Growing nasturtiums in Oklahoma can be a bit tricky. Not the fault of this perky annual, I assure you. But its happy season can be short, often limited to spring and periods of fall because of our inhospitable heat. They are difficult to transplant and leaf miners do find them tasty....but WAIT! I was going to tell you why you simply MUST, at least once in your life, grow this old-fashioned annual. Because when they ARE happy, in small numbers like mine, or large numbers like Monet at Giverny here, they will delight in a way nothing else in the garden can.
I have mine planted in three tall pots (and in the ground surrounding them) that sit in the cutting garden of the potager...you can see them below peaking out from under the bamboo tuteur precociously cheering up the garden and contemplating their plans to spill over the edge and scamper down the sides. I plant them somewhere every year, and here are my
Top 5 Reasons to Grow Nasturtiums.
(Though no doubt there are many others...)
#1 Their lily-pad looking leaves are as amusing and appealing as their flowers. In fact, I posted the image below on Instagram yesterday
(follow me here as potagerblog on Instagram), and a follower said that she feels it's worth growing for its foliage alone. I do not argue with her on this.
The unique, wavy-round leaves is a wonderful gray/green (and one of my favorite hues in the garden) that
perch enchantingly on long wiry stems. Like an eager student in class feverishly waving their hand to get the teacher's attention, so does the nasturtium charmingly raise its leaves to the gardener, shouting
"Look at ME; look at ME!"
Their papery thing delicacy makes then magnificent when backlit by the sun...
and also the perfect textural counterpoint to cut leafed dusty miller or the ferny foliage of larkspur or dill. Some of the same reasons that they
#2 Are perfect additions to your vase and cut flower arrangements.
(Notice how their hue is the exact color as the foliage of the columbine leaf; another favorite of mine...) Their long stems are easy to tuck into an arrangement, and the color....ooh that color.....seems to enhance any shade you put with it, but, along with its sunny colored flowers, especially...
#3 the Color Purple, (and maybe my all time favorite color pop in the garden).
Any friend of the color purple in the garden is a friend of mine. Be it of allium, iris or larkspur origin.
The orange ones are my favorite, but I usually plant a mix, because I am also fond of the bright yellow and deep orangey red ones that climb.
And they are ESPECIALLY fun because
#4 They are edible and look and taste wonderful in a fresh leafy green salad
In fact, Thomas Jefferson grew them in his famous garden at Monticello (buy them at the Monticello Shop HERE) and would surprise and charm his dinner guests by including their peppery taste in his salads. Finally, and this reason shouldn't be taken lightly....
#5 They are a great 'gateway flower' seed for children who are developing an interest in gardening.
The seeds are large, wrinkly and corky. Perfect for small, inexperienced fingers and hands that find smaller seeds awkward to handle. I mean these are IMPRESSIVE seeds to a child. Have them soak them overnight to soften the tough exterior before planting and speed up germination. Plant them early in the season; I planted mine in late February. But now is not too late, so go for it. In the warm soil they will germinate more quickly and you should still have time to enjoy them before the intense heat moves in.....They flag in really hot conditions. Also, don't overfeed them...they will put out leaves at the expense of flowers (though that isn't necessarily a bad thing to me ).When they do flower, kids will take great delight in a flower that is not only pretty, but that you can eat!
Should they start to look tired, brown and wilty when hot temps arrive, cut them back and keep your fingers crossed that they will hold on till fall and be happy again. If they get leaf miners, I largely ignore them if the problem isn't excessive. If it is, I pinch off the leaves and may spray with Neem Oil. I don't plant in enough abundance to worry about pests too much.
Today's Takeaway Tip: This easy charming flower is a cinch to grow...at least once in a gardener's life they should experience the absolute delight of growing the humble nasturtium.
Labels: foliage, kid friendly gardening, Monticello, nasturtiums, orange, seeds