Nasturtiums As Pest Control – Planting Nasturtiums For Pest Management

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Nasturtiums are colorful plants that brighten the environment with very little human attention. In fact, these cheery annuals thrive with an absolute minimum of care and often seem to prefer neglect. While the familiar plants are appreciated for their beauty and easy growth habits, many gardeners plant nasturtiums as pest control.

Can you really use nasturtiums for pest management? If you’re fighting pests in your flower garden, you may want to give it a try! Read on to learn more about nasturtium insect management, along with a few helpful tips on how to control pests with nasturtiums.

Using Nasturtiums as Pest Control

While some gardeners are dubious, many seasoned growers are convinced that nasturtium insect management is a critical aspect of a healthy garden. There are a couple of ways to use nasturtiums as pest control.

Planting nasturtiums as a trap crop: Some insects, including the dreaded aphids, love nasturtiums and they prefer them over cabbage and other tender vegetables. The trick to using trap crops is to plant the sacrificial nasturtiums safely away from your garden.

You can also use nasturtiums to draw aphids away from your prized roses and other aphid-prone plants. It appears that aphids are especially attracted to yellow nasturtiums.

Additionally, nasturtiums may draw harmful cabbage moths, thus saving your tender cabbage, kale, broccoli, and other brassicas. Nasturtiums also attract hoverflies and other beneficial bugs that dine on aphids.

If you’re so inclined, you can use insecticidal soap spray or pesticides to kill the aphids on the nasturtiums, thus targeting the bad guys and saving your vegetables from harmful chemicals.

Growing nasturtiums as companion plants: When planted with cucumbers and tomatoes, nasturtiums may repel cucumber beetles, whiteflies, aphids, and squash bugs.

Planting nasturtiums alongside eggplant or squash plants can also help repel cucumber beetles. As an added benefit, the winding stems add an extra element of beauty.

Tips on Growing Nasturtiums

Plant nasturtiums seeds in early spring. Nasturtiums thrive in full sunlight and moist, well-drained soil.

Don’t bother fertilizing nasturtiums, as this is one plant that prefers poor soil. Fertilizer will create lush, green plants at the expense of flowers.

Water nasturtiums regularly, but only when the top of the soil is dry. Never over water nasturtiums.

Remove wilted flowers to prolong blooming.

Nasturtiums grow well in containers, but they may need to be cut back occasionally to keep them from becoming leggy and messy.

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Nasturtium is incredibly easy to grow. In fact, it grows best when left alone. In a mild climate, they will self seed and spread nicely. Not only will the bright, climbing blooms look nice, but they make an excellent trap crop when planted near your garden.

I have come across a lot of discussion boards that claim planting nasturtium will repel insects from your garden. This is not true. Aphids love nasturtium. The trick is to plant it near (not with) your garden to deter the insects away from your crops.

You will need to check for and dispose of aphid covered leaves about twice a week to protect your garden. Cabbage white butterflies also love nasturtium. Believe it or not, they love it more than cabbage! The large leaves attract butterflies that will lay their eggs on the underside of the nasturtium leaves. Your cabbage will be free of caterpillar bites! When planted near squash or eggplant it will deter flea and cucumber beetles. Slugs cannot resist their juicy leaves!

After all these pests have had their feast, if there is any nasturtium left, it is edible. The leaves can be put in salad. The flower petals have a peppery taste, similar to watercress. They are quite good stuffed with cream cheese and chives. When pickled, the seeds taste similar to capers.

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Nasturtiums and aphids, a trick decoy plant

If you have heard that these beautiful cute little nasturtium flowers will help you deal with aphids, that hearsay was correct!

Nasturtium exerts a powerful attraction on aphids. It might seem surprising to see nasturtiums covered in aphids: that means all the aphids gather in the same place.

Your rose trees, vegetables and other plants are spared from the aphid onslaught!

In other words, if aphids are hogging that climbing vine, they aren’t on any other plants!

You’ll find the aphids on the stems of flowers or on the undersides of nasturtium leaves.

Another flower also attracts aphids in a similar manner: cosmos.

Other plants have an opposite effect on aphids and repel them. This is the case for marigold and lavender.

Not only against aphids

This strategy of growing nasturtium to serve as decoys also works for other pest. It also attracts large white, whose caterpillars destroy cabbage leaves.

Growing tips

  • Nasturtiums do best in areas with relatively cool summers, but usually, they can grow anywhere.
  • Nasturtiums cut for vases often root in water.
  • Nasturtiums are pretty annuals to use as edgings or at the front of a flower bed with other low-growing annuals and perennials. Allow plants to trail over walls or raised beds, and use them to add summertime color to rock gardens. They also look beautiful in containers and window boxes.

Watch the video: Nasturtium

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