Add the easy-to-grow garden nasturtium to your vegetable or flower garden!
Dress up a ho-hum salad with a vibrant blossom or two just like some of the high-end restaurants. The first taste you experience will be sweetness and then a pleasant peppery flavor emerges. Not only can you eat the flowers but the leaves can also be tossed into your salad and the immature seed pods can be pickled and eaten similar to capers.
Garden nasturtium, known to botanists as Tropaeolum majus, is an annual that originated in the Andes of South America. Seed and plants are commonly found in garden centers, although a greater variety is available when purchased from seed catalogues or online. A variety of cultivars are available, from dwarf bushy types to climbing or trailing types. Perky blooms in vivid shades of orange, yellow, pink and red are often produced in abundance.
This annual is easy and fast to grow from seed. If transplanting from small potted plants, make sure not to disturb the delicate root system during the transplant process. Give them partial to full sun and regular watering, even though they are drought tolerant. They prefer a lighter, sandy, well-drained soil and don’t perform as well in dense, rich soils. Be careful with the fertilizer as too much nitrogen will produce lots of green foliage but few blooms.
[warning]Aphids like to feast on the succulent flowers and foliage as well, so be diligent in scouting for this pest. Control is usually adequate by dislodging them with a spray of water or insecticidal soap. Insecticidal soap will cause the aphid to try out and dessicate. Be careful to spray the undersides of the leaves as well for complete control. Make sure to apply products that are safe for food crops and follow all label instructions.[/warning]
In the Florida panhandle, garden nasturtium can be a part of the garden year-round. However, they generally decline and stop flowering with the onset of the full brunt of the summer heat unless a bit of afternoon shade is available. When planted late in the fall, they are susceptible to frost damage but often will recover.
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