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Best nasturtiums to grow from seed

Nasturtium Empress of India, my garden, October 2014
Nasturtium Empress of India, my garden, October 2014

From tall climbers to small groundcover varieties, colour-changing flowers and variegated foliage

Nasturtiums are one of the best all-round annuals for our gardens – pretty yet showstopping blooms, easy for children and beginners, with edible flowers and leaves, plus some with variegated foliage.

They’ll perform in bad weather, attract pollinators and draw pests away from your crops. Is there another plant that can offer so much?

Of Central and South American heritage (despite its common name of Indian cress), these fast-growing, hardy annuals have bright, bold, long-spurred flowers can be found in shades from cream to deepest mahogany – some even colour change!

Some are blotched, there are singles, semi-doubles and doubles, blooming from summer right through to the first frosts.

The attractive round leaves are peppery and can be added to summer salads, as can the flowers, while immature seeds can be pickled and used like capers.

Nasturtiums can be used as groundcover, to climb a trellis or trail from hanging baskets. They’ll also happily self-seed.

If seeds are available from two or more retailers, they are marked widely available; those not so easily obtainable are shown with supplier link and price (correct at time of publishing).

Colour-changing flowers

Bloody Mary: Creamy-yellow flowers have a flecked pattern turning progressively darker as they age, ending up blood red. Height and spread 30cm, widely available.

Chameleon: The flowers look like orchids and change colour, with masses of colour on compact plants. Height 30cm, spread 35cm, exclusive Thompson & Morgan, £1.99.

Orchid Flame: Exotic-looking flowers, developing from red with yellow splashes and veining, to fully yellow. Height 30cm, spread 90-120cm, exclusive Thompson & Morgan, £2.99.


Nasturtium Baby Deep Rose. Picture; Chiltern Seeds
Nasturtium Baby Deep Rose. Picture; Chiltern Seeds

Dwarf varieties (height/spread below 1.5m)

Alaska Ladybird: see Variegated foliage.

Alaska Mixed: see Variegated foliage.

Baby Deep Rose: Deep rosy-pink blooms. Height 35cm, spread 40cm, widely available.

Baby Rose: Deep rose flowers almost the same size as the small, dark green leaves. Height and spread 40cm, Suttons, £3.49.

Banana Cream: Golden-yellow flowers fading to creamy yellow, height and spread 25cm, Kings Seeds, £1.70.

Nasturtium Salmon Baby. Picture; Mr Fothergill's
Nasturtium Salmon Baby. Picture; Mr Fothergill’s

Banana Split: Golden slightly ruffled flowers fade to lemon as the season progresses. Slightly spreading habit. Height 30cm, spread 45cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.99.

Black Velvet: Deep velvety, red-black blooms above fresh green foliage on neat plants. Height 23cm, spread 30cm, widely available.

Bloody Mary: see Colour-changing flowers.

Blue Pepe: Grown for its grey-blue edible leaves. Contrasting red flowers. Height and spread 20cm, Chiltern Seeds, £1.85.

Bolero Mixed: Very quick-growing, bright mixture. Height 30cm, spread 35cm, Thompson & Morgan, £1.99.

Nasturtium Jewel Cherry Rose. Picture; DT Brown
Nasturtium Jewel Cherry Rose. Picture; DT Brown

Burning Embers: Orange and yellow mix, height and spread 30cm, widely available.

Chameleon: see Colour-changing flowers.

Crazy Creeper: Mixture, height and spread 30cm, Johnsons Little Gardeners, £1.55.

Dayglow Mix: A trailing mix for baskets and patio containers. Height 40cm, spread 1m, Suttons, £1.99.

Dwarf Compact Mixed: Colourful blooms held above a blanket of foliage, thriving in poor soils. Height 30cm, spread 35cm, widely available.

Self-seeder - nasturtium
Nasturtium self-seeder in my garden

Double Delight: Double to semi-double large cream blooms with a hint of lime on bushy mid-green foliage. Height 30cm, spread 45cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.29.

Empress of India: Deep velvety crimson flowers against dark foliage. Height 24cm, spread 45cm, widely available.

Firebird: see Variegated foliage.

Gleam Double Hybrids: Semi-trailing habit with double and semi-double scented flowers in orange, salmon, scarlet, soft yellow and mahogany. Height and spread 40cm, Chiltern Seeds, £1.95.

Gleam Mixed: Mainly double and semi-double colourful mixture, semi-trailing, height 40cm, widely available.

Nasturtium Ladybird Rose
Nasturtium Ladybird Rose. Picture; Plants of Distinction

Golden Jewel: Mainly double golden flowers, height and spread 30cm, Johnsons, £2.40.

Jewel Cherry Rose/Cherry Rose Jewel: Semi-double blooms in cherry-rose on bushy plants. Height and spread 25cm, widely available.

Jewel Mix/Mixed: Brightly coloured flowers held well above the foliage. Height 30cm, spread 50cm, widely available.

Ladybird: Golden-yellow flowers with five bright red spots. Height 20cm, spread 35cm, widely available.

Ladybird Mixed: Pink, yellow, orange and pink flowers with ladybird spots. Height 25cm, spread 30cm, Unwins, £2.49.

Nasturtium
Self-seeded Nasturtium peeping through the fence in November

Ladybird Rose: Pale rose flowers marked with maroon. Height and spread 25cm, Suttons, £2.49.

Little Gem Mix: Bright flowers mix. Height and spread 30cm, Suttons, £1.99.

Maharajah Mix: Semi-double, quick to flower, height and spread 40cm, Unwins, £2.29.

Mahogany Gleam: Semi-trailing, semi-double blooms above large rounded foliage. Height and spread 40cm, Johnsons, £2.40.

Mahogany Jewel: Large, semi-double blooms in deepest red. Height and spread 45cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.29.

Nasturtium Milkmaid
Nasturtium Milkmaid

Milkmaid: Delicate blooms in moonlit shades, the closest to white. Height 30cm, spread 45cm. Widely available.

Orchid Flame: see Colour-changing flowers.

Paintbox Mixed: Flowers are ‘spurless’ and are larger and more upward facing than normal types. Height and spread 30cm, Dobies, £2.49.

Paso Doble: Combination of crimson and peach-cream flowers with contrasting veins and flower centres, height 25cm, spread 30cm, widely available.

Peach Melba: Mainly semi-double flowers in cream and peach with dark maroon spots. Height and spread 30cm, widely available.

Deep red Jewel Mix
Deep red Jewel Mix

Peach Melba Superior: Cream flowers splashed with maroon above grey-green foliage, height and spread 30cm, widely available.

Prince Charming: Creamy flowers with deep red accent to each petal. Height and spread 25cm, Johnsons, £2.85.

Princess of India: A compact version of Empress of India. Small dark, bronze foliage with a mass of deep red flowers. Height 25cm, spread 35cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.99.

Purple Emperor: Buds open as dark burgundy then fade to shades of dusky rose. Trailing habit, height and spread 25cm, widely available.

Rumba Mix: Single and semi-double red and peach flowers above dark green foliage. Height 30cm, spread 35cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.29.

Self-seeded yellow groundcover
Self-seeded yellow groundcover

Salmon Baby: Coral, mainly semi-double blooms, height and spread 30cm, widely available.

St Clements: Citrus-coloured blend of fragrant semi-double blooms, deep green foliage on semi-trailing plants. Height 30cm, spread 45cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.49.

Summer Carousel: Mix of pink and yellow flowers, height and spread 30cm, Mr Fothergill’s £2.55.

Tip Top Alaska Deep Orange: see Variegated foliage.

Tip Top Apricot: Showy apricot flowers held well above the foliage. Height and spread 30cm, Chiltern Seeds, price £2.45.

Orange climbing nasturtiums with spurs on show
Orange climbing nasturtiums with spurs on show

Tip Top Mahogany: Deep red flowers set off by golden-green foliage. Height and spread 20cm, Chiltern Seeds, price £2.45.

Tip Top Mixed: Holds its single flowers above the foliage, height and spread 30cm, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.55.

Tip Top Velvet: Deep red flowers, height and spread 30cm, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.55.

Tom Thumb Black Velvet: Dark chocolate to maroon single flowers with bright green foliage, height and spread 30cm, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.15.

Tom Thumb Mixed: Single flowers in a wide colour range. Height 15-23cm. Widely available.

New nasturtium Chameleon rubbing petals with an old orange mix variety
New nasturtium Chameleon rubbing petals with an old orange mix variety

Trailblazer: Brilliant flower colours and a compact, trailing habit, for hanging baskets. Height 40cm, spread 60cm, Dobies, £2.49.

Troika Spotty Dotty: Luminous yellow blooms, dotted with scarlet-red. Height 30cm, spread 1m, Thompson & Morgan, £1.99.

Tutti Frutti Mixed: see Variegated foliage.

Vesuvius: Heritage variety, with dark bluish-green leaves and flowers in salmon and salmon-pink with a dark spot. Height 45cm, Chiltern Seeds, £1.49.

Whirlybird Cream: Creamy semi-double flowers held above rich green foliage. Height 30cm, spread 35cm, Thompson & Morgan Kew Collection, £2.69.

Whirlybird Mixed: Semi-double flowers in a mix of cherry, rose, gold, mahogany, orange, scarlet, tangerine and cream. Height 30cm, spread 35cm, widely available.


Nasturtium Tall Mix Organic Seed Range. Picture; Suttons
Nasturtium Tall Mix Organic Seed Range. Picture; Suttons

Tall climbing and spreading varieties (height/spread more than 1.5m)

African Queen: see Variegated foliage.

Climbing Mixed: Bright flower range to train upwards, as they lack tendrils. Height 2.4m, spread 1.5m, widely available.

Climbing Variegated Queen Mixed: see Variegated foliage.

Crimson Emperor: Deep crimson blooms with golden yellow throats. Vigorous, sprawling growth, excellent for groundcover. Height 30cm, spread 2m, widely available.

Yellow Trailing Mix hiding the edge of a raised bed
Yellow Trailing Mix hiding the edge of a raised bed

Gleaming Apricots: Soft, warm apricot flowers with a darker throat. Height 1.5m, DT Brown, £1.99.

Indian Chief: Climber with dark foliage and scarlet, double flowers, height 1.8m, Chiltern Seeds, £1.95.

Jeepers Creepers: Mix of colours and blotches, height 1.8m, Unwins, £1.49.

Jewel of Africa: see Variegated foliage.

Self-seeded nasturtiums
Self-seeded Trailing Mixed nasturtiums flowering well into October

Mambo: Contrasting mixture with trailing, rambling habit. Height 1.5m, Johnsons, £2.40.

Spitfire: A tall climber, with bright orange-scarlet flowers. Height 4m, Chiltern Seeds, £1.95.

Tall Mix/Mixed: Rapid climber for use against trellises and screens. Height 1.8m, widely available.

Tropical Mix: Climbing, single-flowered variety, ideal for covering banks and thin hedges. Height 1.8m, widely available.

Trailing Mixed: Vigorous variety with single flowers, height 1.8m, widely available.


Nasturtium Alaska Mixed
Nasturtium Alaska Mixed

Variegated foliage

Alaska Ladybird: Creamy-green variegated leaves with red ladybird spotted, yellow flowers. Height and spread 30cm, Dobies, £2.49.

Alaska Mixed: Leaves are marbled in green and white with multicoloured blooms. Height 20cm, spread 45cm, widely available.

Alaska Salmon Orange: Soft salmon-orange flowers and intricately marbled foliage. Height and spread 30cm, Johnsons, £2.85.

Alaska Tip Top Red: Vivid red flowers give a dramatic contrast to the variegated foliage, height and spread 30cm, widely available.

African Queen: Single flower mixture above cool, green and white marbled foliage. Height 1.5m, widely available.

Climbing Variegated Queen Mixed: Attractive foliage and a mix of single flowers, height 2m, Kings Seeds, £1.55.

Firebird: Trailing variety for hanging baskets with orange and yellow flowers above variegated foliage. Spread 40cm, Thompson & Morgan, £2.99.

Jewel of Africa: A mix of yellows, reds, creams and peach/pinks with marbled and striped cream foliage, against a light green background. Height 2.4m, spread 1.5m, Thompson & Morgan, £1.69.

Nasturtium African Queen
Nasturtium African Queen

Mixed Salad: Three colours (red, orange and yellow) plus one with variegated leaves, Real Seeds, £2.20.

Orange Troika: A vigorous trailer with a neat compact habit. Orange flowers held above decorative marbled foliage. Height 30cm, spread 1.5m, widely available.

Red Troika: Deep red flowers with semi-trailing variegated foliage, height 50cm, Johnsons, £2.40.

Tip Top Alaska Deep Orange: Glowing orange flowers held above the foliage, height and spread 30cm, Mr Fothergill’s, £2.40.

Tutti Frutti Mixed: Brightly coloured flowers above attractively marbled foliage. RHS Award of Garden Merit winner. Height and spread 30cm, Suttons, £1.75.

Nasturtium Alaska's foliage
Nasturtium Alaska’s foliage
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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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