Nasturtium growing tips? What's the secret?

flowersandthings(MidAtlantic 6/7)May 5, 2005

Hi I always fail abysmally at nasturtiums and I'm not sure why.... since most other plants thrive.... maybe they just don't like the Jersey shore! :) But I'd like to try them again for colors that I crave (like true salmon) and the leaves are pretty tasty (in small quantities in salads).... Help! what do I do to make "nice" nastutiums mine usually just sit there and don't get much bigger or hardly flower.... or simply wither and die!

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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

The Jersey shore should be ideal for nasturtiums.
Are you paying attention to the cultivar you buy? Bush vs vining?
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 10:59PM
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ultraultraboomerang(z8b LA)

I've had some trouble with these guys too, but this year mine seem to be happy. Here on the Gulf Coast they poop out in the summer because of the heat, but I'm not sure if that's an issue for you up there. I find they do best with morning sun and no fertilizer. I use Miracle Gro potting mix initially but leave them alone once they're established - if you fertilize you'll get lots of leaves but no flowers, and the leaves won't be as tasty.

I've only grown the bush types, and if they don't get enough sun I get leggy, tangly, stemmy plants with tiny leaves. Too much/too hot sun and they get yellow and crispy. This year mine are on my western exposure porch and they're bushy and happy.

I hope you can get these going, they're the perfect little plant! The round leaves are adorable, the flowers are gorgeous and if you get them at the right time of day they smell heavenly, sweet but not cloying. Plus the whole thing is edible and they seem to love poor growing conditions. If you're treating them with as much love as your other plants that are thriving, chances are you're just plain being too nice to them!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 11:46PM
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I have Nasturtiums growing everywhere and not on purpose. They are pretty easy. They like to be left alone. Are you planting seeds or are you buying a plant?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 12:55AM
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    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 12:57AM
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flowersandthings(MidAtlantic 6/7)

I've grown both.... (from seed and plants) and neither seems to work well.... I didn't know there was a difference (except lenghth) between "bush" and vining..... is there a "culture" difference? Thanks :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 2:42AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I'd like to know,too, if there is a cultural difference between the vining and bush nasturtium.
like someone else has said, nasturtiums fade a bit in the heat. You have it hot at the shore or cool from ocean breeze?
Maybe add some soil amendments like alfalfa meal, kelp meal and a lot of compost?
That's what I do here in my sandy/gravel yard.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 7:15AM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

I'm growing three different types, Cherry Rose, Empress Red and a climbing type, name escapes me at the moment. All of them seem to be thriving, it may be because I pay very little attention to them. I don't feed them and water them sparingly. I've heard they grow best that way.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 9:43AM
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I'm with Linda. I planted seeds about 2 years ago and just ignored them. They just grow and bloom like mad during the cool season. When summer comes they are toast though. Just keep trying seeds in different spots until they take somewhere. They don't need much. Whats the weather like where you live? The pictures below are of different kinds mixed together. The pale yellow ones I remember the packet specifically stated it was a vine. The colorful ones usually grow in clumps and spread like bushes. When they hit a wall or something they will climb on themselves and move upward that way.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 1:57AM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I had good luck last year growing them in the area of my garden with the leanest soil and then avioding them while fertilizing the garden during the summer. I started seed indoors and planted out in late May. They sulked for awhile (this maybe because it was cool in May) but they started picking up when it got warmer and then were really beautiful throughout the fall. The mix "Jewel of Africa" did very well. I also grew a mahogany variety and felt like they were less vigorous. I wonder if this is true for some of the more unique varieties?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 12:36PM
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i have nasturtium growing in the sun and shade..and thier thriving in the shade..not doing well in the sun..especially behind my lilac's just taken over my flower beds.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 5:00PM
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I have tried to grow Nasturtium from seeds in April this year but none of them sprouted. I soak it overnight before planted in a seeding tray, put it on top of the fridge. Not even one sprouted ...don't know why?
Friend of mine just put them between wet paper towels and had sprouted quite well. I just don't understand, are they suppose to grow in soil instead of paper towels?
Are they difficult to grow from seeds? Any good suggestion? Will appreciated.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 3:04PM
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I tried growing mine (the common orange/yellow variety) in a hanging basket last year and they didn't do too well so I transplanted them under an azalea on the west side of the house. They took off!! They quickly climbed the bush and flowered making a nasturtium bush effect. They were perfect under there. They only received afternoon sun and were completely neglected. No water (other than Ma Nature) and no fertilizer.

I plan on doing the same this year after the azaleas are done blooming.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 1:43PM
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quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

I planted mine in clay amended with compost in the cold frame in March and am picking them with the spinache for salad. But I agree with all of the replies here. They dont like full sun once temps go above 80. Experiment to find a spot in bright shade, and they will reseed themselves like mine did.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 4:20PM
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LAA668984(z4/5 ny)

I've never had trouble growing nasturtiums, they seem to be one of the easiest things to grow. I know they don't like transplanting, so you should sow them in peat pots or directly in the ground. They like a soil more on the dry side too. I am trying the "apricot trifle" ones this year, supposed to be a salmon-peach shade.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 9:12AM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

I can't claim to be an expert as I've failed at nasturtiums myself. I think what they want is a soil with low fertility (fertilizer and/or rich soil promote leaves at the expense of flowers), fairly cool temperatures (they tend to peter out in our hot and humid summers) and no root disturbance (so they are best sown directly in the soil; if purchased as plants or started indoors, they should be planted in the ground with as little root disturbance as possible).

I think the real trick is to get them in early so they can get established and start blooming before hot summer weather--I planted mine early this year, and they are definitely doing better than the last time I tried them (although they haven't bloomed yet).

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 9:52AM
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They like poor culture and will not bloom if well attended and "dinked" with.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 2:34AM
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I've grown them on the Jersey shore (LBI) and they do well when neglected. I now plant them directly in the soil and they will take off eventually. I even have them reseed the following year. Good luck

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 3:49PM
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MonkeyGirl(Near SF, CA z10)

They grow like weeds here. I have loads of volunteers. I love them. If I want them someplace specific, I sow seeds I saved from the year before directly into the ground. The flowers are tasty/spicy in salads, and lovely to boot.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 2:17PM
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I think you got a bad packet of seeds they are pretty easy to germinate. It sounds like you did everything right although I never put mine on top of the fridge. Maybe there wasn't enough light.
My problems always come AFTER they germinate!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 2:48AM
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Swedeinla(SoCal z10)

I have billions (ok maybe hundreds) of nasturtiums which seed themselves on the hill behind my house in thw orst soil conditions imaginable. They thrive in that hard beige clay (as long as it still rains or I water them). Maybe some poor soil and neglect will do the trick ;-)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 1:58PM
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vinelover, do those come up by themselves every year?
can nasturtiums be 'pinched back'?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:06PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

What about soaking the seed? I am getting ready to direct sow and wasn't sure if I need to soak them ahead of time or just put them in and water?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 8:38AM
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Where can I order the seeds for the vining type?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 4:26PM
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Neglect is what they prefer. Since our summers are hot I had mine planted on the East of the house with sun until 2pm. Watering when needed, no feed and deadheading once in a while was all I gave it...they kinda pooped out in mid summer but had a quick comeback. I have some self-sown plants this spring! Yippie
BTW I have 'Scarlet Gleam'


    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 11:10AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

mine are up already here...just pop those seeds in and water.

Just about any garden center/hardware store sell seeds of the trailing...check what the package says.

I have a nice trailer called 'Moonlight' pastel yellow, goes with every color in the garden (I think)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 7:22AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks for all the encouragement...I have a few more seedlings popping up. I think I might have started them a little late but it has been so cool, maybe it will stay that way? [g] AT any rate they are morning sun only so that should help. I will start them earlier next year.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 6:24PM
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Hi there,
I have always had nasturtiums but this year I totally forgot and fertilized them with a mild liquid 5-1-1 fish fertilizer. That might have been fine but I did it more than once. Sure enough - lots of leaves and no flowers. Is this permanent or will it wash out and give me some flowers by the end of the summer?


    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 12:14AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Sorry CSML..haven't got the answer to your question. I haven't got any blooms on my nasturtiums either. I started them late. I have a good set of leaves on them now, but no flowers. They sprouted about the middle of June and here it is the middle of would I normally have blooms by now, if I had sowed the seed earlier? What I mean is, if someone sowed them at the beginning of May, when the weather was cooler, did they get blooms a month later?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 4:53AM
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I can't get the seed to sprout in pots. Do they sprout better in the ground?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 10:29PM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I think it takes at least 6 weeks until nasturtiums bloom, then they go crazy.
But, they stall with high heat.
My guess is that you will have great flowers soon and they sure do love the fall.
Your zone is so different, but, I bet if you had those in the ground a few weeks before your last frost, you would have flowers earlier. I plant about 2 weeks before last frost date and they are up by the end of may and blooming well by end of june - early july.
Mine are in lots of compost and bloom like mad.
hope this helps

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 7:32AM
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I haven't grown any for years, but I found them extremely easy to grow, east side of the house so morning sun only, problem was just when they hit their prime and started blooming nicely, the aphids got them. I tried spraying some powdery stuff on them, it didn't do much good. I don't want to mess with insecticides any more than I have to now.

That happened two years in a row with the aphids. There were too many to pick off or try to hose off and they congregated on the underside of the leaves.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 5:59PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks franeli.. :-)

I didn't realize until later that I could start them so early. I thought they might not survive early cold spells. Next year I will definitely start them earlier. I also know I have read many times that they grow and bloom better in lean soil, but you get good results with compost. Well, will have to try them both ways next year and see what happens. I also may topdress a few with compost this year and see what happens.

I did see one very small flower the other day. So they are a cool season plant like pansies? I will look forward to the fall and hope they will keep going. Thanks :-)

aliska..well I haven't see aphids yet, but then again, they haven't started blooming yet. [g] I was wondering if they would take a part shade location, since they seem to dislike the heat. I will try that next time. Right now one pair is in sun from 7am to 1pm, but the rest are in more sun..closer to 7 hrs a day.

I will definitely give them a try again next year. I have seen some gorgeous containers with them in it. I like the foliage when it is clean and am keeping my fingers crossed for some great blooms.

Thanks :-)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 6:24AM
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Elaine Young

I, too, have problems with my nasturtium, even though I've tried to "neglect" them as is recommended. They are the trailing variety and did quite well up until about 4 weeks ago. I live in NYC and have them where they get afternoon sun.

Barely a flower anymore, most of the leaves turned yellow and any new leaves are really tiny and not getting any bigger at all. Are these all symptoms of them not liking the hot weather? Should I cut them back or anything and hope they will revitalize when the cooler weather comes?


    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 4:28PM
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I invariably have trouble with nasturtiums, too. They seem to like cool climates-- in San Francisco, there are nasturtiums that line one of the main highways and the leaves are HUGE-- as big as your hand-- and they have been there for years and years. No one seems to really tend them. I even see clumps of them by the side of the highway, to add insult to injury. I have tried them both from seed and from seedlings-- at the moment I have a very hardy one and it's on my balcony and it's pretty protected from the elements and it's doing quite well-- gets bigger every day. But I have others planted from seed that look pretty puny. I live in California, so the summers can be quite hot. I am really watching to make sure my balcony nasturtium continues to do well. But I don't know where I got the impression that they're easy to grow!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 9:47PM
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I guess temperature over there is quiet high as Nastz like a bit cooler, they are non-tolerant for drought as well.

In the previous fall season I planted some of trailing type in a bed with no fertilizers added, watered them every third day and in return they gave me profuse blooming and fragrance for more than two months, before they died form heat wave at the onset of summer.

Here are some pics:



1 Like    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 12:35AM
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nann0n(z11 Qld Aust)

They are one of my favourite flowers and once I made the mistake of planting the trailing type in my vege garden. Now they self seed all the time and try to take over. They have beautiful big leaves and bright (almost neon) orange flowers. Pinching the trailing tips IMO tends to make them branch more.
If I ever plant them with my veges again I will definitely go with the bush type and hopefully they wont bully everything else in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 6:52PM
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Sorry to tell you nanOn but all Nasturtiums climb, trail along the ground or trail in a planter.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 10:52PM
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Oilpainter, once i tried "Dwarf Jewel Mix" variety, it had smaller leaves and they formed mounds rather than forming long branches like trailing varieties.. any views?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:38AM
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Never tried that variety so maybe there is one that doesn't trail. Personally I like the trailers. They are just the right height to climb my 4 foot chain link fence and hide it without flopping over on the top.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 8:29PM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

There are plenty of non-trailing, bush-type nasturtiums. Look for words like "dwarf" in the description.

This year I saw a new, extra-small one called Princess of India. Supposed to be even smaller than Empress of India, which gets about a foot high and wide for me.

Oh, and mine never look like the catalog/seed packet pictures. They're always rangier and messier. Sort of like models without the airbrushing and makeup. ;-)

Some people wintersow nasturtiums. If they self seed in your area, you can wintersow nasturtiums; and there's a forum full of people who can help you with that. I started mine in milk jugs around Tax Day, technically spring sowing because my average last frost is May 15th. I did kill a few when I transplanted, because I snapped the brittle stems. Mine are blooming now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Princess of India

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:55AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I had good luck growing nasturtium 'Alaska' in a Hay Rack last year. No fertilizing either.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 3:58AM
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I bought the Tall Mix Vining Type seeds without realizing. I am starting from seeds but inside in some kind of "seed starter tray" Did anybody have any luck using seed starting kits with Nasturtium> Are they harder to grow than the dwarf kind? I have many spots in my yard with full, partial, sun or none. Where would they do best? Also, are they heavy? my fence is getting old.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Hi! Manani, not sure if this will help you, but I started my nasturtiums indoors on a seed started tray. I did NOT soak or nick them before planting. I only had one out of 20 come up. I think my soil was just too wet. The one that did come up has thrived, though, even through two transplantings! It's the vining type.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Here's some I started April 2. Combination leftover Miracle Grow soil from last years pots and peat moss. No soaking but they were nicked. I've never had success with these things and plan on doing the absolute opposite this year by placing them in hanging baskets in partial sun and cooler shade...with good soil. Last chance before I give up after numerous tries. They were started in a small "seed house" kept warm.

I already planted out nine. These things seem so hit and miss and depends on nearly anything and everything.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:16AM
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Is it possible to grow them from cuttings? I have not had luck finding the plants in my area but there is a huge pot of them growing outside the hardware store and I was thinking of asking them if i could take a cutting.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 4:11AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I have never grown nasturtiums from cuttings because they self sow without any problems for me. However, if they are put on the compost heap they will continue to put out flowers unless thoroughly buried. They also root when they touch the ground. So I should think the chances for cuttings are good. Stem cuttings that is, not leaf stem cuttings.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 12:15PM
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