Nasturtium, Cappuccina, Tropeolo - Tropaeolum majus

The Nasturtium

Nasturtium belongs to the Tropaeolaceae family, native to South America.
Tropeolo is a genus consisting of about 70-80 species of annual herbaceous plants originating in South America. Tropaeolum majus is the most cultivated species, from which numerous hybrids have been obtained, with erect, creeping or climbing habit.
The plant is perennial in South America, while in Europe, where various hybrid species are grown, it is annual because it particularly fears winter frosts. However, in regions where the climate is milder, in winter the plants can be protected from the cold with mulching: if you have covered them adequately, you will see them flourish in the spring.
The stems of nasturtium they are thin, fleshy, light green; the leaves are round, peltate, waxy, often with a slightly wavy edge. From spring to late summer, cappuccina, another name for Tropaeolum majus, produces numerous fragrant flowers, in shades of yellow and red, with the five sepals united to form a cup-shaped cup, at the back of the flower a short spur stretches. Flowers, leaves and seeds of the nasturtium they are edible and eaten fresh in salads. Remove the faded tropeolo flowers to prolong the flowering.
The beautiful flowers with colors ranging from yellow to orange and red, embellish a garden or a terrace and have a delicate fragrance. It can be grown in the garden for the formation of flower beds, or in the vases, hanging (Tropaeolum minus), or as a climber (Tropaeolum maius) on grids, where it can reach even 2-3 m, depending on the species. It can be planted on slopes or on low walls: it will slide quickly creating a delightful ornament. In fact, the growth of nasturtium is extremely rapid.

Characteristics of Nasturtium

An easy to grow plant that enriches gardens and balconies with flowers of intense and bright colors. Nasturtium is an ornamental, aromatic and medicinal plant, in fact the flowers and leaves are edible and have therapeutic properties.
Extremely appreciated for the vivacity of the colors of its flowers and for the very rich flowering, it is present on balconies and terraces, widespread in gardens or, thanks to its climbing habit, clinging to grids and pergolas. Having no particular needs in terms of soil and care, it is a plant that can cultivate even those who do not have a green thumb.


Nasturtium flowers need a bright and sunny position, the shadow causes little flowering. They should be placed in full sun for best results.
Some varieties cultivated as perennials such as, T. peregrinum, with a yellow flower, and T. speciosum, with a red flower, lose their aerial part in autumn, they must be protected with the use of mulched material in winter, and usually reappear in spring .
These plants usually do not withstand the harsh temperatures and, therefore, are grown as annuals.



Gender Tropaeolum
Type of plant Perennial herbaceous, cultivated as an annual
Origin South America
Vegetation Perennial in South America, annual in Europe
Foliage Persistent-transitory (according to species and climate)
Habit Climbing, creeping or hanging
Use Climbing on pergolas and grills, decombente on windowsills or balconies, creeping in flowerbeds or borders, or in the garden to keep aphids and parasites away.
Height at maturity Up to 2-3 meters
Growth rate rapid
Exposure sunny
Ground Light, well-drained and not excessively rich in organic substances
Soil moisture Always slightly damp
Composting Fertilizing the soil before planting and fertilizer diluted in water regularly every 20/30 days in the vegetative period.
Diseases and pests Aphids and parasites that attack leaves and flowers. They are eliminated by washing the plant and treating it with specific insecticides. If the plants are infested, it is recommended to eradicate them and burn them to avoid contamination of the other plants.
Temperature Fears cold and frost.


The specimens of Tropaeolum majus, also known as the Capuchin, need regular watering, but not too abundant, it is advisable to always keep the soil slightly damp, but not soaked, so check that water does not form. Tropeolo plants can easily withstand short periods of drought. Increase watering on the hottest days of summer.
In winter, for the varieties of nasturtium that are cultivated as perennials, watering should be suspended, until the vegetative restart. Add fertilizer for flowering plants to the water of the watering every 15-20 days.
In the warm months it is advisable to water the plant regularly so that the soil remains slightly damp, avoiding excess water. During the flowering period, add to the water periodically (every 3 weeks / one month) liquid fertilizer. Irrigation should be suspended during the period of vegetative rest, when the leaves begin to turn yellow.


Nasturtium specimens grow without problems in any garden soil, however preferring sandy and well-drained soils. The ideal soil, however, is formed by a mixture of garden soil, sand and peat, so that it allows proper drainage and avoids the formation of stagnant water that could cause problems for this kind of annual plants.



March, April and May
Planting April and May
Flowering Generally May, June, July August, September, October, but it varies according to species and climate.


The multiplication of Tropaeolum majus occurs by seed; sow the nasturtiums in February-March, keeping the seedbeds in a sheltered place, before planting the seedlings for a couple of months in individual pots; in May-June they can be sown directly in the open ground.
If the withered flowers come off it is possible to prolong the flowering.
The seeds can be collected and dried. It is possible to preserve and sow them the following year.

Pests and diseases

Capuchin plants are often attacked by aphids and mites that ruin both flowers and leaves. On the market there are numerous varieties of specific products that can be used to protect plants, in the period before flowering; otherwise it is possible to intervene with natural compounds, prepared with water and macerated garlic, or else, a liter of water with a teaspoon of marsiglia soap to be sprayed on the affected specimens.

Nasturtium cultivation


Maintenance Normal
Cleaning / Pruning It is not pruned, the dried leaves and flowers are removed to prolong the flowering.
Water needs Low, but frequent, avoid water stagnation.
Multiplication Sowing, offshoots, cutting


Tropaeolum maius, a plant with a climbing habit, with roundish leaves and thin and fleshy stems, very delicate, which extend and can reach up to three meters. They climb, they wrap themselves in any support, and cover fences and pylons. The flowers are large and very abundant, they have five petals with colors ranging from red, yellow or orange.
Tropaeolum minus, or nano nasturtium, suitable for pots or small spaces since it grows in the form of small bushes. Red, yellow or orange flowers.
Tropaeolum minus "Peach melba", with yellow flowers, it is ideal to be cultivated in a vase due to its hanging posture. It is used in nutrition, especially for salads.
Tropaeolum peltophorum: similar to the Tropaeolum maius, but with the peduncle of the leaves longer and greyish, and with smaller and orange-scarlet flowers. It blooms from July to October.
Tropaeolum peregrinum or Tropaeolum canariense: perennial species with climbing habit cultivated as an annual. The leaves have five lobes, the flowers are canary yellow with frayed petals. It can reach 3 m. of height.
Tropaeolum polyphyllum: creeping plant. The development in diameter can reach 2 m. In June it produces yellow-orange flowers. Not very suitable for growing in pots because it needs a lot of space to grow.
Tropaeolum speciosum: upright plant, it is especially suitable for places with a mild climate. In summer it produces solitary flowers of an extraordinary bright red, carried by a long peduncle. It reaches 3-5 m. of height. Due to the remarkable root system it is not suitable for cultivation in pots.
Tropaeolum tuberosum: climbing plant with tuberous roots. It reaches 2 m. of height. The leaves are lobed and green-blue in color. It flowers in the August-September period. The yellow flowers outside and red inside are carried by a long flower stem. During the winter it is necessary to protect it from the cold by covering it with straw, or it is necessary to remove the bulbs from the ground in autumn and keep them away from the cold.


In places with mild climate the nasturtium reproduces spontaneously. Otherwise it is possible to sow it in pot in the period March, April or May or directly in the ground in May.
Put in a 3 to 5 seed pot using a soil with peat and sand in equal parts. The vase must be exposed to light, but in a sheltered position so that the temperature does not fall below about 18 degrees. If you place them for example on a veranda, you will have an early flowering. After about two months (in May), when there is no longer the risk of frost, the plants can be planted.
If it is the climbing variety, put them at a distance of 50 cm from each other and provide them with adequate support. For other species 30 cm of distance between one plant and another is sufficient.
If you prefer to sow directly in the garden, you can do it in May.
Seeds produced from the month of July can be harvested, dried and stored so that they can be sown the following year.
Reproduction can also be done by cuttings or offshoots, but in this case it requires some experience. If you prefer the cutting, cut a sprig of 8 cm approximately, plant it in the soil in a sheltered place and protect it with a plastic sheet: the roots will sprout within 8-10 days.

Where to plant it?

Nasturtium prefers sun exposure, which favors abundant flowering. In places where summer is particularly hot, it is advisable to place the plant in a shady place.
Climbing species are used to decorate grids or pergolas or on balconies, creeping dwarf species are planted in pots, in flower beds or along walkways. Nasturtiums are often associated with upright growth plants to create a pleasant ensemble.
Not only appreciated for the brightly colored flowers, it is an extremely useful plant in the vegetable garden or in the orchard, for example near the apple trees, thanks to its ability to attract aphids and plant pests. It can be placed next to cabbage, tomatoes or beans to keep away ants, snails or dangerous insects.

Type of terrain

Nasturtium can be planted anywhere. However it is necessary that the soil is not very rich and that it is well drained. With a soil that is very rich in nutrients, the plant will have a remarkable vegetative development, but few flowers. On the contrary, if the soil is dry and sandy, the plant will be bare at the base.

Use in the kitchen

The Tropaeolum maius is edible, in fact the buds not yet opened can be preserved in vinegar or in salt and used as capers. The flowers and leaves, thanks to the slightly spicy and aromatic flavor, can be used to enrich salads and some sauces, such as mayonnaise, with a spicy note. Try adding nasturtium leaves and flowers to lettuce, other salads or sandwiches and appetizers: in addition to the view, it will surely delight your palate.

Therapeutic properties

The active ingredients contained in the nasturtium are numerous, for this reason the various parts of the plant are used for decoctions and herbal teas.
The leaves of Tropaeolum maius are rich in vitamin C. The plant also has antiseptic, expectorant and diuretic properties. The dried leaves and flowers are used in the preparation of herbal teas and dandruff shampoos or toning scalp lotions.

Nasturtium, Cappuccina, Tropeolo - Tropaeolum majus: Infusion of fresh nasturtium leaves

Collect about 20 nasturtium leaves, rinse them, let them drain and rub them lightly. Heat a liter of water and pour it over the leaves. Leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes, filter and drink the infusion, recommended to combat coughs, colds and urinary infections.
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