Looking for flowers that come in gorgeous shades of the sunset? Flowers that look like beautiful rays of sunshine? Try planting nasturtiums in your garden. Nasturtiums are the most cheerful looking flowers imaginable. With their vibrant bright yellow, orange, red, pink, and pale coral colored flowers, they brighten up any garden.
Nasturtiums are one of my favorite springtime flowers. Even the leaves bring a smile. They look like delicate lily pads and I always imagine a frog sitting on them. They bring images of the fairytale The Frog Prince.
Every spring when friends and family are over they are always amazed at my happy nasturtiums blooming everywhere and all over my garden. I’ll have them bouncing out of pots, out of my raised beds, in my veggies patch, and popping up all over in the ground.
I even had seedlings on my hill that I had left wild. Some of these seedlings were from plants that had set seed and I must have missed harvesting quiet a few of these seeds because new plants were showing up all over. I educated my gardener on what these seedlings look like so he wouldn’t pull them out thinking they are weeds. And when spring arrived, in full force these seedlings became nice big nasturtium plants.
Because nasturtiums prefer cooler temperatures, they will bloom prolifically all spring and into summer. The most glorious display of vibrant nasturtiums are in the cooler spring time months typically from April to end of May.
By the time July rolls around and the weather gets warmer nasturtium plants will start dwindling, turning brown and stop blooming. At this time I just cut them down to about 4 leaves. Typically I find my nasturtium plants survive the summer months as long as they are getting watered along with other plants. And then magically as the temperatures get cooler and fall arrives, I will see new leaves appear, and buds too. I’ve even had a few nasturtium plants bloom sporadically through our mild winter months.
I know you will get tiered of me saying this again and again, but because nasturtiums are gorgeous springtime flowers, the seeds have to be planted in the fall. This will assure that the seeds form strong roots and as springtime temperatures get warmer they will start developing big leafy clumps with tons of blooms.
In the past I’ve planted nasturtium seeds in the spring, only to have a lackluster performance or none at all. Once I figured out that these seeds like to be sown in the cool fall months, I’ve had success ever since.
I like planting nasturtium seeds in pots so they can spill over and cascade down. But occasionally I have planted them in the ground as well. I have noticed over the years that the best spot for nasturtium seeds is under the canopy of other plants.
As you can see in the pictures above these nasturtium plants went nuts under the shade and shelter of a large hydrangea plant. Similarly if I have a rose bush or a geranium plant in a pot, I will plant the seed at the base of those plants so that the seed and eventual nasturtium plant is sheltered and gets shade even when the sun gets too hot. These nasturtium seedlings will reach out towards the sun anyway, but the plant itself is in under the shade of a larger plant.
There are many varieties of nasturtiums. Some are trailing, some are climbers, while others are dwarf basket varieties for those of us who would rather have more compact nasturtium plants.
No matter what variety of nasturtium seeds you try, you will get the best performance by planting them in the fall timeframe. Just press the nasturtium seed into the soil and let nature take it’s course. The seeds will start forming small leaves in early spring and as the temperatures become warmer, within a few weeks they will just get big almost over night with loads of tiny buds ready to bloom.
Once the heat of summer gets too warm for these tender flowers, these nasturtium plants will start to turn dry and yellow and will develop lots of seeds. These seeds look like little green peas.
You can collect these seeds and dry them to plant later in the fall or to pass them on to friends and family. I harvested hundreds of seeds with the help of Anjali and Rani and dried them to plant later.
One time after collecting the seeds I forgot to bring them in and left them in my trug. Once the rains came all the nasturtium seeds became little seedlings. I took each seedling and put them in little nursery pots to grow bigger, so I could distribute them come spring.
Once you plant nasturtium seeds, you may never have to buy nasturtium seeds ever again. Just keep harvesting the seeds each year and use those seeds to re-plant and get new nasturtium plants. Below are pictures of plants from seeds that I harvested last year in late summer and then planted them in pots all over my garden in the fall. All the seeds took and have sprouted this spring and are blooming in profusion.
The wonderful thing about the cheery nasturtium is that both the leaves and flowers are edible. I love using nasturtium flowers in my desserts. I’ve used them as edible decorations on Greek yogurt parfaits, on cakes, and in salads as well.
There are many brands of nasturtium seed packets available at the nursery. All of them have clear planting instructions on the back of the packages. Here are some growing tips from Botanical Interests – one of the seed packets I used to grow some gorgeous Cherry Rose Jewel nasturtiums.
Try growing nasturtiums in your garden and see how these cheery nasturtiums can brighten up your garden.