Sunday, May 2, 2010


With no frost or freezing temperatures here since early April and none in the forecast for the next ten days, I put these sad-looking, leggy "Spitfire" climbing nasturtiums outside this weekend. It makes me wonder how well nasturtiums will do even in a sunnier spot in our mostly-shady garden, since the basement light that grows beautiful veggie seedlings did such a poor job for these pathetic-looking plants.

I hope they'll be happier outside, but for extra insurance I planted several more seeds in the pot. If the new ones sprout and are sturdier, and these don't look alot better by then, they're going into the compost!

Never having grown nasturtiums before, and not knowing what climbing nasturtium seedlings are supposed to look like, I wasn't sure if these were typical of young nasturtiums. But after seeing Diane's winter-sown nasturtium seedlings, I can see that mine aren't quite right. I love experimenting in the garden, especially when my experiments turn out well. Frankly, I'm relieved that they're not supposed to look like this, and hopefully the second batch will be much nicer. In the meantime, I've resolved to avoid starting nasturtium seeds in the basement in the future!

I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds.


  1. I didn't do well with indoor seed starting myself. Most of them sprouted but they're spindly and falling flat. I'm inclined to try to get my seedlings outside too soon.

  2. I am planning on sowing my Jewel Nasturtiums tomorrow. I have never started them indoors. Yours may perk up once they are outside.


  3. Wow, those are rather twiny, aren't they? I wonder why they reacted like that when the other seedlings were okay? At least you have backup seeds, but I hope this first batch toughens up and recovers!

  4. I've never seen them that twiny, but they are supposed to climb, so... it should all come out when they flower. In my experience, they do fine in sun or part-shady conditions.

  5. Hi Cinj, it's weird, because everything else down there under the light does great. I put the seedlings in spots where they get the most possible light, and the nasturtiums were no exception. Tomatoes and peppers are nice and stocky, so I'm just scratching my head about the nasturtiums.

    I hope so Eileen! If they don't perk up, it's off with their heads!

    I think they're hilarious Diane! They are the worst-looking plants I've ever started from seeds. I hope they toughen up too. Right now a stiff wind would probably do them in, the poor things!

    Me neither Monica ('course, I've never planted nasturtiums before ;) Thanks for the reassurance. I've got them in the sunniest spot we have. Maybe the new ones will camouflage these once they start growing. These are pathetic, but maybe now that they're outdoors they'll feel better.

  6. Again, I'm always amazed at how well your seedlings do in your basement. I imagine your nasturtiums to perk right up in the fresh air. If not, the new seeds will probably come right out and be happy.

    This is only my second year growing them from seed but haven't tried the vining ones as the bushy ones are travelers enough for me.

  7. I haven't tried this climbing variety before, Linda, but I did plant nasturtiums for the first time last year. I sowed some in a pot outdoors and sowed the rest directly in the garden. They did beautifully, so I didn't even try to start any indoors, but will direct sow them again. I know you have great success with indoor seed sowing in your basement, but a lot of my seedlings look leggy. I'm hoping they perk up once they go outside.

    No need for me to plant monarda seeds--I have lots of volunteers coming up from one little seedling I planted last year:)

  8. Germinating indoor has its problem... In our case, less light means leggy stem. Then they need time to adjust and strengthen the stem first before they start growing, once replanted.

  9. No worries, they'll probably get a lot bushier. Nasturtiums produce new leaves in the "crotch" between existing leaves and the main stem. So hopefully your plants will fill in.

  10. Hi Meems, it's quite a powerful light in the basement, and I even added two full-spectrum bulbs and a florescent to the mix once I started the seedlings. The extra light has made everything else down there grow even better than the seedlings I started last year (except, obviously, the nasturtiums.)

    Rose, I don't think I'll try nasturtiums in the basement next year! Hopefully your basement seedlings aren't quite THIS leggy! I've had bee balm (Jacob Cline, a hybrid) in this garden for a few years, but so far it's never seeded itself, and hasn't even spread. The native didn't bloom last year, but it's much bigger this year and probably will bloom. I suspect it much more likely to self-seed than the hybrid.

    I do hope they get stronger outside Bangchik.

    I hope you're right about them getting bushier Fern - if they don't they're outta here!

  11. Linda girl .. isn't this a blow when our experiments with seeds do this ? I am so curious to know if my Moon Flower seedlings will make it to full on adult hood with actual flowers I can see and smell ? .. I used to have these ones on pots and they were so pretty !
    I hope they work out for you and hey .. we have all been "there" but we keep on trying right ? LOL

  12. I've never tried starting them indoors. They are so easy to grow outside. I used to put them in my vegetable garden. I'm sure with a little sun and some TLC...they will flourish..if not the new seeds will sprout and you will have a full pot. Good luck....Balisha

  13. I've never grown them either so I won't be any help. Maybe sunshine is just what they need, hope so.

  14. I planted some nasturtiums several years ago. The plants are very long and can easily overtake a big flowerbed. Maybe, I need to put them in a hanging basket. The plants self-seed and I have volunteers already in the garden. They look thin and leggy too. I think your plants will be OK outside.

  15. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Thanks, Linda! Yours are a lot farther along than mine - I've read that they'll get bushier as they grow so you must be on the right track. I haven't grown them before either!

  16. They'll do just fine - think our minds have been twisted with this amazing weather thinking that we should be further ahead than we are. Resist the temptation to fertilize - they like poor soil. They won't quite look like those at Giverny, but I think you'll be quite pleased in a month or so!

  17. I've never really had good luck starting Nasturtium inside. It's the same "leggy" problem no matter what kind of light I provide. The last few years I've sowed them directly in the ground, with much better success.

    I bet yours will be fine, just don't fertilize them or anything, Nasties don't like an easy life. :)

  18. I've had the same problems with nasturtiums started indoors. Mine weren't transplanted to a spot that was sunny enough and they stayed pretty pathetic all year. I'm afraid I may have the same situation happening this year with some cosmos. Good luck with the direct sowed ones!!

  19. Joy, that's exactly what it is! Oh well, it's just plants, not exactly the end of the world! ;)

    Good luck with those moon flowers - they are so pretty!

    Hi Balisha, this is one experiment I won't need to repeat - next time, they'll just be planted be outside.

    I hope so too Marnie. If not, I'm glad I had extra seeds to try direct-sowing them.

    Thanks Tatyana! They might not be full and lush, but they seem healthy. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with them.

    I hope they get bushier Janit! They look pretty lame right now. It's fun comparing notes with everyone who's growing these. Good luck with yours, fellow nasty newbie!

    Thanks Barbara - I'll skip the fertilizer. If they like poor soil, that's what I'll give 'em!

    Thanks trueepicure! I wonder what it is about them that they don't like artificial light. Clearly, something's missing in the spectrum in the basement! If it's a hard life they like, a hard life they'll get!

    That's what I'm afraid of Rose - there's not much sun here. If they stay leggy, oh well, at least I'll know we don't have enough sun for them. Good luck with the cosmos!

  20. Linda, they do look a little leggy don't they? :) But the seeds you planted in the containers will soon catch up to and probablu=y even surpass these. They are very easy to start outdoors. Just be warned that these will grow and grow and grow! I kept having to trim mine back last year as they were taking over the other plants I had in the container.

  21. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Hey Ms. Linda,

    It seems we've forgotten about 'Spitfire' being an heirloom. I think that might have something to do with its being a little reluctant to take off when started indoors. Our heirloom tomatoes are the same way.

    I'm really anxious to see how all of our leggy nasturtiums do when they're out and about in the gardens. My guess is we'll be very pleasantly surprised (and I don't you'll be decapitating any of yours!).

  22. ha ha, just a little Beckie! ;) I think I'll have just these in the container, for now because anything else would probably smother them, and later, hopefully they will take over the container. (that's hard to believe based on their state now!)

    Hey TC, that might be the problem. Heirloom tomatoes and peppers are stocky and strong under my lights though, but clearly that's not the case with the nasturtiums. I hope I don't have to decapitate them. They do look they're starting to sprout new leaves in the crotches, as Fern said they would.

  23. Anonymous9:34 PM

    I started some Fordhook Climbing nasturtiums indoors last year and they looked more or less like that. They perked up nicely in the sun. I found that they did better in lots of sun but cooler temps. Mine didn't really take off until late summer/fall. But they were gorgeous then!

  24. Hi Jenna, they seemed to be perking up some, but the wind here the last few days hasn't done them any good. I think they'll do ok though, since I see new leaves developing at each node. We don't have a lot of sun here thanks to our large silver maples. The seed packet says full to part sun, and part sun's the most we have. I guess time will tell how they'll do.

  25. It's been a very, very cool spring, as I am sure you know! Can I send you a new packet? Let me know.

  26. Hi Nellie, I still had some seeds left - sowed them in my pot now that it's outdoors, and the new seedlings look much sturdier. The older seedlings are looking better too - sprouting new leaves, and the stems are a bit stockier. I think the key is just being patient and waiting until it's warm enough to sow the seeds outdoors. Thanks so much for the offer of more seeds - I'm pleased with the new seedlings' growth, and confident they'll be fine. I have my pot near our veggie garden, so they're getting several hours of sun every day, and looking very nice.


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