NASTURTIUM (nas-tur’-shum). The garden name for the genus Tropaeolum, which includes climbing and dwarf herbs from South America with showy red, orange or yellow, funnel-shaped flowers consisting of 5 separate petals, the sepals produced into a long spur containing nectar.

Tropaeolum majus, the species most widely grown, is an annual with fleshy stems, shield-shaped leaves, and bright blossoms which are produced continuously throughout the summer. The flowers and foliage make pleasing cut-flower arrangements, especially in clear glass bowls.

Seed is sown in the open in the spring, or earlier in a hotbed or in pots or boxes in the house. The plants will bloom most prolifically if given a rather poor soil in a North exposure.

Nasturtiums may suffer from a bacterial wilt common also on tomatoes, egg-plant, potatoes and peppers, so they should not be grown in soil where any of those plants have previously been attacked by wilt. Destroy diseased plants and sterilize the soil.

An almost inevitable pest of this plant seems to be the black bean aphid, which infests the stems and undersides of the leaves, curling and distorting them. Spray or dust with a contact insecticide (which see) as soon as the first aphid is seen. Leaf miners may make serpentine tunnels in the leaves. Destroy infested leaves.

While Tropaeolum snafus is naturally a climber, its var. namun (Tom Thumb Nasturtium) is a dwarf hybrid which has proved excellent for edging a border. Tropaeolum minus is a naturally dwarf form with smaller flowers and leaves than in Tropaeolum mains.

Many horticultural varieties, showing most attractive colors, have been developed from both species, among them atropurpureum, deep crimson; coccineunt, brilliant scarlet; and hemisphericuns and luleum, yellow. Within the last few years a double-flowered nasturtium, called by the originator Golden Gleam, has created a great deal of interest. Even more recently, the doubling of flowers has been extended from the original yellow to many varieties in red and orange. The flowers, which are fragrant, are produced on plants throwing out only a few trailing branches. These new hybrids are as easily grown as the single nasturtium, but as some produce no seed they must be increased by cuttings.

Garden nasturtiums in England are known as Indian-cress, and often the seeds and leaves are pickled commercially and labeled with that name.

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
Sign Up For My Free Daily Newsletter

We will never share your email address period.

{ 0 comments… add one now }