You Don’t Need a Garden to Grow Cress

Garden cress provides a wonderful peppery bite to salads and—another bonus—it just might be the easiest plant to grow in the world.

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)

Family: Brassicaceae

Growing conditions

  • Sun: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: Any kind
  • Moisture: Evenly moist


  • Mulch: None
  • Pruning: None
  • Fertilizer: None


  • Seeds

Pests and diseases

  • None

Garden notes

  • 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