Nasturtium belongs to the Tropaeolaceae family and is native to South America, specifically in Peru. It is a perennial and climbing plant, which can reach a height of up to 11 inches. Its flowering season is from July to September while the seeds will become ripe from August to October. The flowers are large and trumpet-shaped, with some of the most common colors being red, orange, yellow, and creamy white. The leaves and flowers are both edible. Its leaves taste peppery, which will have a stronger flavor as it grows older. Its flowers also have a distinct spiciness, making it a colorful addition to a salad of greens. The unripe seeds, on the other hand, are good for pickling.
There are hundreds of varieties of nasturtiums, but take note of the fact that not all of them can be grown indoors. Among others, one of the best is nasturtium blue pepe, which is from Europe. They have small dark leaves and vivid red flowers. Another variety that is a perfect choice for an indoor plant is the nasturtium dwarf cherry rose. It is a small and compact plant, making it good to grow indoors.
Planting and Growing Conditions
The best way to plant nasturtium is through healthy seeds. Most people would start the planting indoors, and when the plant is healthy enough, they take it outdoors. The good news is that in the case of some varieties, you can just leave the plant indoors and it will still achieve full growth. When planting seeds, you can consider nicking or soaking the seeds in water, which is one of the easiest ways to speed up germination. This is going to make the coating softer, and hence, making it propagate quicker, especially with the right conditions in the external environment.
The right timing is one of the most important for a healthy nasturtium. With this, the best time to plant is four to six weeks before the last spring frost. Early spring is the best. When the seeds are ready, look for a pot or container where you will plant. Put soil in the pot and sprinkle seeds on the surface, making sure that you do not crowd them too much. You need to plant the seeds at an approximate depth of 10 inches and they must be at least 12 inches apart from each other.
When it comes to the choice of soil, poor quality is better. Having peat is ideal because it will retain moisture. Choose a potting mix that will allow fuller blooms and lessen the likelihood of having pests and diseases.
Once the pot is ready, choose the right location within your house. You should keep it in a window with bright light but no direct heat. As much as possible, the plant should receive at least 12 hours of sunlight in a day.
Given the right growing conditions, expect that the plant will be in full bloom and ready for harvest within 55 to 65 days.
Pests and Diseases
Bacteria and insects can bring a variety of problems for nasturtiums, most of which will cause aesthetic damages to the plant. It will be unattractive and inedible. Some of the most common plant problems are wilt and bacterial leaf-spot. When it comes to insects and pests, on the other hand, the most common causes of infestation include corn earworm, bean aphid, cabbage looper, flea beetle, and leaf miner.
Care and Maintenance
Here are some tips that will help maximize the success of growing nasturtiums for every novice in gardening:
- Water the plant as necessary. Regular watering is a must to keep it in its healthiest form, but be sure to avoid over-watering. Touch the surface of the soil and when it feels dry, this is the only time that you have to water the plant. Do not water from above the plant. Instead, target the lower part or the roots. Also, it is best to water in the morning so that there will be plenty of time for the soil to dry out.
- If you see dead flowers or leaves, cut them out immediately. Make sure to use clean scissors as it can be a carrier of pathogens and infections. Cut it the soonest possible time so that the problem will not spread to the healthy portions of the plant.
- During the growing season, trim the plant regularly. Indoor plants cannot grow as large as those that you have in the garden. With this, trimming is best in order to keep it more compact.
- Avoid using fertilizers. This is an indoor plant that does not need fertilizers to survive. Using fertilizer will only lead to an increase in foliage and decrease in flowers.
- If you are going to plant an indoor climbing variety of nasturtium, make sure to provide trellis to support the growth of the plant.
- When it is time to harvest, take out the first blooms first. Also, avoid harvesting too much from the plant as it will have a negative impact on its overall health. After all, it has a strong flavor and aroma, which is why you do not need a lot.
Growing nasturtium is an easy task, but this does not mean that success is guaranteed. While it will require minimal effort on your end, it is critical to emphasize the growing conditions and how to properly take care of the plant to ensure its healthy growth.