Cress Growing Guide

All you need to know to grow successfully!

Plant Family:
Plant Type:

Square Foot Spacing:

Typical Season:
Cool season
Typical Zones Grown In:
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 2, 3
Growing Difficulty:

Cress is a leafy green herb that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It has small, delicate leaves and a peppery, tangy flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in salads, sandwiches, and garnishes. Cress is easy to grow and can be grown both indoors and outdoors in containers or garden beds. It prefers cool temperatures and well-draining soil. Cress is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron. Some popular varieties of cress include watercress, garden cress, and upland cress.

Brief Growing Guide

  1. Soil Preparation: Cress prefers a moist, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility.
  2. Planting: Sow cress seeds directly into the soil in early spring or late summer. Scatter the seeds thinly over the soil surface and lightly cover them with soil. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes 7-10 days.
  3. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season, but avoid overwatering which can cause the plants to rot.
  4. Fertilization: Cress does not require heavy fertilization, but you can apply a balanced organic fertilizer or compost tea every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season to promote healthy growth.
  5. Pest and Disease Control: Cress is generally pest and disease-free, but can sometimes be affected by aphids, flea beetles, or downy mildew. Use organic insecticides or companion planting with beneficial insects to control pests, and avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases.
  6. Harvesting: Harvest cress when the leaves are about 2-3 inches tall, which usually takes 2-3 weeks after planting. Cut the leaves close to the soil surface with a pair of scissors. Cress can be harvested multiple times, but allow some of the leaves to grow back before cutting again.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow fresh and flavorful cress organically.

Planting Guidelines

The following are general guides to follow. However, nothing is set in stone. Feel free to experiment!

How to Start:
Direct Sow, Start Indoor
When to Direct Sow:
March, April, May, June, July, August, September
When to Start Indoors:
March, April, May, June, July, August, February
Sprouting Time:
2-14 days

Ideal Temperature (C):

13 – 24
5mm deep
Spacing (cm):
Row Spacing (cm):
Sun Exposure:
Part Shade, Full Sun
Maturity Time:
20-30 days
When To Harvest:
April, May, June, July, August, September, October
How to Harvest:
There are two methods of gathering salad greens. You can use scissors to cut everything about 2-5cm (1-2″) from the ground, when the plants are about 10-15cm (3-4″) tall. Or, you can pick individual leaves as they’re needed. The first cutting may contain more brassicas than lettuces (arugula, mizuna) but if you cut the mix back when the leaves are still small, the lettuce will catch up. The salad greens will regrow for a second harvest in another 2 or 3 weeks.

Health Benefits

Growing your own food is one of the best things you can do for your health. Let’s check out some of the health benefits!

Is It Edible?
Edible Parts:
Potential Health Benefits:
Nutrient-Dense, Heart Health, Anti-Inflammatory , Bone Strength

Tips to Growing Organically

Growing without the use of pesticides and herbicides is easier than you may think and it’s better for the environment!

Companion Plants:
Onion, Chive, Mint, Arugula
What Plants to Avoid:
Common Pests:
Slugs, flea beetles
Common Disease:
Bonus Grow Tips:
Seed every three weeks from March to September for a continuous harvest. Provide frost protection with a cloche or heavy row cover starting in late October, and many mesclun types and mixes will continue to grow all winter.

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