Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Variegated Nasturtium September 20, 2008

I seem to be one of the few folks who can’t figure out how to reliably grow nasturtiums. Every year, I either sprout the seeds or direct sow them, and nearly every year most of the plants fail. This year, some did okay, but others stayed miniscule, like this one.

Teeny variegated nasturtium

I should have put something in to show the scale, but it’s barely 3 inches across, as opposed to others from the same seed packet that grew to span nearly a foot with many showy orange or yellow blooms. The tiny blossoms of the fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) visible in the photo give at least some idea – they are probably no more than 1/2 inch wide themselves. I have no problems growing that plant, it wants to take over the entire garden!

I’ve heard that nasturtiums don’t like too much water and don’t care if the soil is fair to poor, but that doesn’t explain my troubles – several were planted in the exact same bed but the results were completely different.

I liked the variegation concept initially but then, on the plants that looked less healthy, it was hard to tell from a distance which parts were light by design and which were just sickliness showing.

I love this cheerful plant with its bright, edible flowers and rambling habit, but can’t seem to get it right. Does anyone have any hints?


6 Responses to “Variegated Nasturtium”

  1. Racquel Says:

    No tips for you sorry. I’ve grown this in the past & didn’t have any trouble with it that I recall. Maybe too much water?

  2. Cynthia Says:

    At times nasturtiums can be finicky for me too. Don’t really know why though. In fact I have some planted in a bed that are doing great and then I have two that are planted in a half barrel and they look just like your picture. You’ve got me thinking and wondering now……

    It must be the soil. That is all I can think of. I do not know if they like acid or alkaline. I wonder if it has something to do with that. Too much fertilizer makes them all lanky so it must not be that. Interesting thought to ponder. It’s going to keep me wondering.

  3. Pam Says:

    I think it might be something to do with our weather this year too. Mine came back from seeds and are just now starting to bloom. They have not really taking off like they have in the past.

  4. Megan Says:

    I haven’t grown them but my tip is to cultivate a rare dwarf nasturtium from your efforts. People like me would be all over that.

  5. Anna Says:

    Mine don’t like to dry out–be too wet, pout when the temps get too high, and prefer filtered light all day long. Phew!, what a baby huh? I didn’t have as many blooms this year as usual. Our summer and spring were too hot. They dried out a few times and it takes them forever to recover from that. Not sure if I’ll keep growing them. I do love the look–old fashioned.

  6. greenwalks Says:

    Racquel –

    The plants all got pretty much the same (low) amount of water, so I’m afraid that doesn’t explain why some grew well and others didn’t. Weird, huh?


    Cynthia –

    Some in the same small bed fared differently, so that can’t be it either. Mystery!


    Pam –

    Well, at least I’m not the only one having this issue. That’s somewhat comforting, anyway!


    Anna –

    I had thought of them as an easy-grow plant but as you say, they seem to be kind of picky. Maybe I will try them in pots next year and see if that helps me do a better job.

    – Karen

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