Tropaeolum - Nasturtium - Tropaeolaceae - How to care for and grow Tropaeolum plants

Tropaeolum - Nasturtium - Tropaeolaceae - How to care for and grow Tropaeolum plants



better known as


Note 1

The nasturtiums, small plants very widespread a little everywhere for their characteristic flowers with surprising colors.BOTANICAL CLASSIFICATION





: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Roside


: Euroside II











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The kind Tropaeolum of the family of Tropaeolaceae, includes numerous species commonly known as nasturtiumThese are plants, perennial or annual, originating from the southern areas of America, widely used as ornamental plants all over the world.

Nasturtiums are plants that can have an erect, climbing or prostrate posture with leaves with a characteristic round shape that produce very characteristic flowers, generally carried by long stems, mostly funnel-shaped, from 1.5 to 5 cm long, of various colors to depending on the species.


There are about ninety species in the genus Tropaeolum among which the most widespread are:



The species Tropaeolum majus, the most widespread and known of the genus, including annual plants, all originating from Bolivia to Colombia. It is a climbing or creeping plant, with thin stems in which characteristic rounded leaves develop, as the petiole inserts itself directly into the leaf blade instead of into the leaf margin.

Note 1

It blooms during the summer period (June - October) producing very large flowers (about 5 cm) of varying color from red, to orange, to yellow, characteristic as they have a spur.

There are numerous varieties and cultivars of this species that differ in the color and shape of the flowers and in the earliness of flowering.


There Tropaeolum peregrinum (T. canariense or T. aduncum), native to Peru and Ecuador, unlike the other species of the genus, it is an annual plant with an upright habit.

It has light green five-lobed leaves and yellow, rammed flowers with fringed petals like a bird.


There Tropaeolum polyphyllum is a small tuberous plant native to Chile and Argentina, a tuberous perennial that does not exceed 20 cm in height with a crawling posture. It blooms in early summer (June) producing yellow, rammed flowers no longer than 2 cm.

It is not a plant suitable for growing in pots as it needs space and a fair depth of the soil to develop at its best.


There Tropaeolum speciosum it is a perennial plant, with deciduous leaves, native to Chile, stoloniferous, which has twisted and long stems and thin rizomes.

The flowers are produced in summer, they are solitary and of an extraordinary bright red, carried by a long peduncle and equipped with a spur.In consideration of the fact that it has a deep root system, it is not suitable for being grown in pots because it needs a decent soil depth.


There Tropaeolum azureum it is a climbing plant which produces delightful spurred blue-violet flowers in late spring.


There Tropaeolum peltophorum it is a plant native to Colombia, very similar to the previous one from which it differs due to the smaller yellow-red flowers and the leaves with a much longer petiole and a color tending to gray. The flowering period is from late summer to late autumn (July-October).


The species Tropaeolum tuberosum is a perennial climbing species, native to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It has tuberous roots with green lobed leaves tending towards blue. It blooms in summer (August - September) and until autumn producing numerous yellow or red flowers, provided with spurs.


There Tropaeolum tricolor (T. tricolorum) it is a species native to Bolivia and Chile. It is tuberous, climber and produces beautiful flowers of varying color from red, to purple to blue, with the edges mottled with green from winter to early summer.


There Tropaeolum pentaphyllum is a climbing species that produces pink colored flowers with a dark purple fruit.


Nasturtiums are plants that are not too difficult to cultivate, all mostly raised as annuals, even perennial species.

They are plants that it is preferable to grow them in positions that do not receive the sun in the hottest hours of the day.

Nasturtiums have no problems with high temperatures while vice versa they fear legelate.

If you are breeding tuberous species, be careful, for the winter period, to remove the tubers from the ground and keep them in a dry and cool place until the next spring.

In autumn, when the leaves of the nasturtium begin to turn yellow, irrigation must be interrupted as this symptom indicates that the plant is entering vegetative rest. It will be the plant that will signal you, in spring, that the time has come to resume watering, with the vegetative restart.


Starting from spring and throughout the summer, water regularly in order to keep the soil always slightly moist. In any case, do not exceed in how much they come out to withstand even short periods of drought.


For repotting it must be considered that if a soil too rich in nutritional elements is used, there will be a greater development of the vegetative part than the reproductive one (flowers). Therefore, in order to have a beautiful and luxuriant flowering, it is preferable not to use too fertile soil.

However, it should be borne in mind that they are plants that do not like water stagnation so take care that the soil is well draining.


During the period of active vegetative growth (spring-summer) of the nasturtium it is necessary to dilute a good fertilizer in the watering water to be administered every two / three weeks, halving the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for proper plant growth.


The Tropaeolum they are not pruned. Only the parts that gradually dry up or become damaged are eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.


The flowering period is variable depending on the species for which reference should be made to the individual species sheets.


The multiplication is generally carried out by seed, directly at home working the soil in order to eliminate the surface crust and make it less compact and sowing at 2/3 cm distance between the rows and along the rows. If the species you are sowing is a climber, remember to plant a pole near the seed which the seedling can cling to as it grows.

You can also make seedbeds, in special boxes or pots, using a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts and at fairly low temperatures, around 10-13 ° C. Care to cover the seeds with about 1 cm of sand. Germination should take place within a month. In this case, take care to carry out the transplant when you are sure that the danger of freezing is averted as the young plants would not survive.

In the case of tuberous species, it multiplies by division of the tubers.


The plants bloom little

This symptom is due to the fact that the plant receives too little sun.
Remedies: move the plant to a sunnier place but not in the hottest hours of the day.

Presence of small whitish animals on the plant

If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.
Look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of the insects.


The flowers, fruits and leaves of the Tropaeolum majus they are edible and used as a salad. Flowers still in bud are used as a substitute for flowers.

(1) Non-copyrighted image courtesy of Wouter Hagens

Video: Tropaeolaceae Tropaeolum majus