Nasturtium, (tropaeolum majus), also called indian cress, annual plant of the household tropaeolaceae, cultivated as an ornamental for its attractive leaves and flowers. The plant is native to the andes mountains of south america and is thought about an intrusive types in a couple of locations outside its native range. The peppery-tasting leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in salads or as a floral garnish. The young flower buds and fruit are in some cases used as seasoning. Unassociated, the genus nasturtium consists of aquatic herbs of the household brassicaceae.

Physical description

The plant can be compact or routing in kind and can be rather climbing up with assistance. The fantastic yellow, orange, or red flowers are funnel-shaped and have a long spur that contains sweet nectar. The big green leaves are almost circular with smooth or wavy margins and are peltate, implying that the petiole (leaf stalk) is attached near the centre of the lower leaf surface area. Each of the 3 sectors of the trilobed fruit contains a single seed. [1]

Latin name

Tropaeolum majus.



Likewise referred to as

Indian cress, monks cress.

Kind of plant

Annuals herbs.

Bloom season

May – june.


Fall spring.


Max height max height: 2′ max spread max spread: 3′ [2]


Colorful, edible, butterfly-like nasturtium blossoms have delighted gardeners and cooks alike for centuries. At different times in their history, they have actually been thought about a vegetable, an herb, a flower, and even a fruit! The name nasturtium originates from the latin words for nose (nas), and tortum (twist), describing a persons’ response upon tasting the spicy, bittersweet leaves. Renaissance botanists named it after watercress, (nasturtium officinale in latin) which tastes similar.

The garden nasturtiums we grow today descend primarily from 2 types native to peru. The first, gave europe by spanish conquistadors in the late 15th to early 16th century, was tropaeolum minus, a semi-trailing vine bearing stimulated, lightly aromatic orange-yellow flowers with dark red spots on the petals and shield-shaped leaves. According to jesuit missionaries, the incas utilized nasturtiums as a salad vegetable and as a medical herb. In the late 17th century, a dutch botanist presented the taller, more vigorous tropaeolum majus, a tracking vine with darker orange flowers and more rounded leaves. Since spanish and dutch herbalists shared seeds with their counterparts, the pretty, aromatic and easy-to-grow plants quickly became extensive throughout around europe and britain.

Nasturtiums were typically known in europe as indian cress or a translation of “capucine cress”, in reference to the flower shape, which looks like capucine monks’ hooded bathrobes. Leaves of both species were eaten in salads; unripe seeds and flower buds were marinaded and served as a substitute for capers. (we understand now that these marinaded flower buds are high in oxalic acid and for that reason should not be consumed in big quantities.).

Their ornamental value was also valued: flowers were used in nosegays, and planted to decorate trellises or cascade down stone walls. They ended up being specifically popular after being shown in the palace flowerbeds of french king louis xiv.

Although it is sometimes reported that nasturtiums were presented to the us by the philadelphia seedsman bernard mcmahon in 1806, they were recorded here as early as 1759. Thomas jefferson planted them in his vegetable garden at monticello from a minimum of 1774 onward. Interestingly, in one entry in his garden book, he categorized it as a fruit among others such as the tomato, suggesting that he ate the pickled seeds. Most nasturtiums grown at this time were the high, routing orange variety.over the course of the 19th century, breeders produced smaller sized, more compact types that mounded neatly into containers or formed a colorful, less sprawling edge to flower beds. Cultivars with cream and green variegated foliage appeared, as well as the vermilion-flowered empress of india, with its strikingly contrasting blue-green leaves. These developments paralleled the gradual shift in the perception of nasturtiums from edible and herbal garden essentials to seeing them as decorative landscape plants. Monet let large swaths babble along a walk at giverny. The flowers and long-lasting leaves were popular in victorian arrangements and table arrangements. Nasturtiums were still consumed, however, and were known to assist prevent scurvy, because the leaves are abundant in vitamin c.

Later 20th century contributions to nasturtium breeding consist of the intro of ranges with spurless, upward-facing blossoms and flowers that float higher above the leaves, best for bed linen or containers. A complete spectrum of flower colors is now offered, consisting of single colors– useful for landscape designs: pale yellow, golden, orange, brick-red, cherry pink, salmon, crimson, and dark mahogany. The recent interest in edible flowers, herbs, decorative cooking area gardens and treasure flowers has actually helped keep a full selection of old and brand-new cultivars readily available for each possible usage. [3]

20 uses for nasturtiums

I’m so thrilled with this plant. I just have to share 20 usages for nasturtiums that i have actually found out about these decorative ‘quiet achievers.’ if you only have restricted area, pick carefully and pick plants that offer you several functions.

1. Nasturtiums are edible

Not only do they look great, however they taste excellent too– in fact, you can eat the whole plant! The leaves have a slightly warm peppery flavour comparable to watercress and rocket. The flowers are milder with sweet nectar. The seeds, though hot and fragrant, are edible too. (more about that later on!) A word of caution, however, never ever eat any flower or plant that has actually been treated with pesticides or other chemicals! Start with natural seeds.

2. Nasturtiums are rich in nutrients

The leaves are high in vitamin c (supports a strong body immune system), iron and other minerals and the flowers abound in vitamins b1, b2, b3 and c and likewise consist of manganese, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

3. Nasturtiums are insect pest repellents

These herbs work in several methods to deter insects. Nasturtiums mask the scent of plants that are commonly targeted by insects and camouflage the leaves of food plants that insects are searching for. The highly scented leaves actively drive away particular insects and attract others as a trap crop. They pack a genuine punch by producing a mustard oil that some pests are drawn in to. You can plant them as a sacrificial buddy crop to attract cabbage white butterflies so they lay their eggs on your nasturtiums and leave your brassicas like broccoli, cabbage and kale alone!

4. Medicinal health advantages

Lots of scientific studies * have actually been done to find the recovery homes of this plant. The leaves have actually been discovered to contain powerful antibiotic, antimicrobial, antioxidant and basic tonic actions, and can aid food digestion. Studies reveal the special substances in nasturtiums to be effective versus some microbes that are resistant to common prescription antibiotics; may help prevent and ease coughs, colds and flu and eating 3 seeds daily assists develop resistance to infections, colds and measles. One leaf consumed per hour at the beginning of an aching throat can considerably decrease the intensity of the infection. It is likewise utilized as an expectorant, anti-fungal and antiseptic.

5. Buddy plants

According to the beneficial book ‘permaculture plants’ nasturtiums likewise make excellent companion plants to turnips, radishes, cucumbers and zucchini.

6. Nasturtium flowers attract beneficial insects

The sweet nectar in the flower brings in valuable pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, hoverflies (that eat bugs) and nectar-eating birds.

7. Terrific value space fillers for frugal garden enthusiasts

A healthy plant can cover 3 square metres so you conserve stacks by not needing to buy great deals of other plants to cover the very same area.

8. Cheerful cut flowers

Select them and appear a vase on your table or kitchen area bench– with their attractive foliage they make a quite edible arrangement. They keep well in water but even better, consume them or utilize as a garnish with each meal and then replenish from your garden! The bright green rounded leaves are just as appealing as the flowers.

9. Nasturtiums are long blooming

These annual respected bloomers provide fantastic worth flowering for extended durations the majority of the year up until frost.

10. Dead simple to grow

This carefree, simple herb grows on disregard … so lazy garden enthusiasts remember! They are not fussy about soil, sun or shade and are ideal for novice gardeners.

11. Loads of free seeds

You get a huge variety of brand-new nasturtium plants from just one! When the flower dies off, a seed head types. Every flower produces 2-3 new pale green seeds. If you do not choose and conserve these, they will willingly drop to the ground and self-sow. You can use the seeds in lots of ways. Dry and grind to make your own pepper, eat raw in salads or as a snack, or pickle the green seeds to preserve them and utilize as a caper replacement.

12. Colourful blooms

Nasturtiums have to be one of the most pleasant flowers to have in your garden. Some ranges have actually variegated leaves so you can delight in stripey white and green colours too.

13. Living mulch/ground cover

Because of the excessive leaf development, nasturtiums make a terrific mulch if you slice and drop it around your plants. Or grow nasturtiums as a ground cover to shade your soil and reduce moisture loss. Nasturtiums will break down and disintegrate at the end of their life, including nutrients to your soil. Nasturtiums are especially helpful under fruit or feature trees where they can be grown as a living carpet of mulch producing lots of leaves where soil is well fertilised. To the left, we have used them as a filler around a big leopard tree just outside the kitchen– close for collecting and quite colour to look out on.

14. Quick flowers and living artwork

Nasturtium plants grow rapidly and are an excellent option for covering a horizontal or vertical location in a short area of time. Climbing up varieties are perfect for trellises and vertical structures and compact cultivars are perfect for pots and small areas.

15. Nasturtiums as a flavour improver

This herb is an excellent companion for lots of plants, improving their growth and flavour.

16. Excellent garnish

Both nasturtium leaves and flowers make quite garnishes on any plate. You can marinade the raw green seeds and use as capers too.

17. Extract weeds

Once developed, the thick cover of nasturtium leaves and flowers will offer sufficient shade to overcome most weed competition.

18. Poultry drug store

Discerning chooks will benefit from the highly antibacterial and medicinal properties in the leaves. Offered an opportunity your chickens will treat on the seeds and self-medicate. This herb is a vermifuge (de-wormer) so is good to use for worming your chickens. Nasturtiums are likewise terrific for chooks with nervous disorders and depression. Yes– they do have feelings! The strong fragrance likewise repels bothersome insect pests. Toss them in with your chicken’s regular feed or grow up their cage (planted on the outside to prevent them digging up the roots).

19. Aromatic flowers

The light spicy-sweet scent provides a delicate fragrance, specifically planted near a seating area. Pop a couple of in a vase inside your home to enjoy their fragrance wafting in the space.

20. Make stunning pressed flowers

This is a whole other subject. If you are crafty or have kids, making your own wrapping paper, cards and other craft is a great way to preserve the beauty of these charming flowers and leaves. [4]

How to plant, grow, and look after nasturtiums

The nasturtium is a joyful and easy-to-grow flower! Their strong flowers and edible leaves, flowers, and seedpods make them a particularly fun flower for kids to plant and a preferred buddy plant in the garden. Here’s how to grow your own nasturtiums!

About nasturtiums

These beautiful plants, with their unique greenery and vibrant flowers, grow well in containers or as ground cover around veggie gardens. In fact, they are frequently utilized as a trap crop in companion planting, drawing aphids and other garden pests away from the better veggies.

Nasturtium is a good friend of: bean, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, kale, melon, pumpkin, and radish.

Insects aren’t the only thing nasturtiums draw in, however. They are likewise a favorite of pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and their lovely fragrance makes them a good option for cut-flower gardens, too.

Nasturtiums are grown as yearly plants in most areas, though they may perennialize in frost-free zones.

Types of nasturtiums

There are numerous varieties of nasturtiums, which are divided into two main types: routing or climbing up types (tropaeolum majus) and bush types (t. Minus). As their names recommend, the primary distinction between them is their growth routine, with routing nasturtiums forming long vines and bush nasturtiums staying more compact. (bush types are also often called “dwarf” nasturtiums.).

Tracking nasturtiums are a terrific option for growing in a flowerpot or hanging basket, as their vines will curtain and climb up perfectly. Bush nasturtiums are a better choice for smaller gardens where space is restricted.

A crucial feature of all nasturtiums is their edibility! Nasturtiums’ leaves, flowers, and seedpods have a peppery, nearly mustard-like taste, that makes them charming as a garnish in salads. The seedpods may also be marinaded and used like capers.


When to plant nasturtiums

Nasturtium seeds may be planted directly in the garden (advised) or started inside your home. Their fragile roots are sensitive to transplanting, so we prefer to direct-sow them.

Inside: begin seeds 2 to 4 weeks before your last spring frost date.

Outdoors: plant seeds 1 to 2 weeks after your last spring frost date. Soil temperatures ought to preferably be between 55 ° and 65 ° f( 12 ° and 18 ° c). Strategy to protect young seedlings from late frosts.

Selecting and preparing a planting site

Nasturtiums do well in poorer soils and do not usually require extra fertilizer (unless your soil is extremely poor). Excessive nitrogen will encourage more foliage than flowers.

Soil ought to be well-draining.

Plant nasturtiums in full sun (6– 8 hours of sunshine) for the best results. They will grow in partial shade (3– 6 hours of sunshine), however won’t flower too.

Be conscious of the growing habit of the kind of nasturtium you’re growing. Plan to provide assistances for trailing types.

How to plant nasturtiums

Sow the seeds about half an inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart in the garden.

Plants need to appear in 7 to 10 days.


How to take care of nasturtiums

Water routinely throughout the growing season, however beware not to overwater your plants. Nasturtiums are rather drought tolerant, however still choose to grow in wet soil. Plus, water-stressed plants will have substandard flowers and taste.

Cutting off the faded/dead flowers will extend blooming.

If you’re growing nasturtiums in containers, they might need to be trimmed occasionally over the growing season. This motivates the plants to produce brand-new foliage.

In summer season, nasturtiums may stop blooming if they end up being heat-stressed. Their flavor may become more extreme, too. Keeping them adequately watered can assist to reduce the impacts of severe temperature levels.

Nasturtiums are often used as a trap crop, drawing in bugs like aphids away from susceptible vegetables. Image by catherine boeckmann.

Advised varieties

‘ alaska variegated’ has actually variegated foliage and a mix of flower colors.

‘ salmon child’, to include a quite salmon-pink color to your garden.

‘ variegatus’, which is a routing type with red or orange flowers.

‘ peach melba’ has velvety yellow flowers with orange-red centers.


How to collect nasturtiums

Leaves and flowers can be collected at any time.

Seedpods should be harvested before seeds have actually had a chance to mature and harden.

Snip off leaves, flowers, and seedpods with scissors to avoid damaging the plant.

If you allow the seedpods to mature, you can conserve the nasturtium’s chick-pea– size seeds and replant them in the spring! Let the seeds dry out on the vine; they’ll fall off. Collect them, reject the soil, dry them, and store them in a paper envelope in a cool and dark location. [5]


Nasturtiums can be utilized likewise to microgreens and other edible flowers– such as in salads, to make pesto, on top of pizzas and sandwiches, and even to decorate cakes.

In addition, this plant is used to brew herbal tea that is both hydrating and an excellent source of numerous nutrients.

Nasturtium seeds (which grow in pods) are also combined with vinegar and spices to make a tangy dressing and garnish, which has a comparable taste as capers and can be utilized in the same ways.

One species, mashua t. Tuberosum, produces an edible underground root that is a major crop in certain parts of the andes.

What does nasturtium taste like? It has a “mildly peppery flavor” that is rather similar to mustard, although less spicy.

Its taste is likewise comparable to watercress, so you can basically substitute one for the other in most recipes.

To add both a pop of color and a dose of nutrients to your meals, attempt these recipes using nasturtium:.

  1. Make a nasturtium pesto using the flowers plus garlic, oil, lemon juice, pine nuts and salt all combined in a food mill.
  2. Explore using several nasturtium leaves on sandwiches as a substitute for mustard.
  3. Use the leaves in place of watercress in salads and as a colorful garnish.
  4. Try them in stir-fries with older veggies or to leading cold soups.
  5. Things nasturtium entrusts cheese, garlic and herbs.
  6. Include a few leaves to fresh-pressed green juices or healthy smoothies (as long as you do not find the taste to be overwhelming). [6]

Adverse effects

Nasturtium might be safe for adults when used directly to the skin in mix with other natural medicines. It can cause skin irritation, specifically if used for a long time.

There isn’t adequate info to understand if nasturtium is safe when taken by mouth. It can trigger stomach upset, kidney damage, and other side impacts. [7]

Dosages and administration

It is recommended to take in no more than 30 g of fresh herb daily for medical functions.

As the proper dosage of nasturtium might depend on a number of elements such as the age, health, and condition, it is a great idea to consult a trained herbalist with knowledge of the herb’s uses in herbal medicine prior to use. [8]

Special precautions and cautions

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: there isn’t enough reputable details to understand if nasturtium is safe to utilize when pregnant or breast-feeding. Remain on the safe side and prevent usage.

Children: nasturtium is likely hazardous for children when taken by mouth. There isn’t enough dependable details to know if nasturtium is safe for kids when applied to the skin.

Stomach or intestinal ulcers: don’t take nasturtium if you have stomach or intestinal ulcers. It may make ulcers worse.

Kidney illness: do not take nasturtium if you have kidney disease. It might make kidney disease even worse. [9]
Although some parts of the nasturtium flower are edible and packed with health advantages, the seeds are thought about hazardous and should not be taken in. What’s more, there are also some safety measures concerning consuming large quantities of nasturtium. But the bright side is this flower is normally thought about safe for family pets. [10]


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