10 Reasons to Grow Nasturtiums for Food and Garden Goodness

Looking for an easy flower to add to your garden? Grow nasturtiums! They’re pretty, hardy, and edible!

Check out even more edible flowers here.

salmon colored nasturtium flowers on a plant

Nasturtium flowers in the garden

When it comes to a hard-working flower, nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) are right up there at the top of the list. They’re pretty, incredibly easy to grow, and can be propagated from readily available seed.

You might even find a friend who can share seeds with you! 

The growth habit of this pretty plant varies by variety. They can climb trellises, cascade out of pots, or remain small and bushy.

Check out these 10 reasons you might want to grow nasturtiums in your garden this year. 

Nasturtiums are edible

The leaves, flowers, and seeds of nasturtium plants are all edible and have a somewhat peppery flavor. Add flowers to a salad, stuff nasturtium leaves much as you would make dolmades, and try fermenting the seeds to make “poor man’s capers.” 

The leaves can also be eaten raw in salad or rolled up in your lunchtime wrap for a little spicy flavor.

Nasturtiums are an easy-to-grow flower

These annual flowers live for a single growing season, dying back when cold weather hits. Nasturtiums, though, self-sow with a frenzy! Seeds that drop off will lay dormant during the winter months and sprout — without you doing a single thing! — come springtime. 

various colors of nasturtium flower: yellow, orange, red

Nasturtium flowers come in a rainbow of colors

From the common orange to yellow, pink, cream, and burgundy, you can choose a single color or grow them all. They’re often available sold in seed packets as a mix. Some specialty nurseries carry unusual options.

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They attract pollinators

Bees love the colorful blossoms and happily buzz from blossom to blossom. Planting these beauties in or near your vegetable garden will attract bees and improve pollination for your garden crops. [More on attracting pollinators.]

They are an excellent summertime ground cover

Since they grow so quickly, nasturtiums make excellent filler between plants. Letting them spread across the ground helps shade the soil from intense heat. 

A fast-growing ground cover like this helps hold weeds down, too.

garden with taro, flowersNasturtiums are carefree

Plant seeds about an inch deep in a sunny spot, keep them watered, and they’ll simply thrive. They’re not particular about the type of soil they grow in (probably why you may seed wild nasturtiums blooming along the roadside!). They don’t need fertilizer; in fact, they’ll flower better without too much fertilizer.

burgundy nasturtium flowers

Nasturtiums can be a trap crop

Aphids love nasturtiums. Planting nasturtiums some distance from the garden can draw pests away from the crops you’re hoping to harvest. 

They can also act as a trap crop within your garden. Inspect the plants regularly to spot an infestation before it becomes a problem for vegetable plants.

nasturtium seeds on a plant

Saving seeds is easy

As the flowers wither and die, seeds will appear on the stem. These green seeds come as single, double, or triple clusters. They’ll drop off on their own and often start growing right where they fall. 

To save nasturtium seeds, pull the seeds from the plant and allow to dry. Store in an envelope in the fridge until next season.

yellow nasturtium flowers

Bunnies love them

For those of us who raise rabbits, nasturtiums are a delicious — and locally grown — addition to their diet.

There’s a spot in your garden that’s perfect for nasturtiums

Plant a vining or climbing variety to clamber up a trellis to give a tall pop of color or opt for a small, mounding variety to plant in your container garden

red and yellow flowers growing against a black rock wall

How to grow nasturtiums

They’re so easy to grow! Start by choosing the variety you have a space for. Renee’s Garden has an interesting collection including climbers, some that mound, and others that are good for hanging baskets. 

You can soak seeds overnight to give them a jumpstart, but it’s not entirely necessary. Set the seeds about an inch deep in a sunny location, pat soil over the top, and water in. Maintain moisture by sprinkling gently until seedlings emerge in about 10-14 days. 

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

4 comments… add one
  • Ro Dec 3, 2021 @ 1:00

    I first built a trellis and then planted this prolific plant. It grew and bloom beautifully. I marinated some capers and they came out delicious.

    • AttainableSustainable Dec 7, 2021 @ 12:21

      Success! Love that 🙂

  • Marion c Lewis May 8, 2021 @ 17:09

    my nasturtiums always get black gnat type flies/aphids all over them just about the time they are most beautiful??? any ideas to help?

    • Jaclyn May 14, 2021 @ 3:34

      That’s actually a reason why some people grow them! Those bugs love the nasturtium and will eat at them instead of tomatoes and other veggies.

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