Nasturtiums are annual flowering plants with funnel-like flowers containing about five petals each. There are about eighty known species and each is easily recognizable do to the bright, intense colors of the flower. The flowers are commonly shield shaped and the most common colors are red, orange, or yellow. The leaves of the plant are reminiscent of lily pads can grow 2-7 inches wide.
Growing Requirements for Nasturtium
One of the easiest plants to grow is the nasturtium plant. These flowers are usually planted in areas where nothing else could grow and are known as the hardiest plant out there. They do not usually survive transplanting but are good subjects for children’s gardens. Nasturtiums can grow in poor soil that is well drained which means they do not need to be fertilized often. In fact if the soil is too rich the plant will grow too many leaves and not many flowers.
They do well in hanging baskets and apartment planters. In climates such as California, nasturtiums can be grown year round. However, the roots of the plant can survive deep freezes. If grown outdoors the seeds should be planted in summer or even in spring. These plants grow very rapidly and will germinate between seven and ten days, and will bloom about one month after planting.
Taking Care of Nasturtium Flowers
Because nasturtiums are such hardy plants they do not need much attention. In fact they should only be watered sparingly because they will rot and die. The flowers can survive in full sunlight to bright shade. In these conditions, the nasturtiums will bloom all summer long.
Uses and History of Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are famous not only for their hardiness and ease of growth but for being an ingredient in salads and other recipes. All parts of plant are edible and have a distinct spicy taste to them. High in vitamin C, these flowers are common in soups and sauces. One should be very careful in eating these plants. Do not consume any part of a nasturtium that has come from a florist or nursery because these places use insecticides on all of their plants. If you accidentally consume any part of the plant treated with insecticide, contact a doctor immediately.
The flowers are native to Mexico and Peru and were introduced to Europe in the 16th century. It has long been considered a symbol of conquest and victory of battle. Women in the Victorian era used the plant to mask bad smells.
Nasturtium Flower Diseases and Pests
Nasturtiums have little problem concerning insects and diseases. The spicy flavor of the flower repels most insects and other animals. However, aphids may become a problem at the height of the season.
More Reputable Information on Nasturtiums
Details on the Nasturtium flower can be found at the University of Vermont website.
University of Illinois Extension covers Nasturtium: Herb Gardening