Nasturtium is a plant that vines out, sending up a bevy of bright green leaves and dazzling flowers often described as “bejeweled.” They are so attractive that many people plant them as additions to ornamental gardens, but there is so much more to the nasturtium than good looks.
There are varieties of nasturtium for just about whatever shape plant is needed: Some cascade, others climb, and still others are bushy. So, they work well for borders, as pot plants, or for vertical gardening up walls or fences. In warmer zones, they will grow as perennials, but throughout most of the US, they are planted as annuals.
More importantly, they are fantastic puzzle pieces to organic gardens with a huge collection of benefits that come with them. Whether it’s pest control, something to eat, or weed prevention, nasturtium finds a way to be useful.
1. Thwarting Squash Beetles
Unlike other insects, squash beetles are not great fans of nasturtium. It can be used to repel them.
2. Distracting Aphids
Aphids, common garden offenders, absolutely adore nasturtium, so many gardeners use it to tempt aphids away from tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies.
3. Enticing Cabbage Moths
Cabbage moths are particularly destructive to brassicas. They lay their eggs beneath the leaves, and the caterpillars feed on them after hatching. They will often choose nasturtium leaves instead.
4. Harvesting Salad Greens
The leaves of the nasturtium plant, which tends to be very leafy, are edible and deliciously peppery, á la watercress.
5. Eating Flowers
When grown for food, nasturtium is usually most revered for its flowers, which taste similar to the leaves but add some serious flash to salads and other dishes.
6. Pickling the Seeds
The seeds of the nasturtium plant are also edible, and when pickled, they are often referred to as the pauper’s caper.
7. Getting Healthy
Aside from offering many delicious options, nasturtium also delivers a good amount of nutrition, particularly vitamins A and C. They also have natural antibiotic qualities.
8. Taking It Easy
Nasturtium is one of those rare plants that actually prefers to be neglected and put into less than ideal situations. It prefers poor soil, will grow in partial shade, and doesn’t need to be watered so often. It’s also very easy to start from seed.
9. Blocking Weeds
A great groundcover, nasturtium will branch out and cover the ground, in turn eliminating the spaces where weeds would likely come up.
10. Protecting Soil
As a groundcover, nasturtium also helps to protect the soil by preventing erosion via wind and rain, as well as stopping the sun from drying it out.
Nasturtium is actually a. prolific self-sower, dropping seeds (the ones not harvested for pickling) that will germinate for the next round of the plant the following spring. It’s also not a bad idea to grab a few to keep for planting next season, just in case.
12. Filling Vertical Space
Vertical gardening is an efficient way to get more out of square footage. There is climbing nasturtium that’ll grow up a wall, fence or balcony.
13. Cascading Crops
Another way to garden vertically is with hanging pots, and nasturtium readily grows in containers. Some varieties specialize in cascading several feet over edges, so they work well in hanging pots or along raised garden borders.
14. Setting the Edge
Or, bushy nasturtiums make great garden edges, filling out the edges between crops, pathways or lawns. In doing so, they’ll offer an edible pest control and weed barrier option. That’s hard to beat.
15. Enjoying Nature’s Beauty
It’s hard to deny that nasturtium is beautiful in the garden. It can be appreciated there, and its flowers also work well as cut flowers in a vase.
Because nasturtium is annual, it will need to grow from seed every year, but it’s well worth it. And, it should be noted that they are not frost-tolerant, so they shouldn’t be planted out until the last frost date has passed. After that, they’ll provide blooms, benefits, and enjoyment into the autumn, when the first frost comes.
Lead Image Source: Pixabay