The nasturtium is a member of the Tropaeolum genus, which contains over 80 species of annual and perennial plants. They all have five-petaled flowers in a range of warm colours including red-orange and yellow. Their round leaves are green or variegated. Nasturtium seeds should be planted in the spring.
When to plant
Plant nasturtium seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last spring frost. Alternatively, wait until two weeks before the last spring frost and plant them outside. Nasturtiums are native to the Andes, and they germinate and bloom best in cool soil.
How to plant
Plant three nasturtium seeds to a pot indoors or plant individual nasturtium seeds 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches) apart outside in the garden. Bury the seeds 6.5 mm (1/4 inch) deep. Do not enrich the soil or feed your nasturtiums. Too much nitrogen-rich fertiliser grows leaves, not flowers. Plant the nasturtium seeds in full sun. Water them deeply, making sure the seed is soaked. After germination, water nasturtium seeds after the plants dry out.
What to plant
Most gardeners plant hybrids of the annual species of nasturtium seed, T majus. Popular hybrids include Alaska, with its interesting white variegated foliage, and Empress of India, with its pretty bright red flowers. Canary Creeper is a vining species that grows to 3 metres (10 feet) -- it needs a longer summer to produce its clusters of bright yellow flowers.
The seeds grow quickly into a small plant that can be grown in a pot or planted in the garden. All parts of the plant leaves, stems and jumbo-sized flowers are edible. They impart a peppery taste to salads, sandwiches and garnishes. Nasturtium seeds attract aphids -- this can actually be beneficial as nasturtiums act like a trap plant, keeping aphids away from the other plants.
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