Nasturtiums are great climbers and can be trained to climb trellises, fences, and netting with just a little guidance. There’s no need to keep nasturtiums by themselves, as they make excellent companions with other climbing flowers and vegetables.
Their beautiful, highly colored flowers and long blooming season mean you will have months of blooms. They’re an all-around practical flower that will happily cover a fence or trellis in just a couple of months.
Nasturtiums can grow brilliantly with other climbing plants such as sweet peas, beans, cucumbers, and squashes. Together, they can be trained up simple stakes or more intricate trellis structures. They can also be left to trail along the ground with other creeping plants.
Not only available in the oranges and reds we typically associate with nasturtiums, but their pinks, whites, and shades of maroon can also add a splash of color anywhere in your garden.
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Nasturtiums as companion plants for other climbers
Here are a few reasons you should consider growing nasturtiums alongside other vining plants in your garden:
- Save space by using one trellis for multiple plants
- Use nasturtiums as a trap crop for other climbers, such as beans
- Attract pollinators to the other climbing crop, such as cucumbers
- Add beautiful flowers to any vertical surface
With that in mind, let’s look at some ideal climbers to share a trellis with your nasturtiums.
Use nasturtiums as a trap crop to keep your cucumbers healthy. The flowers lure aphids away from your cucumbers, and both plants can share space by growing up on the same trellis. In addition, the nasturtiums will help draw in pollinators who will visit your cucumber plants, helping you get a bumper crop this year.
As studied by Iowa State University, nasturtiums deter squash beetles away from your squash plants. Any time a study can back up the claims of companion planting, I’m all about it! Unlike many other pests, squash beetles can be hard to spot, so nasturtiums make a super helpful friend to squashes.
3. Pole Beans
Similar to cucumbers, beans are particularly susceptible to aphids. Nasturtiums are more attractive to these pests than beans, so they play a sacrificial role with beans. Like with cucumbers, the bright nasturtium flowers can help draw in pollinators who will also scout out the smaller bean blossoms.
Just like beans, peas can succumb to aphids. Stack the deck in your favor by sowing a few nasturtium seeds alongside your pea seeds. With both crops being edible, you can fill your bowl with peas and flowers to toss in your meal together.
As plants vulnerable to fungal diseases, tomato plants benefit from the nasturtium’s ability to repel blight. Grow nasturtiums with indeterminate (vining) tomato varieties since they will need to be trellised, too.
6. Hyacinth Beans
Hyacinth beans are a less common garden vine and flower, but they deserve a spot on any fence or trellis. Large, purple flowers and bean pods can cover a fence in just a couple of months, so be sure to choose a fast-growing nasturtium variety like Alaska that can keep up with the competition.
7. Scarlett Runner Bean
Another from the bean family, this time with vibrant red flowers. The beans are edible, just like pole beans, though most people grow scarlet runners for their flowers. Hummingbirds will go ga-ga for the red flowers, and they’ll surely stop by the nasturtiums on their way.
8. Sweet Pea
This one is tricky to include because all parts of the sweet pea plant are toxic. If you like picking a few nasturtium leaves or flowers to throw in your salad, be careful not to grab a sweet pea flower accidentally.
If your flowers are purely ornamental, then sweet peas and nasturtiums will get along just fine.
Sweet peas are cool season flowers that get their start in early spring. Nasturtiums can take cool weather but not a frost, so chances are you’ll have to plant your sweet peas first. The nasturtiums will quickly catch up, and you’ll soon have a trellis covered in flowers.
Training your nasturtiums
Nasturtiums and other climbing plants need something to climb up to help them reach their potential. Here are a few ideas of ways you can support your climbing plants.
Traditionally made from bamboo canes, a simple stake is made by hammering a cane into your prepared bed before planting your seeds. As the plants appear, you can help them along by gently tying them to the canes using soft garden twine.
- Trellis or fence
Trellises are available from garden centers and online stores in various sizes and patterns. There is bound to be one that suits the look of your garden.
I have a chain-link fence in my yard that isn’t particularly pretty to look at, so I am happy to train my nasturtiums up it. Just help the vines get started by weaving them into the first few inches of the fence, and they’ll take over from there.
Particularly fun if you have small children or want to create a focal point in your garden, long canes are placed in a pyramid-style arrangement. As your nasturtiums grow up the canes, they make a living tent.
Where will my nasturtiums grow best?
Simply put, nasturtiums can grow almost anywhere, from full sun to part shade. They can be grown in-ground, in raised beds, and even in hanging baskets. Even better, nasturtiums are happy bedfellows with other climbers in the garden.
Nasturtiums in borders
Compact or bush varieties of nasturtiums make gorgeous, eye-catching additions to any flowering border. Using a bush variety is essential to keep the flowers contained to the edge of your garden bed. Otherwise, you’ll see long stems creeping to other areas of the garden, ready to take over.
Nasturtiums in pots and hanging baskets
By planting nasturtiums in pots or baskets, you have the option to move the containers around easily, fill small spaces, and add vertical interest to your patio and yard. You can start nasturtiums from seed and transplant them into the containers, or you can pop a few seeds into the pot, and they’ll quickly germinate and fill the pot.
Trailing varieties can be exceptional in hanging baskets. Their trailing tendrils of flowers create interest downwards, with some vines falling six feet down or more. On the other hand, if you want to keep some head clearance, use a compact variety that will only spill over the hanging basket by a few inches.
Alongside other plants
Nasturtiums play exceptionally well with others. They attract bees and butterflies to pollinate your other plants, attract pests away from crops, and look simply stunning. Their soil and sunlight requirements are all average, making them an excellent option for planting with other sun or part-shade-loving flowers and vegetables.
When you plant nasturtiums alongside other climbers, choose a flower or vegetable with a similar growth rate to avoid one plant dominating the other.