Most of us can claim to have grown a nasturtium or two by about age six, as their large seeds make them a favourite “day-care project” (along with beans and sunflowers), and because they germinate so quickly (in 10 to 14 days)— presumably before budding young horticulturists lose interest. But familiarity shouldn’t breed contempt: These annuals have handsome, shield-shaped leaves and bear unique, helmet-shaped flowers in hot, vivid, carnival colours.
'Empress of India' photography by Michael Davis
Plant profile: Nasturtium
Nasturtiums belong to the genus Tropaeolum (meaning “trophy”), which comprises about 85 species that are indigenous to the mountainous regions of Central and South America. Forms of our common garden nasturtium— T. majus, a South American native found from Colombia to Bolivia—have been grown and selected in the Americas and Europe for more than 350 years.