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How to Grow & Use Nasturtiums

Published by Anne Gibson at 7:13 am under Colour & Fragrance,Herb Gardens,How to Grow,Vegetables & Herbs

Tips for Growing Nasturtiums

Have you heard the saying: Be nasty to nasturtiums? There seems to be some truth to this because these low-maintenance carefree
herbs thrive in a poor, dry soil without a lot of water or work making them a plant of choice for many thrifty and busy gardeners!


These wonderful herbs are really easy to grow from seed, root
divisions or cuttings (and will also root in water or in a pot with loose
sandy potting mix in a shady spot).
Choose a dwarf variety for micro garden spaces, climbers with longer vines for vertical gardens or variegated leaf varieties;
Sow seeds in spring and summer if you get frost but if you live in a warm-hot climate, plant them anytime;
Sow the seed to a depth of twice the length of the seed (about 1.5cm or 1/2 an inch) as they need darkness to germinate;





Seeds germinating in tray

Keep moist so the seeds germinate and once established, youll likely find they dont require much water perfect for those with water restrictions
or limited rainfall;
They can take heat and drought but not frost and from my observations, they dont like strong winds either;


To improve nasturtium seed germination, try a)

soaking in a seaweed solution or warm water
overnight b) gently nicking a small section on the
seed with a knife or c) rubbing with a little
sandpaper down to the creamy inner seed.

Grow very well in poor, dry soils so plant nasturtiums where other flowers and vegetables would be unsuccessful;
Arent fussy about sun or semi-shade do well in both;
Can be trained to grow vertically or cascade down from hanging baskets and other containers depending on the cultivar;


If you want an abundance of flowers, they prefer a

dry soil with some humus content but if you want to
grow them for their luxuriant leaves plant them in
nutrient rich soil!

If you dont pick all the flowers, they will self-seed profusely and provide you with loads of free plants;
Require very little care if you have sufficient rainfall in the warmer months, you may not have to water at all;


Encourage more flowers to grow and a more compact shape by

pinching out the runners from time to time.

Culinary & Medicinal Uses for Nasturtiums

Ways to use the different parts of the Nasturtium plant

(Leaves, Flowers, Buds & Seeds) in your Kitchen


Add a few cheerful blossoms to a vase. Nibble on

these edible flowers while they brighten up your
kitchen bench.

1. Leaves: The most familiar and commonly used part of the plant.


The tender leaves have a slight peppery bite to them and are quite
similar to watercress in flavour. Ive found leaves store well in a sealed
plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Best when picked young and tender, in cool weather. The older the leaves are, the spicier the flavour.


Tasty addition to all kinds of salads I like to cut

mine into strips. Their peppery flavour makes them
an excellent rocket substitute.

Leaves can be stuffed with tuna or chicken salad, then rolled up as an entre or snack.
Use in risottos, soups, juices, casseroles, pesto and rice dishes.


Get creative and make your own sandwich art!

Stuff and bake them as you would grape leaves. Try a mixture of rice, currants, nuts and savoury spices like cinnamon, mint and cloves.
Make vinegar using the leaves, buds and blossoms and a bottle of white wine or champagne vinegar.
Try them stir fried, wilted with other greens or mince and add to chilled summer soups.
Chop or slice leaves into small pieces and use them instead of green onions or garlic.


Use as a decorative base on a plate for serving appetizers (and

a few flowers on the side as a garnish).

Grind or mince the chopped leaves with salt, chillies and garlic until they form a paste. Use to flavour stir fries or other dishes.
Nasturtiums are not only beautiful and edible, they have health benefits as well. The leaves are high in vitamin C and also have strong antibacterial and anti-tumor properties. Tea made from the leaves is a common preventative for colds and flu.
Grinding the leaves in water and straining is an easy way to make an all-natural disinfectant wash for minor cuts and scrapes.
Tip: If leaves and flowers are chopped up finely and added to other greens and vegetables, the warmth in their flavour is not as noticeable.

2. Flowers: Pick blossoms the same day as using, as close as possible to serving time. Store in the refrigerator or a vase.


Use fresh in sushi, salads and beverages as an edible


Stuff fresh blossoms with a blend of soft cheese (like goat, ricotta or cottage cheese) and fresh herbs, salmon or minced dried fruits.
Mince the blossoms, add a little lemon peel and blend into fresh butter.


Add flowers & a few garlic cloves to white

wine vinegar and allow the flavours to infuse
for 6-8 weeks - a delicious addition to

Use the zesty-tasting flower instead of mustard in sandwiches.

Make nasturtium oil by blending your choice of oil with a handful of blossoms and a clove of garlic. Strain before using.


Try floating the flowers in your punch bowl

3. Buds: Make sure the buds are fully closed and leave a bit of the stem attached when picking and use fresh just as you would the leaves to add a
peppery zip to dishes and salads.
Wash, drain and cover with boiling vinegar in a covered jar for pickled buds that taste just like capers.
Add a fresh kick to salads like tabbouleh, potato and pasta salads.


Use in place of peppercorns and pepper to season dishes and


4. Seeds: Can be harvested green as soon as the flowers have fallen off (immature for eating) or when mature for seed saving after they have fallen from
the plant.


MYO Seasoning - Lightly roast the mature seeds on an oven tray and
then grind in your pepper grinder (or mortar & pestle) and you can
make your own home grown pepper!

Nasturtium Capers Collect flower buds while they are still tight heads and harvest the unripe green seedpods before they harden and fall to the


They have a similar taste and texture to capers so make a great


They have a similar taste and texture to capers so make a great substitute. Wash and add buds and seedpods to a clean glass bottle. Add enough
vinegar to cover and your pickled capers will be ready to eat in just three days!


Use as a condiment with savoury dishes and fish. Keeps well for at
least a year out of the fridge.

Tip: If the seeds are pricked with a fork before adding the vinegar, this allows the flavour of the hot vinegar to permeate the density of the seeds and
helps to preserve them.

Great for your Health

Check out some of the health benefits of nasturtiums in this video:

Nasturtium Recipes

Nasturtium Butter: Chop up a good handful of nasturtium flowers and mix with softened butter. Depending on what flavours you like, try adding
pepper, garlic, or onions. Chill in a chocolate mold or small glass serving dish. Great with fresh bread with its pretty confetti-like colours.

Nasturtium Mayonnaise: A delicious accompaniment to fish. Just add chopped nasturtium flowers and/or leaves, a squeeze of lemon juice and some
crushed garlic to your mayonnaise for a tasty alternative.
Eat Your Colours Salad: Dice and mix the following together:
Red: 1 1/4 cups (or 1/2 pint) cherry tomatoes sliced in half; Orange: 1 large carrot and 1 orange capsicum (sweet pepper) diced; Yellow: 1 chopped
mango; Green: 1 sliced cucumber, unpeeled and 1/4 honey dew melon chopped; Blue: handful of common blue borage flowers; Purple: 1/4 diced purple
salad onion.


Try making this rainbow salad with nasturtiums - almost looks too
pretty to eat! Optional: Handful of salted pumpkin seeds or other nuts,
mint sprig and orange nasturtium flower to decorate and eat! Add a
dressing of your choice, or serve with vanilla yogurt or cottage cheese.
(Recipe from Colleen Croppe)

Nasturtium Pesto: Learn how to make your own in this video.

Nasturtium Capers: Learn how to pickle the seeds to make capers in this video.

Grow some in a hanging basket, up a trellis or arbor, a ground cover under a tree, in your vegie patch, a windowbox or brighten
up a rock garden or difficult area. They will bring you joy, good health, a rainbow of colour and solve many problems. Isabell


Well, I hope youre learning to love these incredible herbs like I am! There are even more uses for nasturtiums including using them as a pest strategy
for your garden more about this in a future post! If you are already growing nasturtiums, how do you use them? Id love you to share your
experiences and find out if this information is useful to you.


Tropaeolum Majus - learn to love them!

Interested to learn more about Nasturtiums? You may like 20 Reasons to Grow this Amazing Herb or grab yourself a copy of Isabell Shipards herb
book or DVD course for a wealth of health giving information on edible herbs for your garden. Or check out the How to Grow articles for more
If you dont want to miss future posts, subscribe to my newsletter at the top of the page (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or
to the right.

Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 All rights reserved.



You may also like:

Easy Guide to Growing Perfect Peas |

How to Grow More Plants for Less |

Inspiring Small Garden Spaces |

Fast Food! DIY Instant Veggie Garden - Part 1


6 Tips for Abundant Edible Container Gardens


Ten Tips for Creating Beautiful Gardens |

Tags: Companion plants, Flowers, Herbs, how to grow, Medicinal plants

19 responses so far

19 Responses to How to Grow & Use Nasturtiums

# Susanon

23 Nov 2011 at 6:17 pm

I have planted some in a bed and they seem to have dried out with the weather in the last few weeks. I thought it would be covered in more than
enough nasturtiums, but it seems my soils at present may be too thin! Oh well, will keep trying!

# The

Micro Gardeneron 23 Nov 2011 at 6:42 pm

Hi Susan
I wouldnt worry about it too much. Mine go through this sometimes too but bounce back. I just think of it as a bad hair day! They are very
It has been dry and windy here too and if you want to give yours a perk up to encourage new growth, try a foliar spray of seaweed on the leaves
and flowers as a tonic. They will take up the trace minerals more quickly than just watering seaweed into the soil. Otherwise you could try a drink
of compost tea (make in a bucket of water with a handful of compost, worm castings or manure); or top dress around each plant with a handful of
rock dust or minerals depending on what you have available.
Id also recommend using a moisture meter for your soil. Any plant in stress will show symptoms. If the soil moisture is 10-30%, Id suggest
giving them a drink. Unless there is sufficient moisture they cant take up the food from the soil to photosynthesize and produce more leaves and
Most of the nasturtiums I have grow in a very shallow soil (mainly created from mushroom compost, minerals and manure) so I suspect it may be
lack of moisture (and or exposure to hot dry winds) that may be causing them to thin out. I did add lucerne mulch to my garden beds and this has
kept some moisture in the soil during the hot weather. I havent fed them again since they went into the beds although have watered from time to
time and about monthly with seaweed when Im doing other parts of the garden. Other than that I just pick and eat.
Let me know how you go and if I can help further.
Cheers, Anne

# andreaon

24 Nov 2011 at 9:46 pm

As always your information is clear, concise and easy to understandyou do a wonderful job here

# The

Micro Gardeneron 25 Nov 2011 at 7:51 am

Thanks Andrea! Glad the info is useful hope your garden is growing well.

# Ken

Robinsonon 17 Dec 2011 at 5:54 pm

Greetings to all
I just cant get these seeds to grow.
I live in tropical Australia, can anybody help?


# The

Micro Gardeneron 17 Dec 2011 at 6:20 pm

Hi Ken
I must admit here in the sub-tropics, where we have both hot and dry weather AND very wet weather at times, theres a wide range of conditions
for the nasturtium seeds to tolerate. I find my self-sown nasturtium seeds that fall from the plants will germinate after several days of rain in the
summer but struggle a bit in very dry weather. If your soil is constantly wet you may be better off trying to grow them in containers if you havent
already, so you can somewhat control the weather at least until they get started!
Here are a few trouble shooting tips in the meantime that may help with germinating Nasturtium seeds successfully let us all know how you go!
1. Soak in a seaweed solution overnight before planting.
2. Seeds need darkness so make sure they are planted deeply enough.
3. If the seeds are too wet or cold, they can rot. Check and see if they are soft or mushy! If so, this could be the problem.
4. The seeds are best sown where you want them to grow rather than transplanting. Or start them in toilet roll pots or similar biodegradable pots
that you can plant into the garden once germinated as this system wont disturb the roots. The pots will break down over time in the soil.
5. Sow in full sun partial shade.
6. Make sure there is good drainage otherwise the seeds will rot.
7. You may find Life on the Balconys Seed Scarification Experiment an interesting read on different ways to germinate nasturtiums as part of the
Grow Project.
Hope this helps!
Keep us all posted with your results.
7. # Butterfly Flower | Landscaping - Gardeningon 21 Dec 2011 at 9:18 pm
[...] The Butterfly Flower, Aschepias tuberosa L., is a must for the butterfly garden. Butterflies will seek out your garden when you have this
vigorous perennial shrub-like plant. [...]
8. # 20 Reasons to Grow this Amazing Herb | The Micro Gardeneron 23 Dec 2011 at 11:08 am
[...] For more great information on Nasturtiums and other amazing herbs for health, food and medicine check out Isabell Shipards wonderful herb
book How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life? or read How to Grow & Use Nasturtiums. [...]
9. # Coping with Caterpillars Part 2 |on 26 Apr 2012 at 10:40 pm
[...] to be extremely effective, although I do use it in conjunction with other techniques on this list. Nasturtiums in particular work well as a catch
crop or sacrificial plant for mummy white cabbage [...]
10. # 15 Benefits of a Herb Spiral in your Garden |on 21 Jun 2012 at 1:49 pm
[...] 12. Easy Companion Planting. Many herbs have mutually beneficial relationships with other plants. Flowering herbs also attract beneficial
pollinating insects like bees, butterflies and wasps. Growing the herbs up close and personal in a herb spiral helps the overall health of your
garden flavours improve, less pests and better pollination. Include herbs like chamomile, borage, calendula, French marigolds and nasturtiums.

# the

end of the worldon 10 Aug 2012 at 6:06 pm

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
Ill make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. Ill definitely comeback.
12. # How to Plant out a Herb Garden |on 14 Aug 2012 at 9:07 pm
[...] Dry (in the shadow of taller plants or under trees) nasturtium; yarrow (light shade); parsley; thyme; oregano; [...]
13. # Ten Tips for Creating Beautiful Gardens |on 10 Dec 2012 at 4:29 pm
[...] e.g. yellow capsicums; orange marigolds; calendula; cherry tomato varieties like yellow pear; nasturtiums; orange chard; cosmos; yellow [...]

# Daveon

06 Nov 2013 at 2:38 pm

Hi, been loving my Nasturtiums!! But alas the season is over and they have gone to seed. Ive picked a rather large bag full of the green seeds and
want to know can they be frozen until wanted for eating? Or perhaps dried in a dehydrator? Thanks for all your other tips, I love em!! hahaha!

# The

Micro Gardeneron 06 Nov 2013 at 5:13 pm

Hi Dave
Great to hear you have enjoyed your nasturtiums. It depends on how you want to use them I guess. I wouldnt recommend freezing them they
will likely lose their viability. If you are going to pickle them whilst green to preserve them, you can do that straight away. If you want to save

some for seed for next season, allow the green seeds to dry out naturally then store them in an airtight self seal bag in an envelope in a cool, dark
place. They naturally shrivel and go brown on their own so no need to use a dehydrator. You can also grind them up as a tasty pepper if you wish
when dry. Hope this helps.

# caroline

cummingon 22 Dec 2013 at 11:38 am

Hi there,
Just been reading through different sites about nasturtiums. I want to plant en masse but can they attract so many aphids that these will still spread
to veggies or other plants in the garden I am unclear whether the aphid magnet is a good thing for the veggies or can turn out to be a bad thing for
them in the end? Thanks

# caroline

cummingon 22 Dec 2013 at 11:40 am

Also, we have some growing up the very end of our driveway by a neighbours fence what is the procedure for transplanting these to the garden
can they handle that?

# The

Micro Gardeneron 23 Dec 2013 at 6:33 am

Hi Caroline
Aphids are a natural part of the life cycle in most gardens (just part of the food chain). They often feed on plants that are weak or unhealthy in
some way so if you work on your soil by adding plenty of compost, nutrients and organic matter for your plants, this will help keep them in
balance. There are many ladybird varieties that feed on aphids and if you avoid using chemicals in your garden, they will arrive to take care of
business for you should there be an imbalance in aphid numbers. I see this all the time in my garden. The other day I noticed a dill plant that was
struggling due to lack of water, with aphids on the stems/leaves starting to feed. The next day several ladybirds had arrived to enjoy a banquet. The
day after that, there were no aphids in sight! Without some aphids, theres no food for the ladies and they are effectively your best friends (pest
patrollers) so allow nature to take care of itself without worrying too much!
Re the nasturtiums, I have mass plantings and never had a problem with aphids getting out of control. I cant even recall seeing them in the patch
Im thinking of. White cabbage butterflies lay eggs on them so Ive had caterpillars but I use this to my advantage as a strategy to draw the
butterflies away from my vegies like broccoli that they would normally choose to raise their families on. Think of nasturtiums as one strategy you
can use in an organic garden for pest management and control. Interplanting them amongst your veggies is another. They will bring in the bees for
pollination and the strong smell of the leaves can deter other insects and confuse some pests. They are one of the MUST HAVE plants in my
garden and most loved for their many uses and advantages. Id never ever plant a garden without them. I hope this helps clarify things! Cheers,

# The

Micro Gardeneron 23 Dec 2013 at 6:42 am

Caroline in my experience, nasturtiums can be fussy movers. They can be transplanted (although not all successfully sometimes) but will definitely
fold their arms in protest and look like youve beaten them up for up to a week or more before finally agreeing reluctantly to get on with life in
their new home! Some plants can handle moving house better than others. That said, if you need to transplant them rather than plant more from
seed (which they produce copious amounts of), then I suggest watering them with seaweed the day before the move (helps prevent transplant
shock) and preparing a better home for them to move to, so they actually rather prefer it to their old one! i.e. add some fresh nutrients, compost and
seaweed and water in well so when they arrive its like youve said Hey Ive put on a special dinner for you to celebrate your new house! Tuck
in. This will help soften the blow and theyll adapt much quicker and likely protest less! Also, only move them in cool weather i.e. very early
morning and perhaps protect them from the heat of the sun with some shade cloth for a few days so they settle in. The soil will be different, the
conditions will be different and anything you can do to help them adapt will help swing a successful move in your favour. Good luck.
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