Nasturtiums are Nibbled

I plant Nasturtiums every year. I love the bright flowers and their distinctive smell – a spicy sort of peppery scent. Their leaves are attractive too. Nasturtiums sprawl and climb and are brilliant for ground cover and filling gaps.

Some people loathe them I know that.

They say that nasturtiums attract the wrong sort of butterflies which leads to masses of caterpillars and chewed up plants. But that’s precisely why I plant them.

aster & white butterfly

I think that all butterflies are worth inviting into the garden. Sowing several packets of Nasturtium seed gives me lots of plants to use around the garden. I plant them in my veg and herb beds and I plant them in containers so they are portable too.

Here in my garden Nasturtiums are offered to our butterflies as a sacrifice. The way I see it is that they can have my Nasturtiums if they leave my crops alone. So far my strategy has worked. Most of the edible plants in the garden are looking lovely. They have lush whole leaves perfect for us to eat. The butterflies have gone for the Nasturtiums instead.

Butterflies and caterpillars are quite fascinating to watch.

The butterflies lay a cluster of tiny eggs on the back of one leaf. When the caterpillars hatch they eat that leaf then set off in procession to find another one. Soon parts of your Nasturtium plants will look like this…


But some of your plants will survive giving you beautiful blooms and lush foliage and interesting seed pods.



  • Nasturtium seeds are large and the seedlings develop quickly making these ideal plants for children to sow and grow.
  • In your greenhouse Nasturtiums will attract White Fly leaving your Tomatoes and Cucumber plants pest free.
  • You can eat the peppery Nasturtium leaves, flowers and seed pods in a salad.

I hope that you enjoyed this post about Tropaeolum majus commonly known as Nasturtiums.
You may also like Flowers in the Veg Plot.
I appreciate your comments and I will try to answer all your questions. Thanks for visiting.


Happy gardening.    Gillian  🙂

Do you grow Nasturtiums in your garden?

14 thoughts on “Nasturtiums are Nibbled

  1. I grow nasturtiums every year, but they are never eaten by caterpillars, must be a UK species. Slugs and snails, however, will eat the blossoms. It is gross to pick a bloom and see a snail dining inside! Ee-yew! 😉

    1. I think It’s mainly the White Butterflies (Large White and Small White) that lay their eggs on plants in the Cabbage family. This year I’ve had huge black slugs eating the whole plant too!

  2. Yes, I always grow Nasturtiums. I love the climbers that clamber up through shrubs. Sometimes they just don’t grow well in a particular place and I can never really work out why. Maybe they are like crops and need to be rotated. I would be happy to see a group of caterpillars like yours, but sadly we get very few up here.

    1. I’ve had that happen too Annette. I’m not sure about rotating them (but they are in the cabbage family) but it’s worth a try. I realised that some of my plants were being eaten by a gang of huge black slugs. They did such a good job of it that whole plants went missing overnight! I always grow plenty of Nasturtiums and have spare pots of them I can move into gaps if necessary.

  3. Such a lovely post. Really like your writing style and the butterfly love. Butterflies are the best. I have a question (told you I would!): ordered a bunch of Spring bulbs and some pre potted plants to plant out (peonies, some vines). When should I plant them? They are currently sitting on our table cos it’s been so rainy in London and had a lot on at work. But I’m scared the plants might die if I leave them inside much longer. As for the bulbs I haven’t a clue. Google hasn’t been too much help on this one! Thanks in advance xx

    1. Plant them in your garden or in containers as soon as possible. There’s no need to plant Tulips until October/November but any other bulbs, perennials and climbers would be best planted as soon as you can. They will die if you keep them indoors too long. It’s too hot and dry for them inside. Keep them in a cool light spot until you can plant them out. Wait until your garden isn’t waterlogged and then it’s safe to plant them.

  4. I love nasturtiums, too. They self sow to produce an amazing range of colours and have taken over much of the veg garden this year, but I don’t mind as they are such a cheerful sight. You’re right about the smell, I think the seed pods taste a bit like capers. No wonder the caterpillars like them.

    1. They can romp away but they are so easy to pull out if you need the space for something else. I’m not fond of the seed pods (or capers!) however the flowers spice up a plain salad nicely.

  5. I agree with you Gillian, nasturtiums, with their beautiful colours, habit, and ease of growing are so nice to have in the garden. I grew them again for the first time since I was a child this year. I wrote about them on my blog, and was interested to find that one of the common names. I tend to squish the caterpillars though, but some obviously make it, but at least most of the plant looks attractive.

    1. Just read your post and that’s interesting Noelle. I had no idea of their other common name. Around here they are simply known as Nasturtiums so that just shows me why it’s so important to use the Latin names whenever I can. That’s the universal language and there’s no getting plants mixed up!

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