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Plants I Can’t Grow: Nasturtiums

August 6th, 2012

I’ve been trying to grow nasturtiums for years. From what I hear, they are great in lean dry soils, but that doesn’t seem the be the case here. Perhaps my soil is just too acidic or silty for their liking. I can get them to grow a little and bloom, but they never look as good as these I spotted these beauties growing in containers at the National Garden in D.C.  Granted these are probably fed a steady diet of chemical fertilizer.

This year I planted a ton of them on the back hillside where all those tulips were, but they’ve been languishing. There are a few plants that look OK, but most of them are still tiny little things.

A couple weeks ago, I gave them a bit of chicken manure and that seems to have perked them up a bit. They’re still a little thin and don’t bloom very profusely.

Funny thing is that I don’t really like them all that much, I don’t find them all that attractive.  I continue to grow them because of the benefits they are said to provide. Perhaps my issues with growing nasturtiums will cease next summer in the new garden in Maine.

What is a plant that you simply can’t seem to grow in your garden?

17 Comments to “Plants I Can’t Grow: Nasturtiums”
  1. Misti on August 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I’ve always heard they don’t like much fertilizer and that will get them to bloom more. We had decent success here in Texas this year but they do not last the summer—they are a cooler weather plant. Maybe that is your problem this summer? The heat?

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  2. Melissa on August 6, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I’ve been growing them for the past two years here in the south and last year they did great until it got too hot- even had them in very rich soil- they went out of control actually. This year I decided to put them where they would get a little shade during the hot part of the day- they are doing pitiful, but they kept drooping and getting sunburned last year– so I don’t know what they like?!!! Guess I’ll try another place next year!

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  3. igardendaily on August 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

    They have been tough for me to grow as well. I’ve tried them 2 years in a row here and the first year they didn’t germinate and this year a couple of plants have sprouted but no flowers. I have them in a semi-shady spot because I know they can’t take the kind of sun we get. When I lived in PDX, I was able to grow them o.k. but they always got covered with black aphids. I’v never found them to be easy but so many places (nurseries, public gardens, restaurants, etc…) have beautiful spots of them!

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  4. Susy on August 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

    It’s certainly good to hear I’m not the only one who struggles to grow nasturtiums.

    Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Maybelline on August 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I finally had to pull my nastursiums out. They were getting ratty. Planted dwarf Cherry Red variety to replace them in the fall.

    I cannot grow Brussel Sprouts, peonies, gardenias.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  6. Lee on August 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I can’t grow peonies. They all drop dead on me eventually.

    Reply to Lee's comment

  7. daisy on August 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I have the hardest time growing coneflowers, although everyone I know seems to have no trouble. I did get one to bloom this summer, and it felt like a small victory. Best wishes with your nasturtiums. Did you know they are edible? I’ve grown them, but neglected to save the seed. Ah, well…

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  8. Shannon on August 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I can’t seem to grow artichokes. Everybody else in my area can. After four years of trying I gave up.

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  9. Peggy on August 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve never had any problems growing nasturtiums regardless of where we lived (Ohio, Alaska, NJ, NE, etc..) but my marigolds and sunflowers have a tendency to be pathetic. And lets not get on the subject of cilantro/coriander… dead every single time! The biggest problem we’ve had with nasturtiums was our boys loved to eat them when they were little so it was not unusual to have a plant striped of all its flowers in an afternoon. :)

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  10. cherise on August 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I have always wanted foxglove and ranunculus in my garden and I planted them for years with no success. I finally gave up but next year I plan on concentrating more on flowers (the veggie garden is out of control and I can’t keep up) so I’ll probably plant them again. Nasturtium also eludes me but I have had random success so I planted them once again this year. Planted two packs of seeds which I faithfully soaked overnight and I have one plant. One. And, I’m sure it will not bloom until mid-September at which time its life span will be a mere 4 weeks because of frost. Yet, I do it again and again…

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  11. itchbay on August 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I planted some mounding orange sherbet colored nasturitium seeds in a barren patch along the side fence. They came in bright orange, and trailed out all over the yard. And then died on the first hot day, even though they were in the shade.

    I’m going to try again with some pink mounding, but I think these might be more work than I’d hoped for a bare patch. :)

    Reply to itchbay's comment

  12. Chicago Mike on August 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Broccoli, Cauliflower, Romanesco, and I have difficulty with Onions, although I am going to try your technique in the coming year.

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  13. Brenda on August 6, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Thats amazing to read, here in Austalia they grow like crazy and are like a weed!

    Reply to Brenda's comment

  14. whit on August 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Nasturtiums are prolific here. They’re are just like borage…reseeding all over the place. Their flowers are very peppery, which is nice in lettuce salads.

    I can’t seem to get broccoli and cauliflower right. This year, we had hope for cauli that the cabbage root weevils didn’t get, but then the heads seemed to come up with the flower clusters separated. Some year, i’ll grow a decient head of cauliflower. :)

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  15. Hannah on August 7, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Nasturtiums are great! If only for the flavour the leaves add to salads and pesto. If you like rocket you’ll love nasturtiums!

    Reply to Hannah's comment

    • Susy on August 7, 2012 at 8:11 am

      I do love rocket, grow it every year, the spicier the better!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Marcia on August 9, 2012 at 1:09 am

    I just can’t seem to grow lettuce. At best I will get a few heads out of a whole row.Grrrrrrr

    Reply to Marcia's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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