How Do You Plant Cress?

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Cress

Growing Cress

Grow your own cress at home with our detailed guide on 'How Do You Plant Cress?'. Harvest fresh greens all year round by learning the essentials on how to plant cress. Whether you're an experienced gardener or a beginner, these straightforward steps will help you produce a healthy, productive cress plant in no time. Our article delves into everything you need to know, from choosing the right type of soil and the best lighting conditions, to ongoing cress care and harvesting techniques. So why buy store-bought greens when you can easily grow crisp, peppery cress right in your own home or garden? Continue reading for our comprehensive guide that makes growing cress a breeze!

How Do You Plant Cress?

Growing Cress Basics

Cress is a fast-growing herb that can be easily cultivated in your own garden or indoors.

It's perfect for beginner gardeners and a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and soups.

Supplies You'll Need

  • Packet of cress seeds
  • Planting container or tray
  • Quality potting soil
  • Watering can or spray bottle
  • Plastic wrap or a clear lid

Planting Steps

  1. Fill your planting container with quality potting soil.
  2. Evenly spread the cress seeds on top of the soil.
  3. Gently press the seeds into the soil, ensuring good contact.
  4. Water the soil until it is evenly moistened.
  5. Cover the container with plastic wrap or a clear lid to create a greenhouse effect.
  6. Place the container in a warm location that receives indirect sunlight.
  7. Keep the soil moist by watering it regularly or misting it with a spray bottle.
  8. Within a week, you'll see the cress seeds sprout.
  9. Remove the plastic wrap and continue to care for the growing cress.
  10. Harvest the cress when it reaches the desired height, usually within 2-3 weeks.

Tips for Success

  • Choose a container with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to mold or rot.
  • Provide at least 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight daily.
  • For a continuous harvest, sow new seeds every 2 weeks.
  • Ensure good air circulation to prevent the growth of fungus or pests.
  • Use organic fertilizers sparingly, as cress grows well without much assistance.

Now that you know how to plant cress, it's time to get your hands dirty and enjoy the fresh, peppery taste of homegrown cress in your dishes!

Step 1: Prepare The Container

Cress is a very easy plant to grow and perfect for beginners. Start by selecting a shallow container with holes for drainage. A window sill or countertop is a great spot.

Step 2: Select A Soil

Next, fill the container with a soil mix that is specially formulated for edible plants. While any good quality potting soil will do, the soil should be water-retentive so it won't dry out quickly. Avoid using fresh compost or manure as cress prefers a higher pH level.

Step 3: Plant The Cress Seeds

Now it’s time to plant the cress seeds. Spread the seeds evenly in a shallow layer across the soil, and lightly cover them with the soil mix. Gently pat down the surface to ensure the seeds have good soil contact. Keep the seeds moist but not soggy.

Step 4: Place The Container In Bright Sunlight

Once the cress seeds are planted, put the container in a location that receives breakfast to midday sunlight. A windowsill is ideal. If need be, supplement the sunlight with a grow light to ensure the cress receives at least 8 hours of sunlight.

Step 5: Water Regularly And Watch For Sprouts

Every couple of days, mist the cress seeds with a spray bottle until the surface of the soil is moist. Keep it evenly moist, but avoid overwatering. In just 5 to 10 days you should see the cress begin to sprout. That means it’s time to begin thinning them out and harvesting the young leaves for salads or as a garnish. Enjoy!


1. How do you plant cress?

To plant cress, start by preparing a container or garden bed with well-draining soil. Sow the cress seeds directly into the soil, about 1/4 inch deep. Make sure to space the seeds 1 inch apart to provide enough room for growth. Lightly cover the seeds with soil and water gently. Place the container or bed in a sunny spot, as cress requires at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Water the seeds regularly to keep the soil consistently moist. Within a week, you'll start to see sprouts emerging. In around 2 to 3 weeks, the cress will be ready to harvest.

2. What is the best time to plant cress?

The best time to plant cress is during the spring or fall seasons when the weather is mild. Cress is a cool-season crop that thrives in temperatures between 50-70°F (10-21°C). It can tolerate light frost but prefers cooler temperatures over scorching heat. Planting cress in the right season will ensure optimal growth and prevent premature bolting.

3. How often should I water cress?

Cress requires consistently moist soil for proper growth. Water the seeds and young plants regularly, aiming to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering. Using a fine mist or a watering can with a gentle flow will prevent disturbing the delicate sprouts. As the cress matures, you can reduce the frequency of watering, but still, monitor the moisture level to ensure the soil doesn't become too dry.

4. Can I grow cress indoors?

Yes, you can definitely grow cress indoors. It is a great option for those who have limited outdoor space or live in colder regions. Choose a shallow container with drainage holes and fill it with a quality potting mix. Sow the cress seeds as directed and place the container in a sunny spot near a window or under grow lights. Follow regular watering and care routine, ensuring that the container receives sufficient sunlight. Indoor-grown cress usually germinates and grows quickly, providing you with a fresh supply of this delicious leafy herb.

5. How long does it take for cress to grow?

Cress is a fast-growing herb, and you can expect it to reach maturity in just 2 to 3 weeks after sowing. Within a week, you'll see the first sprouts emerging from the soil. As long as you provide the ideal growing conditions, such as adequate sunlight, moisture, and suitable temperatures, cress will quickly develop its leaves and be ready to harvest within a few weeks. This quick growth makes cress a popular choice for those looking for a fast-yielding crop.

6. How do I harvest cress?

To harvest cress, wait until the plants have reached a height of about 2-3 inches. Using a pair of scissors or garden shears, cut the cress just above the soil level. Avoid pulling the plants out by their roots as this can disturb the surrounding soil. Harvesting cress regularly by snipping off the outer leaves will encourage continuous growth. If you prefer a more mature harvest, allow some plants to reach a height of 6 inches, but remember that cress tastes best when the leaves are young and tender.

7. What are some common problems when growing cress?

While cress is generally easy to grow, it can still face a few challenges. Overwatering can cause root rot, so it's important to ensure proper drainage. Pests like aphids and slugs may also attack cress plants. Keeping the garden beds weed-free and inspecting the plants regularly can help spot and control any issues. Providing adequate airflow and not overcrowding the plants can prevent fungal diseases. Additionally, bolting, or premature flowering, can occur if the plants are exposed to high temperatures, so ensuring cool conditions is crucial for successful cress cultivation.

8. Can I save cress seeds for future planting?

Yes, you can save cress seeds for future planting. Allow some of the cress plants to fully mature and flower. As the flowers fade, they will develop seed pods containing the seeds. Wait until these pods turn brown and dry on the plant. Collect the pods, and gently crush them to release the tiny seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place in a labeled envelope or container. Properly stored cress seeds can remain viable for up to 5 years, ensuring you can continue growing cress for multiple seasons.

9. Can I eat cress flowers?

Yes, cress flowers are edible and can be a flavorful addition to your dishes. The flowers have a delicate, peppery taste that complements salads, soups, and garnishes. However, do keep in mind that allowing the cress to flower means the plants are nearing the end of their lifecycle, and the leaves might become less tender and flavorful. If you primarily grow cress for its leaves, harvesting it before the flowering stage is recommended.

10. What are some culinary uses for cress?

Cress is a versatile herb that can be used in various culinary applications. Its peppery flavor adds a zing to salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Cress can also be blended into dressings, pestos, and sauces for an extra burst of freshness. Additionally, it can be used as a garnish or mixed into cream cheese, omelets, and quiches. Its vibrant green color and unique flavor make it an appealing herb to experiment with and elevate your dishes.

Remember to always refer to seed packets or consult reliable gardening resources for specific growing instructions tailored to your location and cress variety.

By following these simple guidelines, you can enjoy a successful and rewarding experience growing cress. Embrace the quick growth and tangy flavor of cress in your gardening endeavors and culinary adventures!

In conclusion, planting cress is a simple yet rewarding gardening endeavor. With its quick growth, versatility, and nutritional value, cress is a fantastic addition to any garden or even a windowsill pot. By following the steps outlined in this article, from preparing the soil, to sowing the seeds, to providing adequate water and light, you can ensure a successful cress harvest. Remember to keep in mind the timing of planting cress, as it thrives in cooler temperatures. Regularly watering your cress plants and harvesting them once they reach the desired size will promote continuous growth and a bountiful yield. Whether you choose to add these peppery leaves to salads, sandwiches, or garnishes, their fresh and vibrant flavors will undoubtedly enhance any dish. So, go ahead and start planting cress in your garden – it's a small but incredibly gratifying step towards a more self-sustainable and flavorful culinary experience, and an opportunity to reconnect with nature. Get your hands dirty and let the wonders of gardening unfold before you. Happy gardening!

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