Climbing nasturtium plants are the perfect annual flower to grow vertically on fences, trellises, and arches. The vigorous stems grow 5 to 6 feet in length and the flower non-stop from mid-summer until frost. Bees and hummingbirds love the cup-shaped flowers which come in brilliant shades of red, orange, gold, pink, and cream, as well as many bi-colors. The best part? Climbing nasturtiums are super easy to grow in garden beds and containers. Keep reading to learn more about how to plant, grow, and care for climbing nasturtiums plants.
What is a climbing nasturtium?
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) are among the most popular of the annual flowers and beloved for their ease of cultivation and quick growth. The vigorous plants produce masses of large rounded leaves and brightly colored flowers, both of which are edible and delicious. The fragrant, cup-shaped blooms come in shades of reds, oranges, yellows, and creams, as well as pink, apricot, peach, and purple. Many varieties offer bi-colored blooms with splotches or streaks that add another layer of interest to the summer garden.
Nasturtiums are typically has into two categories: mounding and climbing. Mounding nasturtiums form bushy plants that grow about 15 inches tall and wide. Their tidy growth habit makes them ideal as edging plants in raised beds or along pathways, and are also perfect for pots, window boxes, and planters. Climbing, or trailing nasturtiums, on the other hand, have vigorous branches and are often grown up trellises and supports. Or, you can let them wander along the ground as a ground cover. They make an excellent living mulch between crops like corn and tomatoes, shading the soil to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
I plant both mounding and climbing nasturtiums in my large vegetable garden as they add vibrant color to my beds and attract beneficial and pollinating insects like bees, hover flies, and ladybugs, as well as hummingbirds.
All nasturtiums thrive when planted in full sun. You can grow them in part shade, but the stems stretch and become leggy and the plants produce fewer flowers. As for soil, climbing nasturtiums grow well in poor to average soil that is well-draining. There’s no need to go to the of amending and fertilizing garden beds. A very fertile soil results in lush, leafy growth but few nasturtium flowers. The exception is container grown nasturtiums which benefit from feed.
Can you grow climbing nasturtium plants in containers?
Climbing nasturtiums are also ideal for pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets. The key is to select a container that can accommodate the vigorous plants. A 15 to 18 inch diameter pot or hanging basket offers enough room for several climbing nasturtium plants. Also look for a pot with drainage holes as nasturtiums don’t grow well in wet soil. When it’s time to plant, direct sow 4 seeds per pot, eventually thinning to 2 to 3 plants by removing the seedling. You can also transplant a of climbing nasturtium seedlings into each pot.
How to plant climbing nasturtium seeds
Nasturtiums can be direct sown in a garden bed or container when the of frost has passed in mid-spring. The tender plants of frosts so don’t sow the seeds too early. Plant climbing nasturtium seeds a 1/2 inch deep and space them 10 to 12 inches apart at the base of a trellis, fence, or other structure. When growing them up the posts of an obelisk or teepee, plant three seeds at the base of each post, eventually thinning to two seedlings. Once the seeds are sown, water the bed well to encourage germination. Nasturtiums seeds typically sprout in 7 to 10 days.
You can give climbing nasturtiums a head start by sowing the seeds indoors under grow lights or in a sunny window. They need a strong light source to grow well. Sow seeds indoors 4 weeks before you intend to transplant them into the garden. I use 4 inch diameter pots and plant two seeds per pot. seeds a 1/2 inch deep and press soil lightly to ensure good soil-seed contact. Once the seeds sprout, thin to one plant per pot. About a week before transplanting, harden off the seedlings by slowly acclimating them to sunlight and outdoor growing conditions.