. Pinned to Gardening: Flowers/Birds board.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      We started nasturtium in eggs this year from seed. Wish I'd seen your hub earlier! I would have transplanted them into cinderblocks. Next year, definitely. Shared & voted up. Thanks.

    • GardenExpert999 profile image

      GardenExpert999 6 years ago from Scotland

      You're welcome. Nasturtiums are so common, we sometimes forget to notice what a wonderful plant it is!

    • TwilightDream profile image

      TwilightDream 6 years ago from Chennai, India

      This hub is not only superb; It is also brightened up with very colorful pictures of Nasturtiums. Thanks for sharing.

    • GardenExpert999 profile image

      GardenExpert999 6 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks cat, an old favorite indeed, loved by many :)

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      This is flower to love for many reasons as you have shown us in your informative hub. Thank you!