Nasturtium is an easy-to-grow gorgeous outdoor flower which can be planted either in a pot or directly in the garden. It has an attractive fragrance, enjoys warm weather and is an annual plant which can make your blooming paradise even prettier!
In addition to that, it is an edible flower which is often used in unconventional gourmet recipes. This short guide can help you grow your own healthy and pretty nasturtiums and enjoy them!
Nasturtium Name and Meaning
Nasturtium is also known as Tropaeolum and nasturtian. The name of this flower has Latin origin and, directly translated, means ‘convulsed nose’.
This is believed to be associated with the facial gesture people make when they are eating the flowers and the leaves of the plant, as it has a spicy, pepper-like taste, which is also similar to mustard (1).
The unique taste of the flower and its complete lack of poisonous ingredients have made it very popular in culinary and gourmet world. Nasturtium flowers and leaves are used as salad ingredients, beautiful garnish or as an addition to a tasty cocktail.
History, Evolution and Use
Initially, nasturtium is primarily found in South America (mainly in Bolivia and Columbia) and brought to Europe in 1864 by Spanish trading ships.
It has been perceived as a symbol of power, which is probably one of the reasons why it has quickly become one of the popular flowers of royal families and gardens. Nowadays, it is most commonly grown in Brazil, Columbia, and Peru (5).
During Victorian ages, nasturtium has been used as a way to express emotions and feelings through bouquets of different coloured flowers.
For example, red nasturtium flowers were interpreted as the feeling of passion and love and have been preferred by men who want to flirt with their chosen girl, while yellow nasturtium bouquets have been a symbol of happiness and joy and have been a popular gift between friends and family members (5).
Nowadays, nasturtium is widely used as a garden flower, herb for cooking and making drinks and as a medicine for a variety of different health issues. It’s one of many popular flowers people grow in their gardens.
Nasturtium is commonly used for treating pain and cramps, cold, cough, throat ache, respiratory issues, as a substitute for anti-biotic and as a source of anti-oxidants for cleaning human organism from harmful bacteria (2).
It is also very rich in Vitamin C (approximately 130 mg per 100 g) which is also a reason to be used in a variety of food regimes, immune system boosting programs and popular diets (6).
Description, Varieties, and Blooming
The flower blossoms come in four main colours, including red, pink, orange and yellow, orange being the most popular. It should be noted that the variety of the palette of each different color is also rich.
In general, most of the nasturtiums are having up to five petals, which makes the bushy plant perfect for garden backgrounds with its rich greeny mass and strong colourful blossoms (3).
The blooming period varies across different regions but is generally limited to summer months or the hottest in the year round. It blooms for 2 to 3 months if being properly cared for. The size of the flowers is between 2.5 and 6 cm in diameter (3).
Planting, Growing and Caring
Nasturtiums are not appropriate for indoor growing as they need an airy environment and a lot of sun.
If you want to have a nasturtium blooming in early summer, you have to plant the seeds in the early spring period. Make sure you plant and grow them on a very sunny place as they need heavy sunlight to bloom more and longer.
Nasturtiums also like well-drained and moist soil. If you plant them directly in the garden, nasturtiums do not need fertilizers as their roots do not require rich-ingredients soil (8).
Seeds should be planted close to the surface (approximately 1.5 to 2 cm deep) and on approximately 25 to 30 cm distance from each other. One and a half weeks after planting, the flowers are likely to grow and appear above ground (8).
Care for nasturtiums differs depending on whether they are grown in a garden or a pot. If you have nasturtiums planted directly in the garden, you can water them regularly during the growing season to ensure that roots have developed well and the plants are healthy.
If you have nasturtiums in a pot, you have to water them when the soil gets drier in order to prevent rotten of the roots (or make sure the pot has good draining). In order to support growth and mitigate the limitations of planting the flower in a pot, it is a good idea to trim it while it grows before the blooming season.
Regardless of whether nasturtiums are planted directly in the garden or in a pot, removing the dead flowers is likely to increase their blooming period (7).
Keep in mind that, when being taken care well, nasturtium flowers grow very fast and are climbing and thus, they might invade other flowers in your garden.
At the end of the blooming season, you can collect the seeds of the nasturtium, clean them (without water), let them dry and then store them in a cool, dark and dry place, preferably in a paper pack (9).
Did you know?
Nasturtium has been one of the favourite flowers of Thomas Jefferson, who had it in his garden in all of its color variations.
Nowadays, nasturtium is one of the favourite garnish ingredients of Gordon Ramsay for some of his most popular dishes like Steak Tartare and Beef brisket.
Nasturtium is also used in experiments and anticancer activity research as it is believed it contains anticancer compounds (4).
(1) Garzon, G., Wrolstad, R. (2009) Major Anthocyanins and Antioxidant Activity of Nasturtium Flowers (Tropaeolum Majus). Food Chemistry. Vol. 114 (1), pp. 44-49. Source
(2) Mitra, A. (2019) Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) – an Annual Herb Has Medicinal Property to Cure Throat Sore and it Has Antivirus Property. Journal of Agricultural Science. Vol. 3 (1), pp. 1-3. Source
(3) Munir, M., Alhajhoj, M., Khakwani, A., Baloch, J. (2015) Flowering Time Response of Nasturtium (T\ropaeolum Majus L) Cultivar. Songklanakarin Science of Science and Technology. Vol. 37 (3), pp. 247-254. Source
(4) Yalcinkaya, E., Ozguc, S., Torer, Y., Zeybek, U. (2015) The Importance of the Medicinal Plant Nasturtium Officinale L. In the Anticancer Activity Research. Journal of Scientific Perspectives. Vol. 3 (2), pp. 159-164.
(5) Eyster, W., Burpee, D. (1936) Inheritance of Doubleness in the Flowers of the Nasturtium. Journal of Heredity. Vol. 27 (2), pp. 51-60.
(6) Sutherland, M. (1944) Vitamin C in Plants: “Nasturtium”. [online] source.
(7) Melo, E., Santos, O. (2011) Growth and Production of Nasturtium Flowers in Three Hydroponic Solutions. Horticultura Brasiliera. Vol. 29 (4).
(8) Albermani, S., Albermani, A., Altamene, H. (2017) Systematic Study of the Genus Nasturtium R. Br (Brassicaceae) in Iraq. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Vol. 10 (1), pp. 352-358.
(9) Cruz, R., Vieira, M., Silva, C. (2010) Effect of Heat and Thermosonication Treatments on Watercress (Nasturtium Officinale) Vitamin C Degradation Kinetics. [online] source
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