Nasturtium, (tropaeolum majus), also called indian cress, annual plant of the family tropaeolaceae, cultivated as a decorative for its appealing leaves and flowers. The plant is native to the andes mountains of south america and is thought about an invasive species in a couple of areas outside its native range. The peppery-tasting leaves and flowers are edible and can be utilized in salads or as a floral garnish. The young flower buds and fruit are sometimes used as spices. Unrelated, the genus nasturtium consists of aquatic herbs of the family brassicaceae.

Physical description

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

Latin name

Tropaeolum majus.



Also known as

Indian cress, monks cress.

Type of plant

Annuals herbs.

Blossom season

May – june.


Fall spring.


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


Vibrant, edible, butterfly-like nasturtium blooms have pleased gardeners and cooks alike for centuries. At various times in their history, they’ve 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 very first, brought to 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 areas on the petals and shield-shaped leaves. According to jesuit missionaries, the incas used nasturtiums as a salad vegetable and as a medical herb. In the late 17th century, a dutch botanist introduced the taller, more energetic tropaeolum majus, a routing vine with darker orange flowers and more rounded leaves. Given that spanish and dutch herbalists shared seeds with their equivalents, the quite, fragrant and easy-to-grow plants quickly ended up being prevalent throughout around europe and britain.

Nasturtiums were frequently understood in europe as indian cress or a translation of “capucine cress”, in reference to the flower shape, which looks like capucine monks’ hooded robes. Leaves of both types were eaten in salads; unripe seeds and flower buds were marinaded and acted as a substitute for capers. (we understand now that these pickled flower buds are high in oxalic acid and therefore ought to not be eaten in large amounts.).

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

Although it is in some cases 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 veggie garden at monticello from a minimum of 1774 onward. Interestingly, in one entry in his garden book, he classified it as a fruit among others such as the tomato, suggesting that he consumed the pickled seeds. Many nasturtiums grown at this time were the high, tracking orange variety.over the course of the 19th century, breeders produced smaller sized, more compact types that mounded nicely into containers or formed a vibrant, 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 advancements paralleled the gradual shift in the perception of nasturtiums from edible and organic garden pillars to viewing them as ornamental landscape plants. Monet let big swaths babble along a walk at giverny. The flowers and lasting leaves were popular in victorian bouquets and table arrangements. Nasturtiums were still consumed, nevertheless, and were known to help prevent scurvy, considering that the leaves are rich in vitamin c.

Later on 20th century contributions to nasturtium breeding consist of the introduction of ranges with spurless, upward-facing blooms and flowers that drift greater above the leaves, perfect for bedding or containers. A complete spectrum of flower colors is now available, including single colors– beneficial for landscape styles: pale yellow, golden, orange, brick-red, cherry pink, salmon, crimson, and dark mahogany. The recent interest in edible flowers, herbs, ornamental kitchen area gardens and treasure flowers has assisted keep a full variety of old and new cultivars offered for each possible use. [3]

20 uses for nasturtiums

I’m so thrilled with this plant. I simply need to share 20 uses for nasturtiums that i have actually learned about these ornamental ‘quiet achievers.’ if you just have limited space, select wisely and choose plants that provide you numerous functions.

1. Nasturtiums are edible

Not only do they look excellent, however they taste terrific too– in fact, you can eat the entire 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 aromatic, are edible too. (more about that later!) A word of warning, however, never consume 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 are plentiful in vitamins b1, b2, b3 and c and also include manganese, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

3. Nasturtiums are insect bug repellents

These herbs operate in numerous ways to hinder insects. Nasturtiums mask the aroma of plants that are frequently targeted by bugs and camouflage the leaves of food plants that insects are searching for. The highly scented leaves actively ward off specific bugs and attract others as a trap crop. They pack a real punch by secreting a mustard oil that some pests are drawn in to. You can plant them as a sacrificial buddy crop to bring in cabbage white butterflies so they lay their eggs on your nasturtiums and leave your brassicas like broccoli, cabbage and kale alone!

4. Medical health benefits

Lots of scientific studies * have been done to discover the recovery residential or commercial properties of this plant. The leaves have been found to contain powerful antibiotic, antimicrobial, antioxidant and general tonic actions, and can aid food digestion. Research studies reveal the distinct substances in nasturtiums to be effective against some microbes that are resistant to common antibiotics; may assist avoid and alleviate coughs, colds and influenza and consuming 3 seeds everyday assists develop resistance to viruses, colds and measles. One leaf consumed per hour at the beginning of a sore throat can dramatically reduce the seriousness of the infection. It is likewise utilized as an expectorant, anti-fungal and antibacterial.

5. Buddy plants

According to the helpful book ‘permaculture plants’ nasturtiums likewise make fantastic buddy plants to turnips, radishes, cucumbers and zucchini.

6. Nasturtium flowers bring in advantageous insects

The sweet nectar in the flower brings in helpful pollinating pests like bees and butterflies, hoverflies (that feed upon bugs) and nectar-eating birds.

7. Fantastic value space fillers for prudent garden enthusiasts

A healthy plant can cover 3 square metres so you save stacks by not having to buy lots of other plants to cover the very same area.

8. Joyful cut flowers

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

9. Nasturtiums are long flowering

These yearly prolific bloomers offer excellent value blooming for extended durations most of the year up until frost.

10. Dead easy to grow

This carefree, humble herb grows on disregard … so lazy garden enthusiasts keep in mind! They are not picky about soil, sun or shade and are ideal for novice garden enthusiasts.

11. Loads of complimentary seeds

You get a substantial variety of new nasturtium plants from simply one! When the flower dies off, a seed head forms. Every flower produces 2-3 new pale green seeds. If you don’t choose and save these, they will willingly drop to the ground and self-sow. You can utilize the seeds in lots of ways. Dry and grind to make your own pepper, eat raw in salads or as a treat, or pickle the green seeds to preserve them and use as a caper replacement.

12. Vibrant blossoms

Nasturtiums have to be one of the most joyful flowers to have in your garden. Some varieties have variegated leaves so you can take pleasure in stripey white and green colours also.

13. Living mulch/ground cover

Because of the excessive leaf development, nasturtiums make a fantastic mulch if you slice and drop it around your plants. Or grow nasturtiums as a ground cover to shade your soil and lower moisture loss. Nasturtiums will break down and break down at the end of their life, including nutrients to your soil. Nasturtiums are specifically helpful under fruit or function 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 actually utilized them as a filler around a large leopard tree just outside the cooking area– close for gathering and quite colour to look out on.

14. Fast flowers and living art work

Nasturtium plants grow rapidly and are a terrific choice for covering a horizontal or vertical area in a brief space of time. Climbing up varieties are perfect for trellises and vertical structures and compact cultivars are ideal for pots and small spaces.

15. Nasturtiums as a flavour improver

This herb is an outstanding companion for many plants, enhancing their growth and flavour.

16. Excellent garnish

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

17. Extract weeds

When developed, the thick cover of nasturtium leaves and flowers will supply adequate shade to conquer most weed competition.

18. Poultry drug store

Critical chooks will gain from the highly antibacterial and medical homes in the leaves. Offered a possibility your chickens will snack on the seeds and self-medicate. This herb is a vermifuge (de-wormer) so is excellent to utilize for worming your chickens. Nasturtiums are also great for chooks with anxious disorders and depression. Yes– they do have feelings! The strong fragrance also repels irritating insect bugs. Toss them in with your chicken’s routine feed or mature their coop (planted on the outside to prevent them digging up the roots).

19. Fragrant flowers

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

20. Make gorgeous pushed 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 fantastic way to protect the charm of these beautiful flowers and leaves. [4]

How to plant, grow, and care for nasturtiums

The nasturtium is a pleasant and easy-to-grow flower! Their vibrant blooms and edible leaves, flowers, and seedpods make them a particularly enjoyable flower for kids to plant and a favorite companion plant in the garden. Here’s how to grow your own nasturtiums!

About nasturtiums

These beautiful plants, with their special greenery and vibrant flowers, grow well in containers or as ground cover around vegetable gardens. In fact, they are frequently used as a trap crop in companion planting, drawing aphids and other garden insects far from the more valuable veggies.

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

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

Nasturtiums are grown as yearly plants in many locations, though they might perennialize in frost-free zones.

Types of nasturtiums

There are numerous varieties of nasturtiums, which are divided into 2 main types: tracking or climbing up types (tropaeolum majus) and bush types (t. Minus). As their names suggest, the main difference in between them is their development practice, with tracking nasturtiums forming long vines and bush nasturtiums remaining more compact. (bush types are likewise in some cases called “dwarf” nasturtiums.).

Routing nasturtiums are a great choice for growing in a flowerpot or hanging basket, as their vines will curtain and climb beautifully. Bush nasturtiums are a much better option for smaller sized gardens where space is restricted.

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


When to plant nasturtiums

Nasturtium seeds might be sown directly in the garden (advised) or began inside your home. Their vulnerable roots are sensitive to transplanting, so we choose to direct-sow them.

Inside: start seeds 2 to 4 weeks prior to your last spring frost date.

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

Picking and preparing a planting website

Nasturtiums do well in poorer soils and do not generally need extra fertilizer (unless your soil is exceptionally poor). Too much nitrogen will encourage more foliage than flowers.

Soil must be well-draining.

Plant nasturtiums in full sun (6– 8 hours of sunshine) for the very best results. They will grow in partial shade (3– 6 hours of sunlight), but will not bloom too.

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

How to plant nasturtiums

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

Plants should appear in 7 to 10 days.


How to care for nasturtiums

Water regularly throughout the growing season, but take care not to overwater your plants. Nasturtiums are somewhat drought tolerant, however still choose to grow in moist soil. Plus, water-stressed plants will have substandard flowers and taste.

Cutting off the faded/dead flowers will extend flowering.

If you’re growing nasturtiums in containers, they may need to be trimmed back periodically over the growing season. This encourages the plants to produce brand-new foliage.

In summer season, nasturtiums may stop blooming if they become heat-stressed. Their taste might become more extreme, too. Keeping them sufficiently watered can help to reduce the impacts of severe temperature levels.

Nasturtiums are typically utilized as a trap crop, bring in pests like aphids far from susceptible veggies. Image by catherine boeckmann.

Suggested ranges

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

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

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

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


How to collect nasturtiums

Leaves and flowers can be collected at any time.

Seedpods should be collected prior to seeds have had a possibility to mature and harden.

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

If you allow the seedpods to develop, you can save 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, brush off the soil, dry them, and keep them in a paper envelope in a cool and dark place. [5]


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

Furthermore, this plant is used to brew organic tea that is both hydrating and a great source of several nutrients.

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

One types, mashua t. Tuberosum, produces an edible underground tuber that is a major crop in specific parts of the andes.

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

Its taste is also comparable to watercress, so you can essentially replace one for the other in many dishes.

To include both a pop of color and a dosage of nutrients to your meals, try these dishes using nasturtium:.

  1. Make a nasturtium pesto using the flowers plus garlic, oil, lemon juice, pine nuts and salt all combined in a food processor.
  2. Try out using a number of nasturtium leaves on sandwiches as a substitute for mustard.
  3. Utilize the leaves in place of watercress in salads and as a vibrant garnish.
  4. Attempt them in stir-fries with older vegetables or to top cold soups.
  5. Things nasturtium entrusts to cheese, garlic and herbs.
  6. Add a couple of leaves to fresh-pressed green juices or shakes (as long as you don’t find the taste to be overwhelming). [6]

Negative effects

Nasturtium might be safe for adults when applied straight to the skin in combination with other alternative medicines. It can cause skin irritation, especially if utilized for a long period of time.

There isn’t enough details to understand if nasturtium is safe when taken by mouth. It can cause stomach upset, kidney damage, and other side results. [7]

Does and administration

It is suggested to consume no more than 30 g of fresh herb daily for medical purposes.

As the appropriate dosage of nasturtium may depend on a number of elements such as the age, health, and ailment, it is a great concept to speak with a trained herbalist with knowledge of the herb’s uses in organic medication before use. [8]

Unique precautions and warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: there isn’t enough reliable info to know if nasturtium is safe to utilize when pregnant or breast-feeding. Remain on the safe side and avoid usage.

Kids: nasturtium is most likely hazardous for kids when taken by mouth. There isn’t sufficient trusted details to know if nasturtium is safe for kids when applied to the skin.

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

Kidney disease: do not take nasturtium if you have kidney illness. It might make kidney disease even worse. [9]
Although some parts of the nasturtium flower are edible and jam-packed with health advantages, the seeds are thought about poisonous and need to not be taken in. What’s more, there are likewise some preventative measures concerning ingesting big quantities of nasturtium. However fortunately is this flower is generally thought about safe for pets. [10]


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