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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Plant Nasturtium Facing North

I planted 4 different varieties of Nasturtium this year, including the Spitfire climber.  I direct sowed nearly all of them in containers, raised vegetable beds or in already established ground-level flower beds.  They've grown better along my north facing privacy fence than any other location.

This wasn't a good year for Nasturtiums.  In Chicago, we got a ton of rain early on, then long periods of extreme heat with no rain at all.  Because I neglect my containers so much, the Nasturtium in pots didn't stand a chance.

I planted the Spitfire in containers near the posts on my pergola and envisioned them wrapping around the cedar, their pretty green foliage being a real eye catcher against the backdrop of the wood.  But, they never got more than a few inches tall and didn't make it through the hottest part of the summer.  I think they've been dead since late June.

The ones I tucked in the corners of the raised beds were shaded enough by the bright lights swiss chard and other veggies that it kept them cool but the pie garden ended up being a bad place for them, too.  They all seemed to need some kind of protection.

By far the Nasturtiums that grew consistently all summer were the Spitfires I planted along the north facing fence.  I never got around to training them up a trellis so they rambled along the two foot wide bed, each plant spreading a good five to six feet.  They made a good ground cover for the bed which currently has scraggly looking pink shrub roses in it.

This picture doesn't do them justice.   The Spitfire variety didn't produce many flowers but the best part of Nasturtiums is the foliage, anyway.  I would definitely grow these again, in the exact same location.  If you had trouble with your Nasturtiums this year, I'd suggest you try growing them in the ground facing north.

I'm growing Nasturtium Spitfire for the GROW project.  Thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds.


  1. Wow, those are looking great! I planted mine in the south-facing front yard and they fried.

    Will have to remember to plant in the shade next year--there are plenty of seeds left over. Your healthy plants give me hope for next time!

    N for nasturtium, N for North. I can remember that...

  2. Good strategy! Some of mine were protected by partial shade, and the ones in full sun hid under the summer squash leaves (until the recent cold spell, now they're superstars!)

  3. Nice! Mine facing north died, southern exposure did much better. Mother Nature is a cruel mistress, lol.

  4. They do make a nice ground cover, don't they? Yours look wonderful! I wish they'd bloomed more but the leaves are so neat I didn't mind much.

  5. Your photo looks great... no matter what! Do you think they'd like the shade? It might be worth another try...

  6. I think I may have the magic touch when it comes to nasturtiums because mine have done pretty good. I think probably a good part of their success it that they're planted on the north side of the house, like the one you mention.

  7. Hi I wasn't sure how to reach you. I stumbled upon your blog when looking up stuff about romanesco brocolli plants. It had a blog post of yours from 2008, I believe, where you were talking about growing romanesco brocolli for the first time. I've grown it for the first time this year, and I am from Chicago as well! Anyway, mine are growing like trees, too, and I am wondering if yours ever produced any heads? So far no heads on mine (they were planted in spring), but they are huge, tall, and beautiful looking. I was wondering if you would have any thoughts. Thanks!

  8. Isn't it great when you can match a plant with the perfect garden spot? I grow mine in pots, but move to my porch where they get afternoon shade, and it works well for me. Nasturtiums are a real favorite of mine!

  9. I grew some this year, and they grew okay, but never reached any heights that would require a trellis. The one I hunted down for them sat idly by all summer long. Your right about the foliage though, it's worth it all on it's own!

  10. I used to live in a part of CA with mild summers and no rain for 6+ months. Nasturtiums grow wild, usually under larger plants and getting partial sun. They prefer poor soil, will bloom better without fertilizer. Sadly, I've had no luck growing them in New England. I miss them!