Can Nasturtiums Grow Up a Trellis? (Yep, It’s Easy!)

nasturtium on fence

Nasturtiums have long held their place as a favorite among gardeners due to the vibrancy and aesthetic appeal they bring to any space. These trumpet-shaped, five-petaled flowers come in a wide array of dreamy colors, making them perfect for any garden, including a vertical one.

Trailing nasturtium varieties can grow up a trellis and are often used to bring some vertical aesthetic appeal to a garden. Given that they’re also pretty resilient, they generally climb up any structural support as long as their basic needs are met.

I’ll discuss how to train your plants up a trellis and recommend some excellent trailing varieties. If you want a boost in your garden’s vertical aesthetics, keep reading until the end!

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How to train nasturtiums up a trellis

Since nasturtiums have a natural tendency to sprawl and cover the ground with their long vines, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to train the flower to go up a trellis.

As long as you provide structural support, the plant can drape its vines over the trellis or fencing, climbing as it grows instead of laying along the ground.

For example, an excellent, low-cost way to train nasturtiums up a trellis is to support them with a chicken wire trellis.

If the process doesn’t seem to come naturally to your nasturtium, you can always manually curl it around the trellis to help it find its way. Doing so won’t harm the plant as long as you handle it carefully.

Another essential element to note is that the support system should be stable enough, especially as the nasturtium grows into maturity. These plants can grow up to 4 or 5 feet (1.2 or 1.5 meters) tall, and since the vines are succulent and water-filled, they can get pretty heavy. 

garden bed of nasturtiums, strawberries, calendula, and chard.
These nasturtiums are not only sprawling across the garden bed, but they’re also making their way up my fence.

Recommended trailing nasturtium varieties

There is a wide array of trailing nasturtium varieties to choose from if you want to grow these flowers up a trellis. Here are some excellent varieties you can grow in your garden:

  • Alaska: This variety is recognizable by its marbled green and white leaves. They are a beautiful climbing variety but tend to be weak climbers, so they’re often grown as bushes. If you want them to climb, you must train them more patiently.
  • Cherelle: If you’re looking to add a vibrant pop of color to your garden, this is the variety for you. This species is characterized by its unique cherry red color, and it’s a great option for a mid-range trailing variety at three feet.
  • Moonlight: Creamy yellow flowers cover the vines, attracting pollinators and looking gorgeous the whole time.
  • Tall Single Mix: This variety might be the longest climber of all at eight feet long. Classic red, orange, and yellow flowers might show some streaking on the throat, while other flowers are solid.

Types of trellis for nasturtiums

Here are the three types of trellis you can use for your nasturtiums, but with some creativity, you can try some others.

Obelisk: If you have a healthy budget for your garden and want to add something stunning, you can invest in an obelisk. In addition to coming in a wide range of colors, sizes, and designs, an obelisk’s cylindrical base structure makes it stable enough that they don’t need to be dug so deeply into the ground. 

These ornamental structures have the additional benefit of being reusable year after year and are highly decorative in the garden. You could even pair your sweet peas with another climber, such as clematis, which looks impressive on an obelisk. 

Chicken wire: This type of trellis is less fancy but more accessible. This cheap, practical trellis variety makes for an excellent nasturtium support structure. Choose chicken wire made from sturdy materials to support the weight of full-grown plants. I’d recommend choosing the wire with one-inch holes instead of half-inch so that the large leaves are less likely to get stuck.

Chain link fence: This one is perfect if you want a privacy screen that also looks pretty. The vines will need some help to get started up the fence, but once they get going, they should be able to weave themselves through the fencing. If not, just tuck the vine’s end through the links occasionally to keep them going.

nasturtiums growing on chainlink fence
This fence makes an excellent trellis without any extra effort.

Other ideas include a garden gate, lattice trellis, garden arch, or pergola bamboo teepee, though this last option will probably require some ties to keep the vines on the slippery poles.

Best growing conditions for nasturtiums

While nasturtiums are renowned for being low-maintenance plants, there are still some considerations to keep in mind when growing these gorgeous flowers to help them grow and thrive. 

Training a nasturtium to grow up a trellis can be pretty simple as long as you provide the following conditions listed below:

  • Light. Like many flowering plants, trailing nasturtiums need adequate sunlight to produce more blooms. Ensure they get 6-8 hours of full sun a day. The flowers can grow in partial shade, but make sure the shady ground is well-draining.
  • Water: Nasturtiums are usually drought-tolerant but need sufficient water to perform their best. Stick your finger in the soil to check the moisture, and water when the top two inches (5 cm) of soil feel dry.
  • Temperature: Nasturtiums thrive in temperatures around 70 °F (21 °C) during the day and can do well in nighttime temperatures as low as 55 °F (12.8 °C).
  • Soil: Like most other plants, nasturtiums thrive in well-draining soil. However, they’ll do better in a low-nitrogen mixture. Too much nitrogen can lead to foliage overgrowth and hinder the development of colorful flowers.
  • Fertilizer: Nasturtiums do well in poor soil but always appreciate healthy garden soil. If you need to supplement your garden bed, don’t go too heavy with nitrogen, as it can lead to heavy foliage growth and few flowers. Phosphorous is a great macronutrient to encourage blooms.

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