20 Reasons to Grow this Amazing Herb

Do you grow herbs? They can provide a whole heap of benefits from culinary to medicinal uses and even a splash of colour and fragrance. Some flowering herbs like nasturtiums really earn a special place in the garden because of the added value they provide. So check out these 20 uses for nasturtiums – they may surprise you!

20 reasons to grow nasturtiums

20 reasons to grow nasturtiums

 

Colourful nasturtiums are one herb that’s easy to fall in love with. This plant is an absolute winner in my book. Whilst many think of nasturtiums as just pretty flowers, these attractive herbs have an amazing array of benefits to offer you.

There are several types of nasturtium. The one I can never get enough of in our garden is ‘Tropaeolum majus’ (commonly known as Indian Cress).  Not ‘Nasturtium Officinale’ that grows in water and is often referred to as watercress!

 

Nasturtiums – More than just a pretty face!

Aside from stealing the limelight in any garden with their dazzling display of colour, nasturtiums are one of the most multi-functional plants you can grow.

Nasturtiums look great growing in a pot or in the garden. They’re definitely on my “Great Value Plants to Grow List”.

Nasturtiums look great growing in a pot or in the garden. They’re definitely on my “Great Value Plants to Grow List”.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums

I’m so thrilled with this plant. I just have to share 20 uses for nasturtiums that I’ve learned about these decorative ‘quiet achievers.’

  • 1. Nasturtiums are edible:  Not only do they look good, but they taste great too – in fact, you can eat the ENTIRE plant! The leaves have a slightly warm peppery flavour similar to watercress. The flowers are milder and the seeds, though hot and fragrant, are edible too. (More about that later!)  A word of warning however, never eat any flower or plant that has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals!
20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtium flower salad with 7 greens

Whilst the root or tuber of this particular variety is not suitable for eating, Tropaeolum tuberosum (tuberous nasturtium) is grown for the delicious tuber and CAN be eaten raw like a radish or cooked as you would a potato.

 

  • 2. Nasturtiums are rich in minerals: The leaves are high in vitamin C, iron and other minerals and the flowers are plentiful in vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C and also contain manganese, iron, phosphorus and calcium.
  • 3. Pest repellent: These herbs work in several ways to deter pests. Nasturtiums mask the scent of plants that are commonly targeted by pests, disguise the leaves of food plants that pests are looking for and actively repel certain pests and attract others as a trap crop.  They pack a real punch by secreting a mustard oil that some insects are attracted to.  (More about this in a future post!)

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Interplanting with nasturtiums like in these strawberry pots helps confuse pests.

Interplanting with nasturtiums like in these strawberry pots helps confuse pests.

 

Nasturtiums “secrete an essence into the soil, which is absorbed by other plants, helping them to resist attack by pests and disease.” – Isabell Shipard’s wonderful herb book ‘How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?’


 

  • 4. Medicinal health benefits: The leaves have powerful antibiotic, antimicrobial, antioxidant and general tonic actions, aid digestion and have apparently been found to be effective against some microorganisms that are resistant to common antibiotics, help prevent and relieve coughs, colds and flu and eating 3 seeds daily helps build up resistance to viruses, colds and measles. One leaf eaten per hour as soon as you get a sore throat, can drastically reduce the severity of the infection. It is also used as an expectorant, anti-fungal and antiseptic. (Are you getting the picture why I love this herb so much?)

 

“I am using the nasturtiums almost daily now I’ve realised their many health benefitsHerb guru, Isabell Shipard recommended eating 3 fresh leaves 3 times a day a few months ago when I had a cough that just wouldn’t disappear for over a month.  I only managed 3 leaves twice for one day and the cough went overnight!  I was really impressed – I put this down to the fast working antibiotic action in the plant.”

 

  • 5. Companion plants: According to the useful book ‘Permaculture Plants’ nasturtiums also make great companion plants to turnips, radishes, cucumbers and zucchini.
  • 6. Nasturtium flowers attract beneficial insects: The sweet nectar in the flower attracts helpful pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, hoverflies (that feed on pests) and nectar eating birds.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: A bee playing hide and seek inside a Nasturtium flower.

This bee’s looking for lunch and playing hide and seek inside a Nasturtium flower.

 

  • 7. Great value space fillers for frugal gardeners: A healthy plant can cover three square metres so you save heaps by not having to buy lots of other plants to cover the same space.
  • 8. Cheerful cut flowers: Pick them and pop in a vase on your dining table or kitchen bench – with their attractive foliage they make a pretty edible arrangement. They keep well in water but even better, eat them or use as a garnish with each meal and then replenish from your garden! The bright green rounded leaves are just as attractive as the flowers.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: As table decorations, just float a few nasturtium blossoms in a bowl.

As table decorations, just float a few nasturtium blossoms in a bowl.

 

  • 9. Nasturtiums are long flowering: These annual prolific bloomers provide great value flowering for prolonged periods most of the year until frost.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums add colour for months and months - love these ones growing under my palms in semi-shade.

Nasturtiums add colour for months and months – love these ones growing under my palms in semi-shade.

 

  • 10. Dead easy to grow: This carefree, humble herb thrives on neglect … so lazy gardeners take note!
  • 11. Heaps of free seeds: You get a huge number of new nasturtium plants from just one!  When the flower dies off, a seed head forms. If you don’t pick and save these, they will voluntarily drop to the ground and self sow.


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  • 12. Colourful: Nasturtiums have to be one of the most cheerful flowers to have in your garden. Some varieties have variegated leaves so you can enjoy stripey white and green colours as well.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: The edible flowers taste as good as they look!

Nasturtium flowers come in a wide range of yellows, gold, creamy whites, oranges, and reds and even variegated leaf varieties.

 

  • 13. Living Mulch/Ground Cover: Because of the profuse leaf growth, nasturtiums make a wonderful mulch if you chop and drop it around your plants. Or grow nasturtiums as a ground cover to shade your soil and reduce moisture loss. Nasturtiums will break down and decompose at the end of their life, adding nutrients to your soil.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums make excellent living mulch under trees

Especially useful under fruit or feature trees where they can be grown as a living carpet of mulch producing lots of leaves where soil is well fertilised. To the left we have used them as a filler around a large leopard tree just outside the kitchen – close for harvesting and pretty colour to look out on.

 

  • 14. Fast flowers and living artwork: Nasturtium plants grow quickly and are a great choice for covering a horizontal or vertical area in a short space of time.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums in a hanging basket on an arbor.

Nasturtiums are a great choice for spectacular hanging baskets – they willingly trail up or down!

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums fan out up a timber board making a quirky display.

Living artwork: Trailed up a vertical structure, these pretty flowers can hide an ugly fence or space and be the star attraction or backdrop for other features or plants in your garden.

 

  • 15. Nasturtiums as a flavour improver: This herb is an excellent companion for many plants, improving their growth and flavour.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtium & radishes=great companions!

To enhance the taste of your radishes and make them a little hotter, plant nasturtiums nearby!

 

  • 16. Great garnish: Both nasturtium leaves and flowers make pretty garnishes on any plate.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtium capers with sashimi & salad

Kids love them so encourage them to decorate your plates creatively! Here you can see Nasturtium capers (made from the seeds) with a sashimi salad – a feast for the eyes!

 

  • 17. Weed out weeds: Once established, the thick cover of nasturtium leaves and flowers will provide enough shade to overcome most weed competition.

 

20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums used as a ground cover under trees for weed management.

A clever strategy is to use nasturtiums as a ground cover under trees for weed management.

 

  • 18. Poultry pharmacy: Discerning chooks will benefit from the strongly antiseptic and medicinal properties in the leaves. Given a chance your chickens will snack on the seeds and self-medicate. This herb is a vermifuge (de-wormer) so is good to use for worming your chickens. Nasturtiums are also great for chooks with nervous ailments and depression. Yes – they do have feelings! The strong scent also repels annoying insect pests. Toss them in with your chicken’s regular feed.
  • 19. Fragrant flowers: The light spicy fragrance provides a delicate scent, especially planted near a seating area.
  • 20. Make beautiful pressed flowers: This is a whole other subject. If you are crafty or have children, making your own wrapping paper, cards and other craft is a great way to preserve the beauty of these lovely flowers and leaves.
20 Uses for Nasturtiums: Press Nasturtium flowers between 2 layers of waxed paper lightly with a low iron to gently seal together & make your own decorative wrapping paper.

Press Nasturtium flowers between 2 layers of waxed paper lightly with a low iron to gently seal together & make your own decorative wrapping paper.

 

Like this idea?  Watch how to press your flowers here:

 

For more great information on Nasturtiums and other amazing herbs for health, food and medicine check out Isabell Shipard’s wonderful herb book How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?’ or read How to Grow & Use Nasturtiums.

Did you enjoy these 20 uses for nasturtiums? If you’re like me and love plants that are really worth their weight in gold in your garden, plant nasturtiums!  You may just find yourself falling in love with them like I have.


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Interested in more articles about herbs?  Check out the How to Grow articles for more ideas.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2016. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

Comments

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12 Comments

  1. Glenna Boutilier March 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    I get so much pleasure when “The Micro Gardener” comes in my email. Wonderful and so very useful articles, plans, etc. There’s just too many great things to list. Thanks so much and I look forward to many more years of the Micro Gardener 🙂

    • Anne Gibson March 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Glenna for your feedback! Glad you love the newsletters and find them useful. Lots more tips planned for next month’s issue.

  2. shawn odneal March 31, 2012 at 2:31 am - Reply

    What an amazing web site.. My cousin recommended I check this out and I’m soooo happy. This herb is a great idea, anywhere. I own a sustainable garden center in Chicago Illinois, called Root 66 Aquaponics and I think we just found the next plant to grow in our “Living-Wall” we call the “Harvest Wall”.

    • The Micro Gardener March 31, 2012 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Thanks Shawn. Would love to see a photo of your Harvest Wall. Sounds neat! Enjoy planting your nasturtiums. 🙂

  3. Alison November 17, 2011 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Hi Anne

    I’ve been looking forward to your piece on nasturtiums as they’re an all-time favourite of mine too. A few weeks ago, I planted two pots with nasturtium root pieces from my main nasturtium bed. One pot is on top of an ugly bit of wall that I want to hide, and the other is at the bottom. I’ve propped an old piece of green webbed plastic up the wall, and can’t wait for the nasturtiums to grow up and down to meet each other.

    Thanks for the idea of using a hanging basket too. I’m gradually getting rid of purely decorative plants in favour of those that are useful as well.

    One question, at what stage can I remove seeds from my mature plants in order to replant them? And, can I put them directly into their new place, or grow them first in a ‘nursery’ environment?

    Alison.

    • The Micro Gardener November 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Alison

      Great to hear about your creative nasturtium ‘up’ and ‘down’ grow project – what a great idea!

      The more I garden, the more I realise that multi-functional plants are the way to go. They really earn their place and give back so much.

      Good question about the seeds – more detailed specifics about how to grow nasturtiums and how to use the different parts of the plants in an upcoming post … but the short answer is when the seeds are mature they will drop off the plant naturally and will turn from pale green to brown as they dry out. You can gather up any already on the ground and replant them (or save them for planting later). Or you can harvest those that are large and ready to fall. You can tell this by holding one hand under the seed head and with your fingers on the other hand gently rubbing the seeds. If they fall into your hand they are ready – if not, they are not mature and ready for planting yet. Green seeds have other uses … more on that soon!

      No need to sow into a plant ‘nursery’ unless you have trouble with slugs that are likely to make a meal of baby seedlings or the weather is going to be harsh. Just sow where you want them to grow but make sure you keep them moist so they germinate. Suggest soaking them in seaweed solution overnight to facilitate the germination process. You can always add some crushed eggshells or a plastic sleeve around the seedlings to protect them as they grow.

      Hope this helps … keep me posted with the results!

      Happy growing,
      Anne

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