The simplest way to grow garden cress is in shallow flats of potting mix on a deck—or in a sunny window indoors in winter. It can even be grown on constantly damp paper towels or hemp bags.
Garden cress, a relative of watercress, germinates and grows incredibly quickly. Within 5 to 10 days, sprouts topped with tiny, dark green leaves will be 2 to 3 inches tall and ready for harvest as tasty microgreens.
Add these nutrient-rich fresh sprouts to salads, omelets, sandwiches or any other dish that needs a watercress-like kick.
Common name: Garden cress or pepper cress
Botanical name: Lepidium sativum
Plant type: Annual
Height: 12 to 18 inches (harvest when just a few inches tall)
- Sun: Full sun or partial shade
- Soil: Any kind
- Moisture: Evenly moist
- Mulch: None
- Pruning: None
- Fertilizer: None
Pests and diseases
- Sow seeds thickly (don’t presoak) in damp potting mix or on a wet paper towel in a shallow flat; if desired, put the flat in a dark spot for a few days to encourage succulent white shoots.
- Start small batches of seeds every few weeks for a continuous harvest.
- Garden cress prefers cool temperatures, so it may not grow well outdoors during the heat of midsummer.
All in the family
- Garden cress is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), a large family that includes many familiar vegetable crops and garden weeds, including watercress ( Nasturtium officinale).
- Garden cress is related to pepperweed, a common garden weed, and can, in fact, become weedy itself if allowed to reseed.
Where to buy