Harvesting nasturtium: timing & practical tips


For many years now, I have been growing various vegetables as a hobby in my spare time, which is what ultimately led me to studying horticulture. I find it fascinating to watch as plants grow from seed to fruit and to then finally be able to make use of the literal fruits of my labour.

Favourite fruit: Strawberries and cherries
Favourite vegetable: Potatoes, tomatoes and garlic

The aromatic, spicy flowers of the nasturtium are not only beautiful on the plant – they also make a great impression on plates as edible decorations.

Close up of nasturtium flower.
It is not only the flowers of the nasturtium that are suitable for eating [Photo: Iva Vagnerova/ Shutterstock.com]

If you regularly harvest the flowers of the nasturtium (Tropaeolum), you can enjoy an extended flowering period. But how can nasturtiums be preserved and what is the right way to harvest them? In this article, we explain everything on this topic.

Harvesting nasturtiums

The first leaves of nasturtium can be harvested about 4 to 6 weeks after sowing and then throughout the entire cultivation period. From the beginning of the flowering period in June until the first frosts in autumn, the plants produce masses of colourful flowers that can be harvested in the unopened or opened state. It is best to pick them after a rainy day and early in the morning, as the blossom remains fresh when harvested at this time and the flavour is optimally pronounced. After harvesting, briefly check whether there are still insects such as earwigs in the blossom. If you let one or two flowers wither, you may discover the seed pods a short time later, which can also be harvested when unripe. For harvesting nasturtium seeds for sowing, they must first ripen completely on the plant.

Tip: Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow nasturtiums in pots on your balcony. To ensure that everything is taken into account, we have compiled the most important information on the correct way to plant nasturtiums.

Preserving nasturtiums

The abundant harvest of leaves, flowers and seed pods is crying out to be processed. But preserving this delicious plant is difficult, as the flowers and leaves of nasturtiums are not very suitable for drying or freezing. We have listed the other ways of preserving nasturtiums below:

  • Pickle flower buds and unripe seed pods like capers.
  • Make a pesto from the leaves
  • Freeze flowers with water in ice cube moulds
  • Use dried seeds ground as a spice
  • Use blossoms to make herb vinegar

Eating nasturtium: which parts of the plant are edible?

Many people already know that the flowers of the nasturtium plant are edible – that the leaves and seeds of the plant can also be eaten may come as a surprise to some. If you have pets, there’s no reason to worry about this plant, because nasturtium is completely safe for them too.

Are nasturtium leaves edible?

The leaves of the nasturtium plant are edible and can be used, for example, to make a tea that strengthens the immune system.

Are nasturtium flowers edible?

Eating nasturtium flowers can be done both when the flowers are open as well as closed.

Are the seeds of nasturtium edible?

The seed capsules of the plant are used, among other things, in their unripe state. As already mentioned, they are popular as a substitute for capers. However, the ripe, dried seeds can also be used as a pepper substitute. For this purpose, they should always be freshly ground.

Using nasturtium in the kitchen

Nasturtiums taste best freshly picked – for example in herb butter and curd, as a spicy salad ingredient or as an edible flower decoration. The flowers filled with cream cheese are a special delicacy. The larger leaves can also be filled like grape leaves. If you want to visually enhance your drinks, you can freeze the nasturtium flowers in ice cube moulds.

Properties and effects of nasturtium

The mustard oil glycosides give nasturtium its pungent, cress-like taste. Their antimicrobial effect against bacteria, viruses and fungi is undisputed. In 2013, the greater nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) was even named medicinal plant of the year. The plant extract is often used to prevent urinary tract infections and colds. But nasturtium also contains other healthy ingredients – including vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and sulphur.

Did you know that the flowers and bulbs of certain lily species (Lilium) can be eaten? In our article on edible flowers, you can get inspired about other splashes of colour with which you can decorate your dishes.

Subscribe to the Plantura newsletter