Can Nasturtiums Grow In Part Shade? (Here’s How To Succeed)

orange nasturtium in the shade

Gorgeous, vividly colored nasturtiums can add a stunning shock of color to any garden. Not only are they pretty to look at, but they’re also helpful companion plants. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could use their beautiful flowers to add a bit of brightness to a dull corner of your garden? 

The good news is, you can.

Nasturtiums can grow very happily in partial shade. While they do need some sun to thrive, they can grow and produce flowers with as little as four hours of sunlight a day. Ideally, they prefer around six hours of sunlight a day to grow and bloom their best.

It’s not just sunlight that nasturtiums can do without. They will tolerate poor soil, dry conditions and can easily be grown in pots, too.

Growing conditions

Nasturtiums are not fussy plants at all. In fact, they can thrive in rather neglectful conditions. They need very little water and absolutely no plant feed. They prefer well-drained soil and, if planted directly into the earth, only need infrequent watering once they’ve established themselves.

Is it easy to grow nasturtiums?

Nasturtiums are very easy to grow. You can sow their seeds between early spring and mid-summer, and within a couple of months, you’ll start to see blooms on the plants. With a minimum of three hours sunlight a day, nasturtiums will grow and produce flowers until the first fall frosts

orange nasturtiums growing near mossy tree
Nasturtiums will grow just about anywhere!

Nasturtiums are annuals, so they will only flower for one season, but if left in the ground, they may well self-seed, and new plants can grow nearby the following year. If you live in an area that doesn’t get a winter freeze, your plants may even overwinter and start blooming again as soon as the weather warms up.

Growing season

Nasturtiums can be planted over a long period, from early spring until mid-summer, because they are quick growers. If you want blooms as early as possible, start your nasturtium seeds indoors from the start of March, then transplant them to the garden. If you’ve missed the opportunity to start your plants from seed, nasturtiums are easy to find at garden centers and nurseries.

You can expect flowers from early summer right up until the first frosts of fall. When their flowering season is over, try collecting the seeds from your flowers to save for next year, then cut back the plants and add them to your compost pile

Soil

Nasturtiums like rich soil as well as any garden plant, but they will grow just fine in poor, well-draining soil. They have no need for fertilizers and, once planted, need very little care at all. If your soil is particularly rich, or if you are sowing seeds in compost, mix in one third grit to help ensure ideal conditions for these poor-soil loving plants. 

Watering nasturtiums

Nasturtiums planted in the ground will very rarely need watering at all once they are established. They thrive in almost neglectful conditions. If your nasturtiums are growing in pots, watering every few days to keep the soil barely moist is ideal. If your nasturtiums are in the ground in a shadier spot, it is possible that they will ever need watering at all, especially if your climate is mild.

Deadheading nasturtiums

Regularly removing old and dead flowers from plants is called deadheading. By deadheading your nasturtiums every few days, you will get more blooms and a longer flowering period from each plant. 

If your nasturtiums are in part shade, they will likely produce slightly fewer blooms than those planted in full sun, making this process more important for shadier spots.

Different growth habits

Not all nasturtiums are alike. No matter what your outside space offers, there is most likely a nasturtium that will do well in the conditions it provides. Both trailing and dwarf varieties of nasturtiums can grow in partial shade.

yellow nasturtium with orange blotches
Not only can you find a huge range of colors, but you can also find nasturtiums to suit the amount of room you have to give them.

Trailing varieties

Even when planted in partial shade, these clever little vines will spread themselves out to reach sunnier spots. They can be sown in the ground and left to trail horizontally or trained to grow up a trellis or support. These varieties can grow well with other climbing plants, making a beautiful blend of colors – like a living flower arrangement.

Trailing nasturtiums as ground cover

These rampant plants provide excellent ground cover when grown in the ground and left unsupported. 

Staking your nasturtiums

If you decide to stake your trailing variety, they will grow up almost any support you provide for them, flowering along their length.

Compact varieties

Unlike their trailing cousins, compact varieties will form mounds in the area you’ve planted them. Because of this, these bush varieties are ideal for container gardens, borders, and small spaces, like balconies. These compact varieties don’t require as much energy as the trailing varieties, which makes them exceptionally easy to care for and ideal for shadier areas.

Different varieties of nasturtiums

Although most well known for their bright orange coloring, nasturtiums are available in a huge range of colors, from pale creams to deep burgundies. Some are one solid color while others are have dimples or splotches of a second color.

Trailing varieties

Many seed and plant sellers – both online and in garden centers, offer climbing nasturtium seed mixes for sale. If you are a little more choosy or need a specific color of nasturtium, here are some varieties you may wish to try:

Firebird 

As its name suggests, this variety of nasturtium produces stunningly bright red and orange blooms.

Yeti 

Much like its namesake, the yeti can grow exceedingly tall – up to 80 inches in height – and will produce creamy yellow flowers.

Milkmaid 

This variety produces gorgeous creamy white blooms.

Compact varieties

Online seed companies offer far more variety for nasturtiums, so if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, give them a try. Here are some of my preferred varieties you may want to explore:

Chameleon 

A cream and burgundy bloom that grows up to 12 inches tall.

Purple emperor 

A dwarf variety whose color changes from deep purple to faded violet and has a trailing habit, making it ideal for hanging baskets.

Alaska 

A bushy yellow and orange flowering plant – for the look most of us associate with nasturtiums. You can also find trailing Alaska varieties if you want both types in your garden. 

Try some nasturtiums in your shady yard

Whatever your outside space is, there is a nasturtium suitable for the conditions it offers, and you will be able to enjoy your dazzling flowers all through summer and into the fall.

If you need ideas for other flowers to grow in a part shade, try one from this list (foxgloves are my favorite!) Can Cut Flowers Grow In Part Shade? (Yes! Try These 9 Types)

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