This charming annual , a native to Peru and the West Indies, is at its best during Spring when, if given a spot in not too rich soil and a partly shaded position .it produces masses of flowers in a huge array of bright colours ranging from cherry rose, gold, tangerine, apricot and blacky red, plus some delicate creamy colours as well, such as the form 'Milkmaid' which is as close to white as you can get. There are also some different leaf colours such as the variegated 'Alaska" and the ruby tinted 'Empress of India'
The double flowered forms were originally developed in Italy in the mid 18th century and the Gleam Hybrids of the mid 20th century from California were the first with a scent . The perfume is subtle ,sweet and peppery at the same time .
Dwarf and non trailing forms have been introduced including the 'Jewel' mixed and 'Whirlybird'
Nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and if you can stand the hot taste which may bring tears to your eyes ,they make a colourful addition to the salad bowl and are full of vitamin C Hence the common name of Indian Cress, though the German is more expressive....Kapuzinerkresse. Nasturtiums are a great gardening plant for children as the seeds are large and easy to plant and reliable in any conditions . When the flowers start to fade, it can be quite a bit of work to remove the masses of trailing stems left behind . The large quantity of seed which have dropped ensure its return in the following season .A second flush of flowers often occurs after autumn rain and that is always welcome. The colour Nasturtium Red has been in use in the paint and textile trades since the end of the 18th century and is pictured below.