Alaska Scarlet nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
Hailing from a family of annuals most commonly known for all-green foliage accompanying the bright flowers, Alaska Scarlet steps out of the pack with its red-orange blooms and lively green-and-white marbled leaves. Other plants in the popular Alaska series sport red or yellow flowers, but all boast the same fancy leaves.
Like all nasturtiums, Alaska Scarlet is edible. In fact, nasturtiums used to be grown mainly for their delicious flowers and leaves. Add them to a salad for a peppery taste (but don’t use pesticides on or near them if you plan to eat them).
This colorful annual is easy to grow. Sow the seed directly in the garden in spring, after the last frost date. Keep the seeds, and later the plants, watered, but don’t worry about fertilizing. Too much nitrogen and the plants produce lots of leaves, but few flowers. In fact, poor soil is where this annual thrives. When temperatures climb, either cut your plants back by half and baby them until cooler fall temperatures arrive, or replace them with heat-loving annuals, such as marigolds or petunias.
TYPE Annual BLOOM Red-orange in spring and early summer LIGHT Full sun to part shade SOIL Lean, well-drained PESTS None SIZE 8 to 15 in. tall, 1 to 12 ft. wide HARDINESS Cold: Annual Heat: AHS zones 12 to 1
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