Beautiful Beneficial Nasturtium

| 3/5/2018 9:20:00 AM

Tags: companion planting, edible annuals, natural insect control, Rebecca Anne Cole, Maryland,

Orange Nasturtium Flower

Photo Credit Rebecca Anne Cole

Nasturtium, also known as Indian cress, is a climbing annual plant, with vines reaching up to 10 feet in length. The intricate flowers mature into impressive displays of yellow, orange, and red. The dainty flowers, leaves, and green shoots are edible, and have a peppery flavor similar to watercress. Leaves may be used like lettuce, and the vibrant flowers make for a colorful garnish.

I ended up with several packets of nasturtium blend by accident after an online checkout order went awry. I had refreshed the page one too many times to unstick the frozen screen and ended up with multiple orders. Thankfully the page was stuck on the $2.49 nasturtium seed packets and not the elaborate high dollar cucumber trellis I had been wistfully contemplating.

I scattered a few nasturtium seeds in my front garden bed in between sweet potato slips and perennial herbs, then pretty much forgot about them. Once the seeds germinated and the vines began to spread, the round green leaves provided a useful groundcover, acting as an umbrella to shade the waning weeds underneath. The bed required minimal weeding most of the season.

It wasn't until the flowers started to bloom in showy vibrant hues of yellow and orange that I fully appreciated the beauty of the plant. Only afterwards when I did some research on nasturtium did I understand their value in the garden for insect control. Nasturtium are natural repellents to many unwanted garden insects, including beetles, aphids, cabbage worms, and slugs.

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