Starve Nasturtiums Into Blooming

Nasturtiums bloom best in poor soil. Photo:

Question: I bought nasturtiums for my two flower boxes. For three weeks, the boxes have been filled with very large leaves, but only one flower per box. I added compost and flower fertilizer, but it doesn’t seem to help. What should I do?

Richard V.

Answer: The nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), unlike almost any other annual flower, simply doesn’t like rich soils. A soil too rich in minerals, especially nitrogen, the first number of the three that we see on ferilizer labels, tends to produce an abundance of beautiful and very lush leaves, but very few flowers. Other factors to consider would be too little light (it prefers full sun) and overly sparse watering, but usually the combination of beautiful leaves and few to no blooms flowers simply means the plant is being overfed.

So, for this year, simply stop fertilizing. The concentration of minerals will eventually decrease and more abundant flowering should begin. As for next year, sow or transplant your nasturtiums into ordinary container soil mix, without adding compost or fertilizer, and you should see the plants in full bloom right from the beginning of the season.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

2 comments on “Starve Nasturtiums Into Blooming

  1. That happens with several types of plants, and is very obvious with bougainvillea.

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