Nasturtiums – Cool Season Flowers with Hot Season Flair

Nasturtiums – Cool Season Flowers with Hot Season Flair


Nasturtiums are loved for their rich, saturated jewel-toned colors. They are fast and easy to grow and, in fact, do best with a little neglect. There are varieties for almost every gardening purpose: bushy plants for borders and edges, trailing plants for walls and containers and climbers to add dramatic height in a garden. The leaves and flowers are edible, with a peppery tang, and even the seed pods are used as a substitute for capers.

Latin Name:

TropaeolumCommon Name(s): Nasturtium

USDA Zone:

Annuals. Some varieties are perennial in USDA Zones 9 – 11.


Varies with variety. 
Bushy plants can get to about 12″ H – 18″ W. 
Trailing types grow about 3-4′ H. 
Climbers can get to 10’+ H.


Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Period:

Early summer through fall in cooler climates. 
Fall through spring in milder climates.


Nasturtiums plants grow very full, with spots of brightly colored blossoms poking out of masses of foliage. Leaves are rounded, like a water lily. The flowers are an open funnel shape with a curious little claw or spur on the underside. They are most often seen in rich shades of yellow, orange, , pink, red and mahogany but there are also varieties in subdued shades of butter yellow and cream. The ‘Alaska’ Series and the climbing ‘Jewel of Africa’ have variegated leaves.

Design Tips:

Nasturtiums will spill beautifully over walls and onto pavers, when used as edging plants. They also hold up very well in containers. Climbing varieties, such as ‘Canary Creeper’ will amble up and through shrubs. Bushy, ground hugging plants will fill in blooming gaps among complementary colored day lilies and roses. And you can use clusters to brighten up the vegetable garden.

Suggested Varieties:

  • Alaska Series – Bushy, dwarf plants with heavily variegated foliage and the blossoms are held above the foliage.
  • Jewel Series – Bushy, dwarf with double and semi-double blooms. A profuse bloomer, but flowers can tend to get lost under the foliage.
  • ‘Peach Melba’ – Busy, dwarf with semi-double buttery yellow flowers splashed with orangy-red centers. Good for containers.
  • ‘Canary Creeper’ (T. Peregrinum) – Perennial vines with yellow flowers that look like bird’s wings.

Cultural Notes:

Nasturtiums are usually started from seed, so you won’t often find them available as plants, at nurseries. However, the seed germinate quickly and the plants will be up and blooming in little time. Seeds can be sow directly in the garden, when the soil has warmed, or started indoors about 2-4 weeks earlier. Nasturtiums don’t especially like being transplanted, so starting indoor seedlings in peat pots will reduce transplant shock. Once planted, they tend to take care of themselves.Maintenance:

  • Nasturtiums like regular weekly waterings. They will survive some drought conditions, but flowering will diminish and the foliage can begin to look ratty. Deadheading is not usually necessary, unless a plant has been stressed and is holding on to spent blooms.
  •  They do, however, thrive in lean soil. Don’t feed nasturtium plants at all during the growing season. Fertilizer causes them to put out more foliage and less flowers.
  •  Pests & Diseases: Nasturtiums are very prone to aphids and are sometimes used as a trap crop in vegetable gardens. A strong blast of water is usually enough to get rid of the aphids. They can also be prone to flea beetles, slugs and the caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies. Gardening

Nasturtium (play /nəˈstɜr.ʃəm/) is a genus of five plant species in the family Brassicaceae (cabbage family), best known for the edible watercresses Nasturtium microphyllum (Rorippa microphylla) and Nasturtium officinale (R. nasturtium-aquaticum). Nasturtium was previously synonymised with Rorippa, but molecular evidence supports its maintenance as a distinct genus more closely related to Cardamine than to Rorippa sensu stricto (Al-Shehbaz & Price, 1998; Al-Shehbaz, Beilstein & Kellogg, 2006).

These plants are related to garden cress and mustard, noteworthy for a peppery, tangy (pungent) flavor. The name Nasturtium comes from the Latin nasus tortus, meaning “twisted nose”, in reference to the effect on the nasal passages of eating the plants. Nasturtium foliage is used as food by the caterpillars of certainLepidoptera, including Orthonama obstipata (The Gem).  (1)



February 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

More Nasturtium Recipes

    More Nasturtium Recipes   
Nasturtium and Potato Soup
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
25-30 nasturtium leaves, stems removed
4 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 1/4 cups milk
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
nasturtium blossoms for garnish

Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and nasturtium leaves and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and milk to the stock pot. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and discard. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve garnished with fresh nasturtium blossoms. Makes 6 servings

Nasturtium Butter

1 pound butter, softened
1 quart nasturtium blossoms
juice of 1 lemon

In a food processor or blender add the butter, nasturtiums and lemon juice and process until completely mixed. Use on seafood or vegetables. You can also add minced garlic to this if you wish for a variation.

Nasturtium Mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. finely minced garlic
2 tsp. coarsely chopped capers (or pickled nasturtiums)
1/3 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. chopped nasturtium leaves

Combine all ingredients well. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Use on seafood or on any sandwiches in place of regular mayonnaise.

Nasturtium Canapés

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoon finely chopped chives
3-5 tablespoons milk
2 loaves bread of your choice (see below)

Mix the cheese with the chives and 3 tablespoons of milk until smooth. If this is too thick add more of the milk. Using a serrated knife, trim your bread. You can use a baguette and slice thinly, leaving the crust. Or use a hearty wheat, honey wheat or even oatmeal bread and remove the crust then cut into small squares. Spread the cream cheese over your bread piece, not quite to the edges. At this point you can place on baking sheets and chill for up to 6 hours, or use immediately.

Pick your nasturtium blooms and gently rinse. Place one bloom on each piece of bread, or careful separate the petals and arrange in a design on top of the cream cheese. You can also add small herb leaves, such as thyme, oregano or chive stems to decorate. Serve your canapés on a pretty plate or platter lined with a paper doily. These are great for summer tea parties!

About the author:
Brenda Hyde is an avid gardener, freelance writer, mom and wife. She is owner and editor of Old Fashioned



[ nuh-STER-shuhm ]

All parts of this beautiful plant are eaten except the roots. Young leaves and stems add a peppery accent to salads and sandwiches, or be can used in dishes as a WATERCRESS substitute. The flower blossoms may be minced and used to flavor butter, cream cheese or vinegar, and the whole EDIBLE/FLOWERS are colorful and delicious in salads or as a garnish. Nasturtium seeds and immature flower buds can be pickled and used like capers.      
Nasturtium Risotto
from Emeril Live EM0218

Ingredients needed:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, green tops only
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked white pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup shredded or torn, well washed nasturtium flowers
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh chervil leaves
  • Sliced chives, for garnish

In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until the rice nearly completely absorbs all the liquid, about 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 cup of the hot stock, and cook, stirring constantly. Cook the risotto, adding more stock 1/2 cup at a time as it is absorbed, about 20 minutes total cooking time. Stir in the green onions after 15 minutes cooking time. Season the risotto with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper. The rice should be slightly al dente.

Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, nasturtiums, and chervil, and stir well to mix. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Pickled Nasturtium SeedsUse green nasturtium seeds, and in picking retain a short length of stem on each. Lay the seeds in cold salted water for two days (two tablespoons salt to one quart water), then place them in cold water for another day. Drain well and place the seeds in a glass jar, cover with vinegar heated to the boiling point, and close the jar tightly. In a few days the seeds will be ready to use. They are an excellent substitute for capers

October 31, 2008 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

How to Grow and Use Nasturtiums

   How to Grow and Use Nasturtiums

By Brenda HydeNasturtium plants were discovered in the jungles of Peru and Mexico in the 16th century. I can’t say enough about them–they are easy to grow, edible, cheerful and they are great companion plants as well! Nasturtiums help deter aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and other pests. Plant them with tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, and under fruit trees. They come in vibrant colors, or muted tones-variegated leaves or plain-and some are fairly dwarfed while others can be used as a vine, climbing five foot or more!

The first time I read about growing nasturtiums the writer did not seem overly enthused about them, except as a flower that would lure the aphids away from other plants. While this is true, I have come to love nasturtiums for so many other reasons. They are a bright and cheerful flower that can be grown in containers, the vegetable garden or flower beds.

Nasturtiums grow quickly from seed and one packet is plenty. I’ve found most packets have about 25 seeds. Space your seeds 8-12 inches apart in the ground, and a little closer in containers. In zones with freezing temperatures wait until after the frost, and in the mild southern climates they can even be planted in the fall for “winter” blooming. I’ve found the trick with nasturtiums is to keep them watered during the entire growing season. Especially when they are in containers. They love full sun, but they don’t do well in drought-like conditions. As long as you keep them watered and give them room for the air to circulate they are a prolific flower. The soil shouldn’t be too rich because you will get more leaves than flowers. The soil can even be slightly sandy and they will thrive. You can use barrel planters, window boxes or porch boxes too. Pick the blooms freely once they start coming, and you will have many more during the summer. I water mine oncein awhile with the water from our fish tank, to give them a little boost. If you do notice aphids you can spray them with a safe soap, alcohol and water mixture. Remember, as with herbs, you don’t want to use chemicals on your plants.

 Why do I consider nasturtiums an herb? Because the entire plant is edible! This peppery plant is perfect for salads, herb vinegars, appetizers and garnishes. Try mixing assorted greens such as romaine, radicchio, spinach and arugula with a handful of nasturtium blooms topped with your favorite dressing. Bake a batch of spice cupcakes, frostwith a cream cheese frosting and top with a single nasturtium bloom for a luncheon treat.

Nasturtium vinegar is wonderful as well. Add several blossoms and some leaves to a jar with a clove of garlic. Fill with vinegar and allow to sit for 4-5 weeks. I also like adding it to other herb vinegar combinations for a nice peppery addition and it colors the vinegar a lovely shade.

It’s important to keep your nasturtiums free from any exposure to chemicals. They do trail and spread, and so be aware of this if anything nearby is treated. I think of them as a flowering spicy green, and grow them as such. The leaves and blooms can be added to any salad, used as garnish, or chopped into pasta salads.

The seeds were ground during World War II as a replacement for pepper and you can still do this. Wait for the seeds to dry-they are larger than peppercorns-and grind them in a grinder. You can add this mixture with herbs to make a savory herb salt as well. Store in tightly closed bottles.

The fresh seeds can be pickled as a type of substitution for capers, which are fairly expensive. After the blossoms wilt and form seed pods, pick the greenish pods off the plant for this recipe:

1 quart white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 thinly sliced onion
1/2 teaspoon each allspice, mace and celery seed
3 peppercorns
nasturtium seed pods

Keep the solution refrigerated in a sealed bottle and drop the seed pods into it as they are ready. Keep them refrigerated and later use in place of capers.


About the author:
Brenda Hyde is an avid gardener, freelance writer, mom and wife. She is owner and editor of Old Fashioned

The Garden Path

October 31, 2008 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

Nasturtiums filled with guacamole

Recipe | Nasturtiums filled with guacamole

20 servings                                                

1 large avocado, preferably a Hass avocado

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 small ripe tomato, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely minced onion

1 jalapeno or serrano chili, seeded, finely minced

1 small clove garlic, finely minced


About 20 nasturtium blossoms

1 small jicama

Lime juice

• Peel avocado and remove pit. Mash avocado with a fork and add 2 teaspoons lime juice. Blend in tomato, onion, chili and garlic. Add salt to taste. Let stand, covered, while preparing the nasturtiums and jicama.

• Rinse nasturtiums carefully and pat them dry. Peel the jicama and slice it about ¼ inch thick. Cut slices into pieces about 2 by 2 inches, large enough to accommodate a nasturtium filled with guacamole. Squeeze a little lime juice over the jicama slices.

• The guacamole, flowers and jicama can be kept for a few hours in the refrigerator before assembling.

• When ready to assemble, hold flower at the base and use a teaspoon to fill with guacamole. Set each filled flower on a slice of jicama and arrange on a serving platter.

• Serve immediately.

— From “Flowers in the Kitchen” by Susan Belsinger (Interweave Press, 1991), available at the Richland County Public Library        


Calories, 28.7; protein, .5 grams; carbohydrates, 4.1 grams; total fat, 1.4 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; saturated fat, .2 grams; dietary fiber, 2.3 grams; sodium, 2.4 milligrams; sugar, .9 grams; vitamin A, 9.8 retinol equivalents; vitamin C, 8.7 milligrams; calcium, 6.3 milligrams; iron, .3 milligrams; alcohol, 0 grams.

NOTE: Information is meant only as a guide; the ESHA Research program does not compensate for crop-growing conditions, and some methods of cooking affect nutrient


October 31, 2008 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

The best-o pesto: Made with nasturtium leaves!

       The best-o pesto:             
                            Made with nasturtium leaves!

By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder for PlanTea, Inc. and
Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul

Everyone loves a good recipe, especially if it involves treating an ordinary ingredient in a whole new way. In a moment, I’ll share a recipe for a pesto sauce to die for. It’s made — not with basil — but with nasturtium leaves, which gives it a fun, zesty flavor.

Nasturtiums are easy to love because they’re easy to grow. And once they start blooming, they dazzle you with saucer-shaped leaves and brilliant flowers until the first frost zaps them in the fall.

So, for a garnish or salad ingredient that combines the flavor of watercress with the hues of the rainbow, try nasturtiums. They can grace special sandwiches, dips and spreads, and bowls of greens. And if you really want to liven things up, float a few blossoms in a punch bowl. 

Yessirree, nasturtiums are quite tasty–a trait that the Spanish conquistadors carried with them when they brought nasturtiums from South America to Spain in the 1500’s. The flower traveled to England by the1590’s, and its reputation as a culinary herb gradually spread across the continent.

Nasturtium leaves are also edible, and like the flowers, they have a peppery taste. And don’t forget the flower buds, which, when pickled, can stand in for imported capers. They’re called “poor man’s capers” and I just happen to have a recipe right here.

Now for the pesto recipe–a creation of award-winning French chef Joel Chenet, who moved from New York to Kodiak Island, Alaska (where I live) a few years ago in search of what he calls, “the good life.” Joel owns a pastry business called Mill Bay Coffee and Pastries.

Nasturtium Pesto
(The best-o pesto–a recipe to die for)
Into a food processor or blender, put the following ingredients:
4 cups packed nasturtium leaves
3 to 5 cloves of garlic
1 and 1/2 cups olive oil
2 drops Tabasco sauce
1 cup walnuts
Process the mixture until smooth.

To store the pesto, Joel suggests freezing it in ice cube trays so it’s ready whenever you need it. The pesto, he says, is excellent on top of grilled salmon, halibut, chicken or steak. Just set a pesto ice cube onto each serving and

voila, instant gourmet!    

Until we meet again, keep your hands in the dirt, and your dreams on a star. — Marion Owen

Nasturtium Pesto

October 31, 2008 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

Nasturtium Recipes


Nasturtium Recipes        

From Wen Zientek-Sico

Editor’s Note: Wen from Perfect sent us these wonderful Nasturtium recipes. She loves Nasturtiums and shared with us that they freeze fairly well, so she grows extra. Thanks Wen! Nasturtium Vinegar

This vinegar is always one of my most popular gifts.everyone loves how attractive the vinegar is with a wide range of different colored nasturtium blossoms included. The finished vinegar has a nice peppery bite and makes an excellent ingredient to use in salad dressings, sauces, and other dishes.

1 cup nasturtium leaves, flowers, and buds
1 pint champagne, white wine, or apple cider vinegar

Place the ingredients in a clean clear glass jar or bottle. Tightly seal. Let sit for at least 3 weeks before using. The nasturtium can remain in for decoration, but you should make sure the vinegar always covers the flowers or they will mold. Makes 1 pint vinegar.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Sitting Time: 3 weeks
Total Time: 3 weeks                            

Strawberry-Nasturtium Salad

This unique salad is filled with delightful flavor and color. The sweetness of the strawberries is perfectly balanced by the pepperiness of the nasturtiums and spark of the vinegar for a salad that everyone will love. This salad should not be made too far in advance to prevent wilting of the nasturtium blossoms.

1 pint sliced strawberries
1/3 cup nasturtium blossoms
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2-3 tablespoons sugar

Toss together all of the ingredients. Taste the mixture, and adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet the strawberries are.

Makes 4 servings.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Stuffed Nasturtiums

I love serving trays of these easy appetizers at parties. We grow a bunch of different types of nasturtiums and use them a lot, and they are exquisite served together. The wide range of colors makes for a great presentation, and the mixture of flavors is actually quite tasty as well.

3 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Salt to taste
30 large nasturtium blossoms

Mix together the cream cheese, heavy cream, chives, and salt until smooth. Spoon about a teaspoonful of the mixture into the center of each flower. Fold the petals up around the stuffing. Chill for up to an hour before serving. Makes 30 appetizers.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes                                              

Salmon-Cucumber Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves

Nasturtium leaves are very similar to watercress leaves, and have the same affinity for cucumber and salmon that watercress does. These little rolls are very easy to make and offer a beautiful presentation. Homemade salmon cream cheese can be made by mixing equal amounts of lox and softened cream cheese.

2 ounces softened salmon cream cheese
1/4 cup finely minced cucumber                             
Salt to taste
20 large nasturtium leaves
20 long stemmed nasturtium blossoms

Mix together the salmon cream cheese, cucumber, and salt until smooth. Spoon about a teaspoonful of the mixture into the center of each leaf. Roll the leaves up into a tight roll. Wrap the blossom stems around the leaf and tie tightly. Chill for up to an hour before serving.

 Nasturtium-Lemon Butter

This butter has a light lemon flavor lightly accented with peppery nasturtiums. It is one of my favorite herb butters for fish, chicken, broccoli, and asparagus. It is also excellent on white bread for just a hint of peppery citrus.

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped nasturtium blossoms

Mix all of the ingredients well until smooth and well blended. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Makes 3/4 cup flavored butter.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

About the author:
Wen Zientek-Sico is a freelance writer and recipe developer specializing in family friendly recipes. She also manages the
Perfect Entertaining website which offers great ideas for family friendly parties, dinners, recipes, menus, decorating ideas, and much more.

From a delightful website – be sure to visit!!!        

Seeds of Knowledge           

Seeds of Knowledge Home Page                    


October 31, 2008 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

When Can I Plant Nasturtiums?

    When Can I Plant Nasturtiums?   

The central rule of thumb is to plant after the last day of expected frost in your area.  Remember, nasturtiums are frost sensitive.  A few days too early can mean the difference between a beautiful flower garden….and a disaster. 

Planting Zone Map

Learn what planting zone you live in:

Knowing your planting zone can be very useful when your are planning your garden and flower bed areas.

When you order plants online or through a catalog it is very useful for you to know what will have the best success in your zone. 

Most plants are marked with a zone number. Use this map to know what plants will do best in your zone.


Using the Zone Map is really very simple. Find your geographic location on the map. Observe the corresponding color to that location. Look at the map key. That number designates the zone in which you live. 

You should select products that can survive in your zone. Simply read the item description and you will find a either a zone number or a range of zones. The lower of the the two zone numbers tells you the lowest recommended zone in which that plant can survive. Sometimes, an item will thrive outside that zone area. Remember this is only a guide.

For more information visit:

Indicator Plant Examples Listed by Zone

Plant Hardiness Zones, Details

From: Plant Power

NOTE: The dates below are for the Northern Hemisphere
(Adjust appropriately for Southern Hemisphere)
Zone 1
Average dates Last Frost = 1 Jun / 30 Jun
Average dates First Frost = 1 Jul / 31 Jul Note: Vulnerable to frost 365 days per year

Zone 2
Average dates Last Frost = 1 May / 31 May
Average dates First Frost = 1 Aug / 31 Aug

Zone 3
Average dates Last Frost = 1 May / 31 May
Average dates First Frost = 1 Sep / 30 Sep

Zone 4
Average dates Last Frost = 1 May / 30 May
Average dates First Frost = 1 Sep / 30 Sep

Zone 5
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Average dates First Frost = 30 Sep / 30 Oct

Zone 6
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Average dates First Frost = 30 Sep / 30 Oct

Average dates Last Frost= 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Average dates First Frost = 30 Sep / 30 Oct

Zone 8
Average dates Last Frost = 28 Feb / 30 Mar
Average dates First Frost = 30 Oct / 30 Nov

Zone 9
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Jan / 28 Feb
Average dates First Frost = 30 Nov / 30 Dec


Zone 10
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Jan or before
Average dates First Frost = 30 Nov / 30 Dec

Zone 11
Free of Frost throughout the year.

Best of the Home                   

October 31, 2008 at 1:45 pm Leave a comment

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