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NASTURTIUMS

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Some plants like to be pampered. Others prefer a hands-off approach. Nasturtiums thrive on neglect. Just give them a sunny spot in poor, dry soil.

 

These vivacious plants feel at home in hot color gardens. Numerous yellow, orange, and red flowering varieties are available. For other color schemes, soft pastels are available.

In the landscape, nasturtiums have many uses. They’re valuable additions to flower beds and borders. When you’re creating your container plantings, include some nasturtiums. These jewels of summer always look their best. Even when they aren’t in bloom, the intriguing bluish-green foliage can add a spark of interest to any planting.

Bird lovers everywhere will be pleased to know that nasturtiums attract hummingbirds.

If you’re looking for plants with unusual scents, this is the one. Both the foliage and blooms have a characteristic fragrance.

This herb belongs in the edible landscape. The pungent, peppery blooms are often added to salads, and used as a colorful garnish. The seed pods are sometimes pickled as a condiment.

So far as size and growth habit are concerned, you should choose the variety that best fits your particular needs. Most nasturtiums are about a foot in height with a two foot spread. But the climbing varieties are an exception. If provided with proper support, these can be 6 feet in height.

Usually nasturtium plants are available at garden centers. I prefer to grow mine from seed, since they don’t always tolerate transplanting as well as some other annuals.

In flowerbeds and borders, direct sowing is easy to do. The same is true for containers. For mixed container gardens, I just stick the seed in the potting soil after I’ve inserted the other plants. Nasturtiums grow so quickly that they’re established in no time.

If you’re short on time, these plants are an excellent choice. They’re very undemanding, and require very little water. When you’re creating container plantings, interplant them with other drought-tolerant herbs, such as helichrysums, rosemary, and lavender.

Regarding insect and disease problems, I’ve never noticed nasturtiums are affected by these.

When it comes right down to it, nasturtiums are just plain fun to grow. That makes them very suitable for children’s gardens. Kids will find the large seed are easy to handle. This flower is fool-proof, fast growing, and quick to bloom, attributes that children will appreciate.

Though nasturtiums were originally perennials in South America, they’re usually treated as annuals, and discarded after the first frost.

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