Flower Tales-Nasturtiums


“A beautiful flower is still beautiful, whether millions see it, or one or two, or none.”  ~Frank Kingdon Ward



I am glad I decided to post monthly about favorite flowers I grow from seed given the winter we have had.  Typically white?  Yes, without a thaw and just about on target for our 12 feet of annual snow most falling in February so far.  Atypically frigid so not much time spent outside.  Most days have been below 20 degrees, and many more below zero days or nights then we have seen for a long time.

But these cold days have given me lots of time to work on indoor projects left over from last year.  WeDSCN9914
have gone through every nook and cranny cleaning and clearing out what we no longer, want or use.  And come late spring we will have our first (and hopefully only) garage sale.  We also gave away loads more than we are selling to our local thrift store.

It has been liberating to clean out so much clutter.  And now I have a great spot to do my seed starting with a table and shelves.  Just in time as I have started pansies and violas (hybrids of the family Violaceae), and at the end of this week snapdragons or Antirrhinum.  I’ll have a post about the pansies and violas in a few weeks to round out this winter’s Flower Tales series.

But for this post, I am turning to a favorite flower that I plant each spring in my veg garden; Tropaeolum majus or garden nasturtium (also known as Indian cress or monks cress).  Nasturtiums are in the family Tropaeolaceae (the Nasturtium family).

With this month’s flower tale, I am linking in for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by Carol@May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month.  And I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday





IMG_2683The name nasturtium comes from the Latin “Nasus Tortus” meaning convulsed or twisted nose, which refers to the spicy flavor of the plant.  Nasturtium’s common name comes from the fact that it has a similar taste to watercress (Nasturtium officinale).





Growing Conditions

Tropaeolum majus is considered an annual. In milder climates Tropaeolum majus can self seed and come back the next year. 

I love planting nasturtiums because the seeds are so large you can’t miss them.  It is recommended that IMG_37641seeds be sown right before you last frost date which is why I plant mine in mid-May. 

Plant nasturtiums in full sun for the best flowering.  In the heat of summer they will flower nicely in part shade too as mine do.  If they do stop flowering in the hot weather, you can cut them back as they will regrow in the cooler fall. 

Nasturtiums do not like rich soils and flower best if the soil is not fertilized too much.  I plant mine on the edge of the veg beds so when we fertilize we miss them.  They do fine when I mix a bit of compost in the soil before I plant them.  And keep them well-watered and free of weeds, and they will flower in about 2 months lasting right up until the first killing frost.

Nasturtiums can have a few pests like slugs and white flies.

I like to grow both the compact and trailing forms of Tropaeolum majus.  Compact nasturtiums grow to about 12 inches high, and the trailing will grow up trellises or down a wall.   




Folklore and Tales

The nasturtiums we grow today come from 2 native species in Peru.  Jesuit missionaries reported that the Incas used nasturtiums in salads and in medicines to treat coughs and colds as well as for minor cuts and scratches.

IMG_3956The Spanish conquistadors brought them back in the late 15th century.  Spanish and Dutch herbalists shared seeds with each other, quickly spreading these plants throughout Europe.

Nasturtiums became popular when King Louis XIV planted them in the palace flowerbeds.

It is reported that Thomas Jefferson planted them in his vegetable garden at Monticello.  

In the 19th century smaller compact types of nasturtiums were bred.  The flowers and leaves were used in Victorian bouquets. During this time too, nasturtiums were known to help prevent scurvy, as the leaves are rich in Vitamin C.

Monet was reported to really like nasturtiums and planted them along the path in front of his house in Giverny. 

Dried ground nasturtium seeds were used as a substitute for black pepper during WWII as pepper could not be easily imported. 





One of the main reasons I grow nasturtiums is to use them in salads or as a garnish.  All parts of this IMG_3974plant are edible. It has a wonderful peppery taste that gets stronger if you wait to harvest the flowers when the sun is hotter.  

You can also stuff the blossoms with a variety of mixtures including guacamole, cream cheese and egg salad.

Tropaeolum majus is a larval food source for some Lepidoptera species such as the Dot Moth and the Garden Carpet Moth. 

Nasturtiums are also used as companion plants. They are said to repel squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and several caterpillars.  And they serve as a trap for black fly aphids as I found in my veg garden last year.  They also attract beneficial predatory insects.




Language of Flowers



In the language of flowers Nasturtiums stand for Patriotism.  It is also known as the flower of heroes signifying conquest and victory in battle.



Do you grow nasturtiums?  If you do, have you ever eaten or used the flowers?



In A Vase On Monday 



minerva1 With the temps below zero and 5 feet of snow in the garden, it is still impossible to forage in the garden.  Thankfully I have more indoor bulbs blooming to make a vase.




 minerva collage

This stunning bulb is  Hippeastrum ‘Minerva’.  I love the colors of red, pink and coral that touch the edges and veins toward the center.




minerva vase1

This is one of my simple go to vases, and the color matches the center of the flower.    I needed some greenery to accompany the flowers, and I looked to my few house plants for help.  The dark green leaves are from a small Peace lily or Spathiphyllum that was a gift from a neighbor a few years ago.  And the mottled leaves are from Begonia  medora or Trout-leaf Begonia which was given to me by a dear friend.   I love the silver spots on the green leaves and the pink underside which matches the flower perfectly.

I placed it on a table with one of our Tiffany-style lamps and a special Hummel that was given to me by my husband several years ago.  You can see that 2 of the 4 flowers have opened in these pictures.




minerva vase2Then I moved the vase to the living room table as the other 2 flowers were opening.  I am quite pleased with the effect of this vase and love how it blends perfectly in with our living room decor.

I am joining in with a couple of memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday and Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.




Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, I will have another wildflower profile.  And on Friday, it will be time for another Seasonal Celebrations.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.



96 Replies to “Flower Tales-Nasturtiums”

  1. Oh dear, what a lot of snow, still it is great to get the house sorted out and plan your seed sowing. Nasturtiums are always a winner. When I was a child I always thought they were called ‘ Nasty Urchins’. I still think of them that way.
    Your arrangement is delightful. Your Hippeastrum looks so much prettier like this than mine does perched on its long giraffe neck.

    1. It is about all we can do as the weather will continue at least until the end of February. I love the name “nasty urchins”.

      I have many more Hippeastrum coming up so I will be looking for new ways to display them….and I agree, they seem lovelier than when I just left them in the pot. Thanks for stopping by Chloris!

  2. I love using Nasturtiums in my kitchen garden for companion planting as well as eating. I’m trying a new variety this year…climbing nasturtium ‘spitfire’. It will trail up a small trellis and has scarlet-red blossoms which are reportedly adored by hummingbirds. Flavor is described as “reminiscent of watercress with a pinch of honey”. Oh, I can’t wait to get started planting!

    1. I have ‘Spitfire’ too Karin. I hope to get them to trellis and I bet they will look stunning. I’ll have to see if the hummers visit them so I will make sure I plant several in strategic spots. And I’ll have to do a taste comparison. Thanks for sharing the attributes of this nasturtium!

  3. Great information on a plant I like very much. We always found a space in the garden for nasturtium Donna. Myra hated clearing them out in the Autumn, feeling they had a terrible smell. Personally in all ways, the look and fragrance transports me back almost sixty years ago to my grandparents house in, The Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.

    1. Oh what a special memory Alistair. I think our favorite plants come from the scents we remember from our family’s gardens.

  4. That is such a lot of snow Donna! I really like your arrangement today, I agree with Chloris that they look better in a vase than they do in a pot and that isn’t true of many plants. Keep warm!

    1. Thanks so much Christina. I really am enjoying the Hippeastrum flowers so much better in vases this year. And the many that are growing will have to supply me with vase material from now until spring. I hope we do have a change to some warmer weather soon so we can have a slow melt.

  5. I love Nasturtiums and their beautiful warm colours!
    My sowing them, however, has never been very successful. I hope one year to be able to fill the window boxes of our home with those lovely yellows, oranges and reds.
    And I should sometimes try to use the seedpods. When pickled, they are said to taste like capers.

    1. I had heard that about the seeds tasting like capers. If I can remember I would like to try them too. I hope yours fill those window boxes this year Sara!

  6. Hello Donna, it is a lovely flower and plant.. Thanks for sharing the info.. I just love your pretty vase and arrangement! Have a happy new week!

  7. I’ve tried growing nasturtiems to use for salad colour but the bugs got to them first.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Donna.

    1. I found that happens for me too Judith especially last year because I planted them in part shade and too congested. When I plant them only with beans and peas, they seem to flourish and bugs don’t bother them. And I place them close to the edge of my beds so they get lots of sun and room.

      I am thinking of planting them in containers too this year so I get enough flowers, hoping the bugs stay away.

  8. That vase is spot on Donna! The mottled and the glossy green leaves go beautifully with your Amaryllis and the colour of the vase matches so well. 🙂 Yes, I sometimes grow Nasturtiums but do have problems with slugs… maybe I could hang one somewhere this year out of their reach! I like the peppery flavour and have so far only added them to salads principally as decoration, but filling them with guacamole sounds like an excellent idea!

    1. I have not had issues with my nasturtiums being eaten by slugs, but I have heard that slugs can be a problem. And I am so glad you liked the arrangement Cathy.

  9. Forage in the garden you say? What garden? I can’t find it under all this snow and may not see it until late May the way this winter is going. It is nice you are having the seed table. A nice way to pass through a long winter.

    1. I am thinking the same thing Donna….the seed growing indoors is helping me keep my hands in the soil. At least another foot this week and maybe another this weekend they say….lots of lake snow still falling here. I have a few landmarks I am tracking to see if they become covered.

  10. I’ve seen a lot of nasturtiums growing in wild areas in NZ. But i love more your hippeastrum. I want to buy some bulbs from there too, but it is very expensive, even more expensive than online.

    1. How lovely to see nasturtiums growing in the wild. I was lucky enough to win a few Hippeastrum bulbs this as they can be expensive.

  11. Beautiful!
    I’ve just started two amaryllis bulbs. Hope to have blooms by the March Bloom Day.
    I like to grow Nasturtiums. They are very pretty, and the seeds are large enough I can space them out easily when planting. I’ve heard that the blooms are edible, but I’ve never tasted one.
    We have rain here today instead of the sleet and snow that was in the forecast. I am so thankful!
    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Oh I bet those bulbs grow fast. I am amazed how fast they can grow. Oh you should taste them… bit peppery…I love them. Lucky you. I would like a bit of warm air for some melt.

  12. Thank you for the information on the nasturtiums, Donna. I have tried them before, but they didn’t flower very well for me. I think I might try them again this year after all the good things you mentioned here.
    Your amaryllis is gorgeous! What a beautiful flower to brighten up your house during this time of year.

    1. Oh do try them again in your sunniest spot….the amaryllis has helped add some color which has helped this winter…it has been nice having a weekly vase.

  13. it’s that time of year when we champ at the bit for the growing season to start and even though it looks like you are still in mid-winter, sounds like you’ve done a mass of Spring clearing. Lightening your load and making room – as if a weight of snow has fallen off!
    nastrutirums are a favourite of mine too – so art nouvea in spite of their urbanity. Mostly I stick a few seeds in my herb window boxes and use as salads but will use your idea of stuffing the blooms.
    Hope you soon melt Donna!

    1. I hope all the spring clearing will give me time for the spring garden. I had never thought of nasturtiums as art nouveau but yes I can see that Laura….can’t wait to start them from seed soon.

  14. Beautiful and informative as ever Donna. Thank you for your kind words on my post, I’m so glad we’re connected. As always I appreciate that you’ve linked up with I Heart Macro:-)

  15. Fascinating information, Donna – I had never come across the ‘twisted nose’ reference before. I love it! I am growing some pretty very pale yellow and almost cream ones this year – hopefully they will flower better this year than the ones I had last year. I have now learned with the hippeastrum to cut them while they are mostly in bud, as you have done, so they will last longer in the vase. Definitely prettier than on a long stem! Inspired use of house plant leaves too – but I can appreciate you are itching to get in the garden again!

    1. Thanks Cathy….I am hoping the garden is found under all that snow in about 4 weeks as I will be running out of Hippeastrum bulbs by then. And yes I am itching to get in the garden soon.

  16. Wonderful post Donna and a heck of a lot of snow! I do love Nasturtiums and grow them to gracefully drape over my one particularly high raised bed. My favorite is “Empress of India” which is the deepest wine red of the variety. The seeds are very hearty, have you noticed! It doesn’t take much to germinate them.

    1. I have seen that variety and am intrigued to try it in the future….yep lots of snow and very cold but I am just hoping for a slow warm up next month.

  17. My grandfather always had Nasturtiums in his garden, these flowers remind me of him. The only nasturtium I grow is the perennial climber Tropaeolum speciosum, it grows through my front hedge and is a beauty.
    Love the vase, those blooms and foliage are just perfect for it Donna.

    1. Thanks Angie…how wonderful to have those lovely memories of nasturtiums. I have never seen that particular nasturtium, Tropaeolum speciosum.

  18. I was just thinking that I need a spot of bad weather to get my own house back in order – winter storms do have their uses if you take advantage of them as you did. Thank you for the Nasturium overview – you’ve nudged me closer to planting a batch of these seeds to liven up a section of my garden. Your Amaryllis vase is beautiful too – the Hummel was a perfect addition.

    1. Many winter storms here so I am on to other projects indoors…..but soon enough it will be time to work outside….Kris, I am glad you really liked the vase and with its props.

  19. I can image the amount of snow that you must be dealing with. We have seen the news and the east looks miserable. We did get snow over night, but it was only a skiff and most has melted, but the weather lady speaking now isn’t too positive about a warm-up. I am always quite surprised to see green poking through the soil in February. We can have hard freezes clear up to Mother’s Day. We haven’t started seeds yet. I like your line on table tops and selves–anywhere where seed starts might take place. I do hope you warm up, and thanks for stopping by the Garden Spot.

    1. Well the winter has to give way eventually to spring….but starting seeds I think does help me know that spring is closer. Keep warm thoughts going for us Ann!

  20. I’ve grown nasturtiums since I was a child. This year I’m planning to grow some in the veggie garden and others next to the woodshed. Speaking of the woodshed, I could not get the stove started this morning. My hands are cold as I type but not as cold as they would be if I were in your part of the country.

  21. I love nasturtiums. Eating a raw seed pod is like having a wasabi experience. Sinus fly open at the thought! Thanks for the delightful and informative post. And thanks for sharing about clearing and cleaning your house. I’ve been doing the same, and it feels wonderful!

  22. I do love Nasturtiums, though I buy young plants rather than plant seeds indoors. I love the shape of the leaves and flowers, and the way they can trail down or even climb. My favorite variety is ‘Empress of India’.

    1. Susan also grows that variety….I will have to definitely try it….I love the shape of the leaves too and hear they are yummy along with the seed pods. I can’t wait to experience more of nasturtiums this year.

  23. I love nasturtiums too. After seeing a lot of my 2013 nasturtiums eaten by deer, I decided last year instead of buying the usual fillers for my deck baskets I would seed nasturtiums in them, and it worked very well, lots of blossoms, variety of colors, and saved seed as well. I like the peppery but sweet floral taste in salads, and have cooked the leaves as well. My favorite is Alaska mixed colors, since I have a weakness for variegated leaves.

    1. I was thinking of growing more in pots instead of just in the veg beds. I saw the Alaska and may have to have them just for those leaves….luckily I have never seen the deer eat them yet, but I can understand why they would love them too.

  24. Ever since I saw mounds of nasturtiums growing amidst a vegetable garden several years ago, I have grown them in my own garden, usually in containers, every year. Last year was the first time, though, I planted them in the veggie garden, and they grew huge! I didn’t realize until then that they didn’t like the hot weather–they certainly took off in the fall. I’ve never tried to eat them, though they look so pretty as garnishes.
    We haven’t had much snow this year, which is unusual, but it certainly has been cold–less than two weeks of February left, and then I’ll definitely be ready for spring!

    1. I am happy to give you some of our snow Rose 🙂

      I think if they are in a bit of shade during hot weather, they seem to keep flowering.

  25. Donna what a lot of snow! I admire you getting on with a clear out in your house that is something I should do, I enjoyed your nasturtiums post and found it interesting, I have been meaning to buy seed each year and so far have not, perhaps this year, they are lovely little bright flowers and I have heard you can use them in salads, thanks for info, Frances

    1. Frances if you get a chance to grow nasturtiums do it…I have a few more projects scheduled while we wait for spring…and I have been catching up on my reading too!

  26. I always grow Nasturtium, Donna. One of my favorites. This year I will be growing a beautiful variety from Johnny’s called Night and Day. I have heard of Nasturtium pesto, too. Something to try. Also, capers made from the seeds but I usually save mine to plant. Can’t wait! It does seem especially cold everywhere. Hope that means an early warm up. It better start warming up soon – I’ll be coming home. Such a unique Amaryllis. I’m sure mine is dead along with all my other plants – a slow, cruel, frozen death in my cellar. What was I thinking? There’ll be karma to pay ):

    1. Those nasturtiums are gorgeous you are going to be growing…I have never heard of nasturtium pesto so I better make sure I grow enough to make some of that too! Oh I hope your plants survived….it has been the coldest February in recorded history here….maybe you will be bringing the warmth back with you!

  27. Oh that sounds a serious amount of snow Donna but I suppose it has given you the chance to get on top of the housework so that you can enjoy playing in the garden come spring. I grow some bright red nasturtiums at the allotment where they conveniently self seed from year to year.

  28. That for sharing your pretty mosaics – beautiful flowers.
    I have never grown nasturtiums, and don’t remember if have eaten them or not.
    I should be working on a major clean out in my place also while the weather is bad here. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂

    1. Good luck Glenda if you decide to do a major clean out….definitely give nasturtiums a try in both growing and tasting them.

  29. No garden rest over here, it’s non-stop I am afraid so my clutter is staying put 🙂
    Thanks for yet another informative post, this time about a plant I actually know well and love. I have grown nasturtiums on and off the last 30 years, but not lately, perhaps I should have some again.
    Lovely vase this time, I adore amaryllis and I am waiting for one to flower and one to sprout in my window. Happy GBBD!

    1. I am not sure if I would like not having a break at all Helene….but I definitely wouldn’t mind having a shorter break! At least I can see your blooms for now.

  30. I am very fond of nasturtiums. They are charming, and easy to grow! I will have some with variegated leaves in hanging baskets in the shadow. Also, I bought seeds for a lilac (!) variety this winter.
    ‘Minerva’ is flowering beautiful in my living room too 🙂

    1. Oh how wonderful you have ‘Minerva’ too! I saw the variegated leaves variety in a catalog and will definitely have to try and grow them too.

  31. This is just the dose of color I needed on a cold winter night. I’ve never been tempted to taste the nasturtiums but I do like the look of them in the garden. Too bad I’m always stuck between anemic looking plants and ones that take over the world!

    1. I know what you mean about the plants that take over the world. It looks like you are having similar weather….we have had our average snowfall already…you definitely need to taste them Frank. Very yummy.

  32. Nasturtiums grow wild in my garden. Year after year they come up from the seeds from the year before. I have to pull them out where I don’t want them. My Mum used to talk about how they would make nasturtium sandwiches when she was young. I myself have never tried them. Perhaps I should add a few to my next salad. I wonder what reaction I would get.
    Have a lovely week and thank you for stopping by my blog.

    1. How lucky you are to have them growing wild Jill. I hope maybe they will one day in mine too, but I need to let them seed instead of pulling them out…you definitely need to eat one…I love the flavor.

  33. You hang in there with the weather! And that is fantastic that you start these from seed! They are beautiful! I need to get myself organized for seed planting this spring. Stunning Vase Donna!!! Nicole xo

    1. I keep saying I am so over this weather….it is just the same thing….now if it isn’t snowing or cold, we will be in shock I think….we just laugh now and keep going through the snow.

    1. Thanks Karen….I am sure I will have to organize the sale, but my hubby will be manning the sale. I just do not like these sales.

  34. Hi Donna, sorry I missed seeing this earlier (still catching up). Your vase is spectacular this week. Quite an antidote for your 5 feet of snow. I like the mottled leaves of Begonia medora you chose. I haven’t had any luck growing nasturtiums but I love them–perhaps time to try again.

    1. I hope you are feeling better Susie! Yes the vases have been an antidote. We have had 9 feet so far and that is right on target for us….if you try the nasturtiums again, they prefer cooler weather so early spring and fall may be a better time for your zone. Sending lots of healing energy and hope you are back to 100%!

  35. Hi Donna! Sorry to hear you are having such a bad winter. 12 feet of snow is an awful lot of snow. It’s been a bit rough down here too. Hurry spring! I used to grow nasturtiums when I lived up north but they really don’t do well down here. I have eaten them. A nice spice. Love your amaryllis. I think all four of mine died due to me leaving them outside last fall. One had a bit of green but I just don’t think it will grow. So sad about that. Any color is nice this time of the year.

    You mentioned Bloglovin. Well, I found out somehow my blog got on there and I did not want it there so I had them remove the feed. It took quite a bit of effort so I hope fervently that I don’t have to go thru that again. The last I checked it was not on there and I hope it does not show up on there again-sorry. Not sure why email is giving you a problem.

    1. Tina 12 feet is usual for us but not the constant zero and below zero temps…that has made us house bound. Nasturtiums do like cooler weather.

      Actually I signed up to your blog through email feed and feedproxy….I am still signed up but it does not work for your blog…no emails….it works for other blogs so it will be hard to know when your blog has a new post. Your feed is always out there with Google, Bloglovin’ and Feedly. The last 2 replaced the Google blog lists as they disbanded it.

  36. Nasturtiums never do well for me but they thrive in a friends garden. I don’t think they like our hot/humid summers. Your amaryllis is beautiful! I gave up on amaryllis, too, because my windows are slightly tinted to keep the house cool in the summer and they never received enough light to bloom. Crud….

    1. Yes nasturtiums just do not like too much heat although they are a great early spring fall flower in the south. That is too bad about the amaryllis. Mine thrive in indirect northern facing windows and I am so happy for that.

  37. Whenever I think of nasturtiums I think of that wonderful allee in Monet’s garden. I try to grow them every year, but they never do really well. I think my soil must be to rich for them. One year I did make nasturtium jelly which was quite lovely.

  38. I love the vase! The greenery and the flowers are a perfect complement to each other and the container.

    I think I knew nasturtiums are edible, but I have never tried it. You have given me the idea to plant some around the veggies this year.

    1. This is a favorite vase of mine too Deb….and absolutely add nasturtiums to your early veg garden…then pick the leaves and the flowers and put them in a salad or garnish for a soup. Yummy!

  39. Oh my, you are having an unusually snowy winter! Any tempterature below freezing and we think we are freezing to death. And just let a snowflake fall in here in Houston, and we send out camera crews.
    Anyway, I love nasturtium and grow them in the winter or early, early spring. But I have never used them in salads; need to give that a try.
    Lovely vase!

    1. Florence can you believe that it is a normal winter in terms of snow but brutal in terms of temps because it is the coldest winter on record….but getting plans going for gardens, starting seeds and making vases are helping. Definitely you must try a nasturtium in a salad.

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