Story and Photography by Yvonne Lelong Bordelon
Old-fashioned nasturtiums are perfect for Louisiana’s cool seasons. In North Louisiana, the attractive edible beauties can be enjoyed from early spring through summer. In South Louisiana, this flowering cook’s delight can be grown from fall through spring during mild winters.
Vining varieties are happy on fences, trellises, or mounding out of large pots. The compact varieties make beautiful additions to landscapes and are excellent in winter containers.
This colorful, peppery tasting flowering herb sports flavorful blooms, leaves, buds, and seeds. If you plan to eat these beauties, be sure to grow them organically, without using pesticides. Good edible companion plants include violets and pansies (Viola spp.), leaf lettuce, calendula (Calendula officinalis) and chives (Allium schoenoprasum).
Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Nasturtium
Botanical Name: Tropaeolum majus (vining), T. minus (bush)
Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: Vining – Jewel of Africa mix (yellow, red, cream, and pink blooms, variegated leaves); Tall Trailing mix (rose, yellow, orange blooms). Bush – Tip Top Alaska mix (yellow, crimson, orange, cherry, and salmon blooms, variegated leaves; Whirlybird mix (cream, salmon, gold, and cherry rose semi-double blooms)
Zone(s): Annual in all zones; perennial in 9-10
Color: Reds, oranges, yellows, and cream
Blooming Period: Fall through early summer
Type: Edible herbaceous perennial
Mature Size: Vining, 3-8 feet; bush, less than 12 inches
Exposure: Full sun, late afternoon shade in South Louisiana
When to Plant: Fall to early spring
How to Plant: Direct sow seeds 10-12 inches apart in poor to average, cool, moist, well-drained soil; water regularly.
When to Prune: Deadhead or pick flowers for salads to prolong blooms
When to Fertilize: Use a little compost when planting, rich soil will reduce the number of blooms.
In Your Landscape: Nasturtiums are striking, edible, cool-weather plants that are easy to start from seed.