Tropaeolum majus L. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Tropaeolum. Both the genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-16-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 94 species in the Tropaeolum genus. It is a member of the plant family Tropaeolaceae with only one genus. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
Although Tropaeolum majus came from Peru, reports indicate it does not grow in the wild and is only found as cultivated plants. The species is possibly a hybrid between Tropaeolum ferreyrae and Tropaeolum minor. Nasturtiums have become naturalized in several parts of the world where the climate is ideal for them.
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I always liked Nasturtiums from way back in the early 1980’s when I first moved to the farm after my grandfather passed away. I moved away in 1987 and didn’t grow them again until I moved to Minnesota in 2007. I grew several cultivars and the Nasturtium ‘Jewel’ grew long, fleshy, trailing stems. I didn’t think they were supposed to do that, but they did. Anyway, I went to work for a retired holistic doctor from California in 2008 who bought a mansion in Mississippi. She passed away in March 2009 but I stayed at the mansion until February 2013 going through probate. While I was at the mansion, I started collecting plants and blogging. I took A LOT of photos…
Anyway, while I was in Leland I grew several cultivars of Nasturtiums including ‘Jewel Mixed, ‘King Theodore’, ‘Tall Trailing’, and ‘Yeti’.
Nasturtiums are very easy to grow and are fairly low-maintenance plants. They prefer soil with average too low fertility. Fertilization or fertile soils tend to increase foliage production but decrease flower production. I think the soil in the backyard in Mississippi had a high nitrogen content because certain plants grew larger than normal but took a while to flower. I planted LOADS of green beans but harvested very few beans… The Okra produced like mad, though. I am not sure what all I used in the planters for the Nasturtiums (since it is 2021 when I am writing this page), but it was likely a mixture of Miracle Grow Potting soil and soil from the back yard.
Seriously, the Nasturtiums really didn’t “get with it”. It may have been because they needed more light as well. After growing them in Minnesota, I guess I expected them to do the same in Mississippi. Well, needless to say, I was a newbie to southern gardening… I am more familiar with the climate in Missouri. Now, I will admit, I did use AlgoFlash Fertilizer in Minnesota so I also tried it in Mississippi. I still did not similar results… Yeah, it may be true fertilizer is not that good for Nasturtiums, so why did they do so good in Minnesota? That remains a mystery.
The stems on the Nasturtiums were very spindly and every week I would have to remove the dead leaves to keep the planters looking tidy.
The best thing about Mississippi was that it didn’t “F” until December. Now, I had just started collecting plants in 2009, but the mansion had five sunrooms to fill up. 🙂 By the time I sold the mansion and moved back to Missouri in 2013 I had close to 300 pots… I gave away around 200 when I moved…
The front of the mansion had a 40′ long porch with a sunroom at one end (with doors). I moved most of the plants into that sunroom when temps got cool and I could put them on the front porch on nice days. Believe it or not, I put the planters of Nasturtiums in the sunroom as well. The above photo, and several below, were taken on December 16, 2009. The date stamp is wrong… I must have screwed with the settings and didn’t realize the date stamp was even showing up until I uploaded the photos on the computer… Live and learn, huh?
The ‘Jewel’ did pretty well in the ground but the flowers were only orange. The ‘Tall Trailing’ had a wide range of colors typical to Nasturtiums…
When I had to go through probate, for some reason the insurance company wanted me to remove the heaters from the sunrooms. Well, honestly, every room had its own heater… So, when it got really cold, I moved the plants from the sunrooms into other rooms in the house. I put the Nasturtiums in the library for a few days which had a heater… Well, the next day I almost fell over when I opened the door to the library. The smell from the Nasturtiums was so overpowering it was unbelievable… You would never notice that when they are outside and I didn’t even notice it when they were in the sunroom.
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30 to 40° F/-1.1 to 11° C).*
Size: 1 to 10’, depending on cultivar.
Light: Sun to light shade.
Soil: Poor to average, well-draining.
Water: Average. Do not overwater.
*Depending on websites. The Missouri Botanical Garden says USDA Zones 2-11. Nasturtiums are annuals but they often reseed and come up the next spring.
They like a sunny location, but I suppose that would depend on your climate. When I was in Mississippi, they grew in light shade in the backyard during the summer. I grew them when I lived in Minnesota as well where they were in more sun.
I tried the Nasturtum ‘Yeti’ in 2012 and they performed just as the others had. ‘Yeti’ is the white-flowered Nasturtium and they looked great.
I also grew ‘King Theodore’ in 2012. The photo of them in the planter is at the top of the page. I have to say they performed the best of any while I lived in Mississippi.
I have plenty of room here on the farm in west-central Missouri, so I think I will give Nasturtiums a shot at some point.
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