Planting nasturtiums is a wonderful way to bring splashes of vibrant color and edible flowers to your garden. I’ve found these cheerful blooms not only enhance the aesthetic of my garden space but also add a peppery zest to salads. When it comes to planting nasturtium seeds in Zone 7, timing is crucial. The key to successful nasturtium growth lies in understanding the local frost dates and ensuring the soil has warmed sufficiently.

Nasturtium seeds being planted in rich, well-drained soil in early spring. The sun is shining and the gardener is carefully sowing the seeds at the appropriate depth

💥 Quick Answer

Based on my experience, the best time to plant nasturtium seeds in Zone 7 is two weeks after the last spring frost when soil temperatures have consistently reached at least 55°F.

Nasturtiums prefer warmer conditions and planting too early can expose them to late frosts, which can hinder germination or damage young seedlings. I make sure to sow the seeds about half an inch deep, directly into the garden, spacing them roughly 10 inches apart to allow for adequate spreading. Nasturtium seeds typically germinate within 7 to 10 days after planting, provided they have the right soil temperature and are kept moist. My experience has shown that full sunlight and well-draining soil will produce the best flowering results, though nasturtiums can also tolerate partial shade.

Selecting the Right Nasturtium Varieties

When planting nasturtiums in Zone 7, choosing the right variety is essential for a vibrant and flourishing garden. Let’s explore both trailing and dwarf types, as well as the diverse color spectrum available.

The Appeal of Trailing and Dwarf Types

Trailing nasturtiums like ‘Jewel of Africa’ and classics such as ‘Empress of India’ offer an unrivaled cascade of foliage and flowers, superb for climbing trellises or spilling over containers. Their lengthy vines can add dramatic effect to garden landscapes. On the other hand, dwarf or bush-type nasturtiums grow in compact mounds and are excellent for edging or filling small garden spaces where ground cover is desired.

Types of Nasturtiums
Trailing Types Jewel of Africa, Empress of India
Dwarf/Bush Types Peach Melba, Jewel Mix

Striking Colors: From Orange to Red and Beyond

Nasturtiums boast a rich palette, including the fiery orange of the ‘Empress of India’ and the soft yellow of the dwarf ‘Peach Melba’. My experience in Zone 7 has taught me that nasturtiums provide not only captivating hues but also a peppery taste for edible flower enthusiasts. The ‘Jewel Mix’ can offer a variety of colors in one single planting, which allows for a brilliant and colorful display throughout the garden.

Common Nasturtium Colors:
  • Orange: Classic and vibrant, perfect for a bold statement.
  • Red: Deep hues for a dramatic touch.
  • Yellow: Cheerful and bright, ideal for lifting spirits.
  • Peach Melba: A subtle and unique color variety.

Cultivating Nasturtiums for Any Garden

Nasturtiums are a vibrant addition to any garden, with easy-to-grow attributes that suit gardeners of all experience levels. I’ll guide you through the soil and sunlight needs as well as planting tips for a flourishing display.

Soil and Sunlight Needs for Optimal Growth

Nasturtiums thrive in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. They perform best when they receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, but in hot climates, they appreciate some afternoon shade. For the best blooms, more sun is generally better.

These plants are not fussy about soil quality; in fact, they grow well in poorer soils. However, for healthy growth, I always ensure the soil is well-drained. Overly rich soil can lead to more foliage than flowers, so I avoid adding extra fertilizer unless the soil is extremely poor.

Planting Tips for Ground Cover and Containers

When I plant nasturtiums, I consider their growth habit. These versatile plants can be cultivated as a ground cover or in containers like window boxes and hanging baskets.

💥 For ground cover, I sow the seeds directly into the garden bed, ensuring they’re about half an inch deep in the soil. Nasturtiums have large seeds, which makes them easy to handle and plant. I space the seeds about 10 inches apart because they need room to spread.

In containers, they can add an ornamental touch with their cascading foliage and blooms. I use well-draining pots and place them where they can get the adequate sun. When growing nasturtiums indoors, I also make sure they have enough light, often placing them in a south-facing window. To prevent transplant shock, I prefer using biodegradable pots when starting them indoors, and I transplant them carefully to their final outdoor location after the last spring frost.

Maintaining Healthy Plants and Maximizing Blooms

In my gardening experience, the wellbeing of nasturtiums hinges on proper watering, feeding, and timely pest control—especially in Zone 7, where the climate can influence these factors significantly.

Watering, Feeding, and Preventing Pests

Nasturtiums are generally easy to grow and drought-tolerant; hence, I ensure my trusty watering can visits them only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to fewer blooms and promote fungal diseases.

When it comes to feeding, nasturtiums thrive on neglect! Too much fertilizer will encourage lush green leaves at the expense of vibrant blooms.

As for pests like aphids, a watchful eye and prompt intervention with water sprays or insecticidal soap usually keep my nasturtiums unbothered. Preventing pests is crucial, as they can hinder plant health and subsequent flowering.

Pruning and Care Throughout the Seasons

Pruning nasturtiums in Zone 7 is straightforward. I snip off faded or dead flowers to encourage more blooms and prune back any overgrown sections to promote air circulation. This way, the plants remain compact and less susceptible to pests.

💥 Regular deadheading and selective pruning are my go-to for fostering abundant nasturtium flowers throughout the growing season.

Plants will naturally germinate and establish themselves during the appropriate planting windows for Zone 7, but appropriate care throughout their life cycle will certainly enhance their performance and beauty.

Harvesting and Utilizing Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are a vibrant and versatile addition to the garden, and when it’s time to harvest, both their peppery leaves and edible flowers can elevate culinary dishes. Seeds are easily collected at the end of the growing season for next year’s planting.

Incorporating Nasturtiums into Culinary Creations

The leaves and flowers of nasturtiums offer a peppery taste similar to arugula, making them perfect for adding a spicy kick to salads. The bright flowers not only add a pop of color but also a unique zesty flavor that can enhance the presentation and taste of various dishes.

💥 Flavor Pairings:

  • Pasta dishes: Toss whole or chopped nasturtium leaves for a peppery twist.
  • Salads: Use the leaves and flowers to create an eye-catching, flavorful salad.
  • Sweet desserts: Garnish cupcakes or puddings with petals for unexpected heat and beauty.

The unripe seeds can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers, adding a piquant flavor to sauces and dressings, perfect for those who enjoy DIY condiments.

Collecting Seeds for Next Season’s Garden

Toward the end of the fall, after the last frost, nasturtiums will produce seeds that can be harvested for the next spring planting. Monitor your plants for seed pods that fall to the ground; these are your future plants.

Seed Collection Steps:

  1. Pick seeds once they are large, plump, and beginning to turn from green to brown.
  2. Spread them out on a paper towel to dry, away from direct sunlight.
  3. Store dried seeds in a paper bag, placed in a cool, dark location to ensure viability for spring planting.

Allowing seeds to dry thoroughly is vital for preventing mold and ensuring they germinate next season.

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