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Managing Nasturtiums: Controlling Spread and Maximizing Benefits

Managing Nasturtiums: Controlling Spread and Maximizing Benefits

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Paul Brown

Nasturtiums will spread in your garden rather quickly. The species is known to be extremely fast-growing, especially in warm and humid climates. They’re often used as ground cover due to their impressive ability to spread. However, sometimes, they can be invasive and a nuisance to deal with.

In this article, I’ll explore some of the most common reasons why nasturtiums spread so easily and whether keeping them contained is always necessary. I’ll also provide tips on preventing your nasturtiums from spreading and some of their potential benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

Why Nastrutiums Spread in Your Garden

In the introduction, I mentioned that nasturtiums will spread in your garden rapidly. In the sections below, I’ll discuss this in greater detail:

1. Nasturtiums Repopulate and Survive Extremely Well

The main reason why nasturtiums spread in your garden is their genetic makeup. Though the roots of this species are shallow (unlike what you’d find in other invasive plants), it still has a remarkable ability to repopulate, survive, and thrive even in the most unfavorable conditions (source).

2. They Produce Excessive Seeds

Nasturtiums reproduce through seeds, which often are produced in excess, especially if the climate is favorable enough (source). Once the seeds mature, they quickly get dispersed by water, animals, or, more commonly, the wind. 

Unlike most seeds, which only remain viable for a year or two, nasturtium seeds can last up to several years. This means that even if they don’t find the correct conditions right away, they can still germinate once the time is right.

3. Nasturtiums Grow Rapidly

Even once they grow, nasturtiums have some of the most aggressive growth habits you’ll ever come across as a gardener. That’s why they’re often used as ground covers – it’s easy to count on them to take over an entire space quickly.

Now that you have a better idea of why nasturtiums grow and spread so quickly, it’s time to explore what your next step should be. Will you need to take immediate measures to prevent their further spread, or will leaving them be will provide you with more advantages than drawbacks?

A large  number of Nasturtiums blooming.

Do You Need To Keep Nasturtiums From Spreading?

Right off the bat, I want to note that the answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as you might’ve thought. Whether it’s better to keep nasturtiums from growing or to let them be will ultimately depend on every gardener’s priorities and goals (both aesthetic and practical).

For example, if you want to cultivate a diverse garden with many different species, letting your nasturtiums wreak havoc isn’t the best move. These flowers, though beautiful, can quickly become invasive and crowd out other plants, acting exactly like weeds.

If you feel like that’s the case for you, you’ll want to head over to the following section to learn more about what your best course of action would be.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to grow a beautiful, uniform ground cover or trying to find an easy-to-care-for trailing species, allowing nasturtiums to do their thing might just be the best course of action. If this is your situation, skip the following section and head straight to the one below.

How To Keep Nasturtiums From Spreading

Here are some of my top tips on keeping your nasturtiums from spreading too much. Remember that combining a few methods can do wonders for your garden. Let’s take a look: 

  • Physically pull out new nasturtiums. Pulling newer growths out of the soil is easier than pulling out fully mature plants. So, keep an eye out for baby nasturtiums and remove them before they grow too much.
  • Deadhead existing nasturtiums. Doing this can help reduce the number of seeds that get produced and, thus, dispersed.
  • Use physical barriers. If you don’t want to invest copious amounts of time and energy in removing new growths and deadheading to no end, you can simply choose to grow your nasturtiums in a separate container or surrounded by rocks or mulch – that way, the plants won’t be able to get too far even if they want to.
  • Choose a slower-growing variety. Though this tip is only applicable to those who have yet to choose their nasturtiums, I still want to note that the right variety can make a world of difference when it comes to the upkeep you’ll need to do to prevent it from spreading too much. Some species are less prone to spreading, so ask the staff at your local garden center for suggestions before choosing your nasturtium seeds.

Can Nasturtium Benefit Your Garden?

Doing the most to keep growth at bay isn’t the only way to deal with nasturtiums spreading in your garden. Since these plants add color and aesthetic appeal to any space, you might as well lean into their habits and let them cover the entire space. Doing this will give you a gorgeous garden in no time without having to spend too much time or energy.

If you decide to go this route, here are some advantages you’ll enjoy by growing nasturtiums in your garden:

  • Aesthetic appeal. Nasturtiums are gorgeous, and an entire garden full of them is even more eye-catching.
  • Versatility. Nasturtiums can be grown everywhere, serving as ground covers, doubling as trailing plants, or adding color to hanging baskets.
  • Nutritional value. Nasturtiums are edible, boasting a peppery, tangy flavor and an impressive nutritional profile full of vitamins and minerals. They make excellent additions to most salads. 
  • Pest control. Last but not least, nasturtiums also boast excellent pest-repelling properties (even pests are attracted to their bright colors and mouth-watering flavor). So, if you plant them near your veggie garden, you can rest assured that your squash and tomatoes will remain pest-free.

This video from CaliKim, author of Organic Gardening for Everyone: Homegrown Vegetables Made Easy, gives an excellent overview of the benefits of growing Nasturtiums in your garden:

Growing Nasturtiums - An Edible, Easy-to-Grow Cool Season Flower 🌺


Nasturtiums are fast-growing flowers that can take over your garden faster than you can blink. However, whether you want to keep their spread at bay or take advantage of it that’s entirely up to you. Above, I’ve provided you with all the information you need to make the right decision and properly see it through.

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