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Nasturtium plants are delightful. They are a must in any garden bed or in a corner which needs brightness. Not only are they bright and cheerful, but there are many varieties - 80 in fact - and they can be both annuals or perennials. It depends on the climate. In cold regions they are more likely to be annuals, but in warmer climates they can be grown as perennials. They are, officially perennials, which means they don't die back underground in the winter, and come back in the spring. But some can't survive underground in extreme cold, so they become true annuals.
They are herbaceous plants which simply means that their stems are not 'woody'. Annual herbaceous plants die completely after producing their seeds or fruit and grow again from scratch. Perennials and biennials do not die completely, but parts of the plant survive under or close to the ground and the new season's plants grow from these. Biennials take two years to complete their life cycle. (I used to think biennial plants flowered twice a year). Carrots, parsnips and the common ragwort are herbaceous biennials. Potatoes, peonies, mint, ferns and grasses are herbaceous perennials.
Some of the parts of herbaceous plants which survive to create the new plants may be roots, or various kinds of underground stems such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers (the most familiar types).
Non-herbaceous plants are woody plants which have stems above ground that remain alive during the dormant season and grow shoots the next year from the above-ground parts – these include trees, shrubs and vines.
They can become quite scraggy as in the picture above. When left to grow like this they remind me very much of Geraniums. I love scragginess in a garden - in its place.
The Botanical name for Nasturtium plants is Tropaeolum and they come from South and Central America, the toughest one coming from Chile. This one, T. polyphyllum, is a perennial with roots which can survive underground at temperatures as low as -15C (5F).
The common or garden variety is a hybrid of T. majus, T. minus and T. peltophorum, grows from seeds and is tough to very tough. It comes in the double (which is mostly sterile and therefore must be grown from cuttings) as well as the single form and prefers a sunny spot where it will grow vigorously, even thriving in poor soil.
Colours, as well as being edible, are what make these wonderful flowers very popular. They come in Yellow, Orange, Red, Cream, and variations of all these colours including a beautiful Ruby. They may also have variegated flowers or leaves.
Some will grow as a neat bush whilst others will climb or scramble along the ground and through whatever grows in your garden. They make a riot of colour for any garden, even covering fences and trellises.
A colour box of Nasturtium Plants:
Yellow and Orange.
Eating Nasturtium Plants.
Or as a colourful garnish:
Answer to the Nasturtium Question: The Nasturtium Flower is a Dicot because it has five petals. The big, fat, rounded leaves have not one, but several main veins with smaller veins branching off them.
"The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days".Robert Leighton