Growing and Using The Nasturtium Plant

Today I’ve gathered my favorite tips on growing and using the Nasturtium plant, and I hope it helps you with your gardening plans for this summer.

The Nasturtium Plant is more than just a pretty plant and flower that you can grow in your garden. Learn all the wonderful uses of this beautiful plant! #garden #gardening #edible #nasturtiumplant #nasturtiumflowers

Growing and Using The Nasturtium Plant

Nasturtium is more than just a pretty orange flower that you can grow in your garden. Perhaps you already knew but the nasturtium plant actually has many uses. It’s even edible! There are also some tips you need to have before you try to grow it yourself.

Tips for Growing the Nasturtium Plant

Nasturtium plants really like the sun. They are an annual plant that needs to be in full sun in order to thrive. They also have a very large seed that allows you to plant them directly in the ground in the early Spring, when you’re ready to plant outdoors. If you want to start them a few weeks earlier, so you have a longer growing season, you can begin them indoors, until the frost warning is over. Since I live in a Northern region, this is typically how I choose to start mine. Note: If you live in a southern region, you may not want to plant them somewhere where they will get direct, afternoon sun, as this can actually be too much sun for them to handle.

—Learn more about Starting Garden Plants From Seed & Growing Your Own Plant Starts.

If you do start your plants directly in the ground, plant them about an inch deep, and give about 10” between each seed. They are great to plant just about anywhere, because like some flowering plants, they aren’t sensitive to the type of soil they’re planted in. They actually do best in poor soil, and will not bloom well if fertilized. Give them plenty of water, and they should thrive.

Nasturtium grow well in the ground or you can grow them in containers. If you plant them in a container, be aware that you may need to trim them back a few times during the growing season. Nasturtium plants grow quickly, and will fill a container in no time at all. Whether you plant them in the ground, or in a container, you should trim off dead leaves and blossoms throughout the growing season to elongate the blooming period.

Nasturtium Flowers

Uses for Nasturtium Flowers

The uses for Nasturtium flowers goes far beyond pretty flowers in your garden or flower bed. Many people grow it purely for its usefulness as a plant, and not for its vibrant orange blossoms. Many years ago, nearly every home would have these plants growing, and no garden was complete without these edible blooms.

Medicinal Uses

Many people still grow Nasturtium today for its medicinal benefits. They are very high in Vitamin C, iron and other minerals, which makes them an excellent immune system booster. The leaves also can serve as a natural antibiotic. You can shorten the length of sickness, by just chewing a few of them or you can rub a bruised leaf over cuts and scrapes to help them heal quickly. If you want a natural laxative, that won’t harm the good bacteria in your digestive tract, you can try some of the ripe buds by consuming them in small amounts.

Foods

The entire Nasturtium plant is edible. People have used their seeds in place of capers in recipes. Its leaves have a spicy, peppery taste, and so make an excellent addition to salads or a wonderful addition to some homemade pesto. Many people also use the flowers to decorate food dishes in the summer, since they are totally edible as well. Being an excellent source of Vitamin C, it can be a great supplement to foods for the summer. Most people refer to the taste of the flowers as being similar to a radish.

Beauty

Eating a couple of Nasturtium leaves a day has been shown to help clear up acne. You can also make Nasturtium Tea. This Nasturium Tea recipe has been used for many people for many years. You don’t actually drink the tea, but rather use it on your face and scalp to begin rejuvenating the skin. Steep the plant and use it immediately after it cools or store it in your refrigerator for later use, as you would any tea. Apply it with a cotton ball or clean cloth as a tonic for your face. You can also use this nasturtium tea recipe to rejuvenate the hair follicles on your scalp and to help with healthy hair and hair growth by applying it to your head.

Insect Control

Nasturtiums are a great plant to have in your garden to keep insects at bay. The plant secrets a mustard oil that certain insects prefer to your garden vegetables. You can plant them as a trap crop to lure insects, such as aphids, away from your vegetables. Or plant them as a companion plant in your garden. Planting nasturtium around your cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, and squash can help repel insects such as cucumber beetles, whiteflies, aphids, and squash bugs.

—Lemongrass is also beneficial for your garden! Learn more about Growing and Using Lemongrass

Landscaping

Nasturtium flowers make an excellent ground cover, on top of being used as an edible plant, medicinal herb, and beauty aid. Since they grow so quickly, they’re an excellent plant to use if you have children. Since the plant is edible, you don’t have to worry about your children poisoning themselves if it’s consumed either. It’s bright, colorful blooms bring a touch of summer color to any container or flower bed, and are an excellent full sun plant. Be careful though, they will take over an area quickly, and can sometimes re-seed themselves, coming up year after year in some instances.

Now that you know how many wonderful uses it has, do you plan to include it in your garden this year? Tell us your tips for growing and using Nasturtium flowers if I haven’t mentioned them here….I would love to have your input!

Here are some more posts you may enjoy on gardening:

Is the Nasturtium plant a part of your garden or flower bed?

Merissa Bio

*Nothing on this website should be considered medical advice, please talk to your doctor about any changes you are considering making.

This post on the Nasturtium Plant was originally published on Little House Living in May 2017. It has been updated as of April 2020.

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11 Comments

  1. Merissa, nasturtium flowers grow easily here (mid Atlantic region), but I didn’t know they were edible! Thank you for this post!

  2. How about those deer, Merissa? Are they too spicy for the deer to eat or do I have to put them in my inner, deer proof, sanctum? What about the Rabbits? I have one that is no longer going to eat anything lying on my front lawn, but the all the rest might really like Nasturtiums? Any tips for all those rascals?

  3. This is such neat information, thanks so much for sharing! I live just north of Houston, TX, and I’m looking for a plant that can thrive in the the sun, but like you said, it may not be good for those of us down here. :/ However, it could possibly go in our back yard. Since it’s safe for humans, it’s safe for pets, I’m sure. Thanks again!!

  4. Thank you for this article. I will definitely try nasturtium. I just got rid of a bed of lemon balm,,,boy does that grow and grow and grow…I am hoping the nasturtium will be a good friend to my mint that was planted next to the bed.

  5. I love nasturtiums – I think they are beautiful. You are right about not growing them in the afternoon sun. They do well in morning sun, but last year the afternoon sun on my deck almost killed them. I had to move them to a shadier area and water them a lot. One year I planted the with my roses and they climbed up the lattice work and grew back threw the eastern side of the lattice toward the morning sun. They are such beautiful flowers. I’ve eaten the flowers in salads and I think they are so pretty. I did not know you could eat the leaves but that’s something I’ll try i my vegetable salads this year, not to mention putting a tonic on my hair. Thanks for all the tips!

  6. When I lived in Northern Illinois, I wanted to extend the enjoyment of my nasturtiums when it was going to freeze. I picked up the whole plant ( don’t think I took roots) and put it in a clear glass fish bowl filled with just water. It was beautiful and lasted for weeks.

  7. Mine grow in partial sun and shade too. They are taking over! They need no care or replanting here. They are consider an invasive species here. They take over natural habitats of other plants. Be careful how and where you plant them . They are having to be eradicated from some areas.

  8. Thank you Merissa for all of this information about nasturtiums. I love them. We have recently moved house (we downsized as our children have their own homes and families now) we are in a small 2 bedroomed terraced house on the level but with a small back garden and a little front garden.
    We live in Devon England and the weather is beautiful today. When we get around to doing the garden I plan to put nasturtiums in containers.

    God Bless you!