Name: Tropaeolum majus aka garden nasturtium
Type of Plant: This is an annual for those in the colder regions, and a plant that is so easy to grow from seed. Nasturtiums thrive in full sun and other than occasional aphid they are remarkably pest free.
Why I Love This: I love nasturtiums because their round leaves and bright orange or yellow flowers are so cheerful looking. But I also love this plant because the leaves and flowers are edible. Even now, in mid-November, we’re adding nasturtium flowers and leaves to the kale and lettuce for a daily salad. We also use them in pesto and occasionally throw handfuls of the flowers on a pizza just before it comes out of the oven. The leaves and flowers are kind of spicy, so if you like a bit of zest this is a must-grow plant in your herb or veggie garden.
I especially love the vining varieties because they can grow in and among other flowers or vegetables. You can even grow them up small trellises or have them cascade out of window boxes. Nasturtiums have an old fashioned look that is right at home in cottage gardens, herb gardens, or spilling out of large containers.
A Word to the Wise: Although you can buy small nasturtium plants in the spring, do try growing these from seed. You just poke a seed about an inch into the soil in May or early June and water…they germinate quickly and are very tough plants once they start growing. And once you have grown them for a season or two, be on the lookout for early, self-seeded plants that poke up. Bonus: free, early surprise plants!
And don’t forget that these annuals make great additions to small bouquets and are perfect for garnishing summer dishes.