Tropaeolum majus: Nasturtium

Family: Tropaeolaceae
Common name: Nasturtium, Common Nasturtium, Garden nasturtium, Indian cress, Monk’s cress, Mexican Cress, Tall Nasturtium, Nose-Tweaker, Nose-Twister, Peruvian Cress

Nasturtium is an annual plant that has beautiful leaves and flowers that can cover your garden in a riot of colors. They have a striking appearance and are garden favorites all over the world. The plants can grow to a height of 1-1.8 meters, with a trailing or climbing growth habit.

The plant features round, shield-shaped leaves that can measure 10-15 cm in diameter. The leaves are known for their resemblance to lily pads, in shape and texture with water droplets rolling right off the leaves keeping them dry. They are bright green on top and pale green below, providing a stark contrast to the vibrant flowers that Nasturtium is known for.

Nasturtium’s flowers are a highlight of this plant. They can reach diameters of 2-6 cm, with colors ranging from deep oranges and reds to bright yellows. The flowers consist of five petals, often adorned with a subtle ruffle. These blooms create a visual spectacle and cluster atop the plant throughout the summer season.

While Nasturtium produces seed pods after flowering, the main focus of interest is on the seeds themselves. These seeds are edible and are often harvested for culinary use due to their peppery flavor. The round pods, sometimes referred to as “whistles,” contain the seeds within and contribute to the plant’s unique charm.

Nasturtium plants need good sunlight for at lease 6 hours a day. They can tolerate light shade, but it can significantly affect the flowering. Opt for well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, as these plants prefers soil that doesn’t retain excessive moisture. Regular watering and fertilization can help maintain a healthy plant that flowers well.

These plants can be trained to grow on trellises or supporting structures. They can also be grown in hanging pots and baskets making them a wonderful addition to any part of your garden.

Some common cultivars are Cherry Rose Jewel, Empress of India, Jewel hybrids, Alaska hybrids, Moonlight, Jewel of Africa and so on, all of them bright and happy plants that can fill your gardens with color, as well as pollinating insects.

The leaves and flowers of Nasturtium are believed to possess natural antibacterial properties, making them useful in certain home remedies. All part of the plant other than the roots are edible, the leaves and flowers are used in salads and for decorating dishes. Leaves have a slight peppery taste making them good additions to stir-fries, and meat dishes.

Propagation is through seeds.