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Tropaeolum

Nasturtium
Tropaeolaceae
Annuals, Perennials

Old-fashioned favorites from South America. Distinctive appearance, rapid growth, and easy culture are three of their many strong points.

Tropaeolum majus
Tropaeolum majus

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Tropaeolum majus

There are two main kinds of this annual plant: climbing types, which trail over the ground or climb to 6 ft. by coiling leafstalks; and compact, bushy, dwarf kinds to 1 1/2 ft. tall and wide (dwarf types are more widely sold). Both have round bright green leaves on long stalks. Long-spurred flowers to 2 1/2 in. across have a refreshing fragrance and come in colors including maroon, red brown, orange, yellow, red, and creamy white. You can get seeds of mixed colors in several strains; some single colors are also sold. Both single- and double- flowered forms are available. All varieties make good cut flowers. Young leaves, flowers, and unripe seedpods have a peppery flavor and are frequently used in salads.

Easy to grow in most well-drained soils but does best in sandy soil. Sow in early spring; plant grows and blooms quickly, reseeds. In mild-winter, hot-summer areas, sow in fall for winter and spring bloom. Use climbing types to cover fences, banks, stumps, or rocks; use dwarf kinds for bedding, to hide fading bulb foliage, or for quick color. Somewhat drought-tolerant. Full sun or light shade.

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