Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cup Of Nas'tea' anyone?

Oh the joy of a pot o’ Nasties! 
The fragrance, the color, the country charm of these enduring, grow-anywhere, and drought tolerant plants should endear themselves to any gardener! Their spicy-pepper, yet sweet aroma has ensnared me, hook-line and stinker sinker! I just love little bouquets of them popped into a small vase on my kitchen counter. I might be forgiven to be found inhaling their uniqueness with a rather foolish smile upon my face.
Here in sandy, South Florida, I just sow the seeds all over the place and they have popped up without any soil improvement. Having said that, they seem to generate more flowers with soil amendment, in potting soil that drains well, and watered occasionally with a weak Miracle Grow solution, but only when soil is dry.

The humble Nasturtium is considered by many to be an herb. Both the leaves and the flowers of Nasturtiums are reported to be edible, with a peppery taste that lends itself to addition in a mixed salad or vegetable dish. I have read of some accounts where folks stuff the flowers with cream cheese. Here is a link to a web site for some Nasturtium recipes. I think I will give the vinegar recipe a whirl.
Nasturtiums’ repel aphids. Vegetable gardeners can tuck them away with your peppers, tomats, cucumbers, and just about anywhere you can squeeze them in. Since the aroma of the leaves and flowers is both long lasting and easily absorbed by a water or vinegar solution, I might just put my mad scientist hat on and see whether I can make a solution from the plant material to rid my Sweet Mini Pepper plant of the aphids I discovered this morning - more on this in a future blog.
Varieties of Nasturtiums I have include: Fordhook (Capuchina), distributed by the Burpee seed company. Fordhook produces fragrant, single flowers in many colors, is a climbing variety of up to 6 feet in hight, full sun/partial shade, and is very attractive to hummingbirds. 
A "Jewel" Indeed
Then there is Jewel (distributed by Ferry-Morse). Blooms are semi-doubled and slightly ruffled with stand out colors of yellow, orange and scarlet, seen here as the top yellow flower. Jewel is no wallflower either! The flower head is held well above the leaves. According to Ferry-Morse, Jewel makes a good edging and planter-box flower. I grow mine in a large wicker basket in the garden and they come back year after year. 
"Scarlet Gleam" Leaves Above Petunias
Also by FM is Scarlet Gleam, with big-orange-red flowers and bushy appearance. This Nastie is recommended for hanging baskets, and also for borders. Here is a picture of my hanging basket that I eagerly await some flowers of Scarlet Gleam to appear in.
Nasturtiums germinate from seed faster by nicking the seed. My method is just putting them in a jug of warm water overnight and then planting them the next day. They reseed profusely and I collect as many still-green, seed pods as I can, and dry them on paper towels.
Here in Florida they do really well during the cooler months of November through to our baking hot, late June, when they stop producing flowers and wither away. They won’t tolerate the humid 90 + degree heat and the prolific, amount of rain, which makes their roots soggy.
Thompson & Morgan, Inc. (, stocks a double Nasturtium with a hardiness zone 10-11 - “Double Delight Apricot.” I think I might have to find some room for it!
For more information on Nasturtiums, I found this video online.


  1. Dawn, have you tried pickled Nasturtium seeds? They are allegedly very like Capers.

  2. Hi Mark, No I have not tried that yet. My best bet would be to try and harvest some from the hanging baskets - since they are above the dogs' "pee line."


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