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A Complete Guide To Growing Nasturtiums From Seeds

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Nasturtiums are among the most delightful and versatile flowers to grow in a garden. With their vibrant colors and easy care, they are perfect for novice gardeners and experienced green thumbs alike.

Not only are nasturtiums known for their bright, peppery blooms that add a splash of color to any garden, but they are also celebrated for their culinary uses and benefits in companion planting.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about growing nasturtiums, from selecting the right variety to ensuring they thrive.

Choose the Right Variety

Nasturtiums come in several forms, each with its unique growth habits and floral displays. The most common types include trailing, bush, and climbing nasturtiums.

Trailing varieties are ideal for hanging baskets and overhanging edges, where their vines can drape gracefully.

Bush types are more compact and suitable for small gardens and borders. Climbing nasturtiums, on the other hand, are perfect for covering trellises or fences, adding vertical interest to your garden.

When choosing a variety, consider the space available in your garden and the visual impact you want to achieve.

Each type of nasturtium offers a range of colors, from bright oranges and reds to soft yellows and creams.

Selecting the right variety will ensure that your garden not only thrives but also aligns with your aesthetic goals.

Find the Perfect Planting Spot

Nasturtiums are not particularly fussy about where they grow but achieving optimal conditions can enhance their beauty and longevity.

These plants prefer a sunny spot but can tolerate partial shade, where they will still produce flowers but perhaps not as abundantly.

They thrive in loose, well-drained soil and can even adapt to poorer soils. In fact, overly rich soil can promote more foliage at the expense of blooms.

For those who prefer container gardening, nasturtiums are an excellent choice. Just ensure that the container allows for proper drainage and has enough room for the plants to spread. This is particularly important for trailing and climbing varieties that need space to expand.

Prepare the Soil for Success

Preparing the soil properly can make a significant difference in the health and vitality of your nasturtiums.

Start by tilling the soil to a depth of about 12 inches to loosen it, which will encourage good root development.

If your soil is heavy or clayey, incorporate some organic matter like compost or peat moss to improve drainage and texture.

Ensure that the planting area does not hold water, as nasturtiums dislike soggy conditions. If drainage is a concern, consider raising the beds or adding perlite or sand to the soil mixture. This will help prevent water from pooling and potentially causing root rot.

Plant Your Nasturtium Seeds

Planting nasturtiums from seed is straightforward. It’s best to sow seeds directly in the ground where you want them to grow, as nasturtiums do not always respond well to transplanting.

Plant seeds about half an inch deep and cover lightly with soil. Space the seeds about 10 to 12 inches apart to give each plant room to mature.

Nasturtium seeds germinate quickly, typically within 7 to 10 days, provided the soil temperature is around 55 to 65°F.

You can speed up germination by soaking the seeds in water overnight before planting. This softens the seed coat and makes it easier for the sprout to emerge.

Water Wisely

While nasturtiums are drought-tolerant once established, they perform best with regular watering. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water at the base of the plants to avoid soaking the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases.

During particularly hot or dry periods, you may need to water more frequently. However, be mindful not to overwater, as nasturtiums can suffer from root rot if the soil is too wet. Using a mulch can help retain soil moisture and also keep the root area cool.

Feed Your Flowers

While nasturtiums are known for their low maintenance, providing them with the right nutrients can enhance their growth and flowering.

Nasturtiums do not require a lot of fertilizer; in fact, too much can lead to lush foliage at the expense of flowers.

Use a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer to encourage blooming. Apply this once a month during the growing season, following the manufacturer’s directions to avoid over-fertilization.

Manage Pests and Diseases

Nasturtiums are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but they are not immune. Common issues include aphids, whiteflies, and fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

To combat these, encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, which prey on harmful pests.

For fungal issues, ensure good air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead watering to keep the foliage dry.

If pests become a significant problem, you can use organic insecticidal soaps or neem oil sprays. These treatments are effective and safer for the environment compared to chemical pesticides. Always test a small area of the plant first to ensure it does not react negatively to the treatment.

Encourage Blooming

To maximize your nasturtiums’ flowering potential, regular deadheading is necessary. This involves removing faded or dead flowers to encourage the plant to produce more blooms.

Additionally, pinching back the tips of the vines can stimulate bushier growth, leading to more flowers.

Light pruning can also rejuvenate plants mid-season, especially if they begin to look leggy or overgrown. By cutting back a third of the plant, you can promote a new flush of growth and flowering.

Harvest and Use Your Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are not only beautiful but also edible. The leaves, flowers, and seeds can all be used to add flavor and color to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.

The flowers have a peppery taste similar to watercress, while the leaves add a spicy note to green salads.

Harvest flowers and leaves in the morning when their water content is highest, which makes them crisp and more flavorful.

For the seeds, pick them while they are still green and tender for use as capers. Simply pickle them in vinegar and spices for a delightful addition to many recipes.

Growing nasturtiums is a rewarding endeavor that brings beauty and flavor to your garden. These vibrant plants are easy to cultivate and care for, making them ideal for both beginner gardeners and those with more experience.

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