Name: Tropaeolum majus – aka nasturtium
Type of Plant: A warm weather annual that is the definition of cheerful. There are trailing varieties that are perfect for growing as an “understory annuals” around the stems of taller plants like zinnias, salvia and dahlias. And there are compact varieties for smaller spaces or containers. Best grown in full sun in this climate.
Why I love this plant: Why do I love this plant so much? I already mentioned that these are charming but it’s one of the easiest plants to grow from seed because you just stick the seeds into the ground in late May…no fuss but do make sure to keep the soil a bit damp while they germinate.
Secondly, the flowers and foliage are stylish – and the leaves can catch dew and raindrops and display them like diamonds in the morning or after a storm.
Third – both the leaves and flowers are edible and delicious! There isn’t a single day between late June and hard frost when my husband and I don’t pick nasturtium leaves and flowers for our salad. I toss the flowers on top of pizza two minutes before taking it out of the oven. A nasturtium martini is delicious and you don’t know great fish tacos until you’ve tried them with nasturtiums inside instead of lettuce.
A Word to the Wise: Plant in well drained soil and don’t be too concerned if you see aphids. They usually disappear quickly. And if they are happy, your nasturtiums just might become party crashers in your yard and garden as mine are…