Who can resist the spiciness of watercress in salads, sandwiches or even burgers, but did you know it's easy to grow your own? Read on to learn how to grow watercress in your own garden.The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

As a water-loving perennial, people often think watercress can only grow in fresh water. While this is true, you'll be happy to find that recreating these growing conditions using containers is simple. If you follow our tips, you can even grow watercress on a sunny windowsill!

Watercress has been cultivated since Roman and Greek times, and there's a reason for its long-term success. These fresh little leaves are packed with vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and folic acid, making watercress a nutritional powerhouse. It doesn't just apply to salad mixes. Add a handful of leaves to your smoothie for a healthy boost of vitamins, or try making bean soup or pesto to add to pasta. Either way, this versatile leaf is sure to taste delicious.

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Learning how to grow watercress can be very beneficial.

Watercress, also known as garden watercress, comes from the cabbage or mustard family. The botanical name of watercress is nasturtium, and it is easy to combine it with the colorful terrestrial nasturtium ornamental flowering plants. To add to the confusion, both plants are edible and both have a strong chilli flavour, but they are not botanically related.

Native to Europe and Asia, watercress is grown in streams, springs, slow-moving rivers and swamps in North America. As a semi-aquatic plant, watercress thrives in permanently moist conditions, either partially submerged or grown in soil that is regularly renewed with clean, clear water. Watercress does not grow in a stagnant environment.

Watercress has a dense, creeping growth habit, propagating freely from the leaf nodes, which is why you sometimes see hair-thin white roots on packaged watercress salads in supermarkets. Leaves medium green, alternate, pinnate complex, 3-9 leaflets, growing on hollow stems.

Clusters of four-petal white flowers on dark green/brown stems slightly above the carpet of leaves are attractive to water bugs, hoverflies and bees. Flower production is stimulated by the length of the day and tends to occur in mid-summer to late summer. The seed pods are similar in appearance to other brassicas, long, thin, upright, and turn brown when ready for harvest. The pods remain above water, break when ripe, fall near the parent plant, and usually germinate within a week to provide a continuous crop throughout the season. The seeds are small oval brown spots and are best sown wide. Each pod contains more than 20 seeds, and each cluster of flowers has about 20 seed pods. Watercress has two base roots to ensure plant placement and favorable root floating, and to assist in plant colonization progress.

Watercress has a vigorous growth rate providing you with harvest in just four to seven weeks. Think of watercress as a cut-and-return salad that will flourish throughout spring and into late fall. The leaves can become bitter and unpalatable after flowering, so picking them often will make your watercress last longer.

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All parts of watercress can be eaten, including the flowers and roots, but the latter tends to be bitter. Watercress is grown primarily for its delicious leaves and is best eaten raw for maximum nutritional value. The leaves can also be cooked in soups and stir-fries, or wilted like spinach.

If not handled properly, the seemingly innocuous little salad leaves can cause some problems, especially in the wild. The self-seeding and vigorous growing habit of watercress can produce leaves, stems and roots so large that it can clog drains and can even cause localized flooding.

Plant watercress

From March, it is possible to grow watercress outdoors if there is no severe frost. Young plants can be affected by sudden changes in temperature, so it's best to let the plant acclimate for a few days. If growing in containers, keep plants indoors until the first frost-free period. Plant watercress seeds outdoors starting in the spring, when average daily temperatures are between 50-60°F(10-15°C), or plant them indoors and then outside once the plants have grown and matured.

Full sun and partial shade are preferred lighting requirements, planted in gravel, sand, silt, or clay growing media in slow-moving water less than 2 to 4 inches deep (5-10 cm). As the name suggests, water is essential to growing watercress. Its natural habitat is fresh, clean running water along the sides of rivers, streams and ditches, where it can bury its roots in the water. This habitat can be recreated in a garden water feature or even planted in a container.

If using a store-bought transplant in a garden pond, simply place the plant in an aquatic pot filled with compost or soilless potting mix and line it with gravel to prevent the growing medium from floating. As long as the soil is saturated, the seed can be planted directly along the edge of the pond, as it grows naturally in that environment.

Don't have a garden pond? No problem. Watercress can be grown outdoors in containers or even on windowsills. Plant transplant or sow watercress seeds on the surface of the soil and place the pot in a deep dish filled with water. Keep the saucer full of water at all times and use rainwater whenever possible. Place the container in a sunny spot and watch your watercress grow! Although watercress is a perennial, it should be treated as an annual when grown in containers.

Watercress cannot tolerate stagnant conditions that encourage bacterial growth. To avoid this, rinse your pot at least twice a week, simply remove the saucer and water the container with fresh water to allow the excess water to drain away. Do this a few times, then return to the saucer and pour clean water over it to keep the soil moist.


Watercress is a self-sufficient plant that has few problems when grown in the right habitat. Follow these tips to learn how to grow watercress!

Sun and temperature

Plant watercress in full sun. While growing watercress in a more natural environment can be done in full sunlight, container-grown watercress needs some shade to prevent the container from drying out. Usda Cold-resistant Zones 3 through 11 are a good place to grow watercress, even though watercress is actually a cold-season crop. As summer temperatures rise, plants begin to bloom and overall growth slows. Plants are vulnerable to frosts in spring and winter. When temperatures begin to drop, the containers can be moved indoors to extend harvest time.

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Water and humidity

Plants that grow in natural habitats such as streams or ponds do not need additional irrigation. Container-grown watercress must be kept moist at all times by placing the pot in a deep dish of water and topping it up regularly as the water level drops. Rinse the container with fresh water twice a week to prevent it from stagnating and growing bacteria. Constant moisture is absolutely essential; You can place a shallow container in a larger container with extra water to ensure the growing medium has enough water retention, provided you regularly replace any standing water with fresh water.


Watercress is not picky about soil type and will grow well in chalky, sandy, silty, clay, loam and even gravel as long as the pH is maintained between 6.5 and 7.5. A pH of 7.2 is perfect. Soil aeration is key to plant health, usually in slow-moving waterways, but easily replicated in containers with regular clean water irrigation. It is important to keep the soil moist at all times.


Plants grown in containers may show signs of potassium, iron, and phosphorus deficiencies in the form of discolored leaves and a general dull appearance. Add fully soluble fertilizer or seaweed feed to the water every few weeks for added nutrients.


Generally, pruning is not necessary for growing watercress, although plants benefit from regular pruning to encourage new lush growth for sustained harvesting.


Propagate watercress from seeds or from subplants. The seeds of watercress are small, so it's best to sow them in large areas where you want them to grow, or directly in containers. Seeds are thinly sown on the surface of the soil and placed in a sunny location with a temperature of about 50-60°F(10-15°C) to promote germination, which usually takes 7-14 days.

Separating already established plants is a good way to propagate because the plants will grow quickly and you will be able to harvest the leaves quickly. Simply select a fresh tender area and cut off the desired amount with a knife or hand spatula, making sure to include the right amount of root. Plant outside or in a container of wet soil or compost. Stem cutting is also a viable option.

Another way to propagate watercress is to use leaves from store-bought salad bags. Those with hair-like roots can be placed in a shallow dish of water. In a few days, new plants will grow from the roots.

Now for the best part! Learn how to harvest and store your own grown watercress for maximum enjoyment.

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Harvest watercress 4-7 weeks after sowing. Note that many new leaves grow on the stem, about 4-5 inches long, which can be harvested as a post-cut salad. When pruning stems, be sure to leave some side branches and leaves at the roots to re-germinate the plant.


After harvesting, store freshly cut watercress leaves in a bag in the fridge for up to a week. Watercress is best fresh, so it's best to eat it as soon as possible for the best taste.


Although watercress is an easy plant to care for, there are some issues to be aware of when growing watercress. Take a look at the following example.

More and more problems

Drought and stagnant growing conditions are the main growth problems associated with watercress. If planting outside in an area with water, make sure the water supply is constantly updated to provide oxygen to the plant. Container-grown watercress should be watered daily and the container rinsed at least twice a week to prevent water and soil stagnation. Always keep the planting area moist to ensure the plants can still thrive.

Left to their own devices, watercress can clog drains and cause localized flooding. If your crop grows too big to handle, simply weed it to a manageable size.


Slugs and snails can be a problem when growing watercress. They like humid conditions and enjoy a constant stream of new shoots. Careful selection and removal of hiding spots such as wet wood, logs and plant debris will help reduce the number. Sprinkling organic slugs and snail bait on one side of the garden may distract them from your plants.

Whiteflies can breed rapidly on plants. The safest and easiest way to control them is to squish them with your hands or remove them with a gentle jet of water. Spider mites can be treated in a similar way. If that doesn't work, try using organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Densely planted seedlings will be affected by moisture. This can be caused by pathogens in the soil and seed trays or by garden soil becoming stagnant. To minimize risk, clean containers and seed trays thoroughly before use and always use fresh compost. Watercress prefers moist conditions as long as the moisture is freely drained and replenished frequently.

Crook rot is a fungal disease that is spread by spores, enters root cells and spreads to stems and leaves. Symptoms include deformities in various parts of the plant. The leaves and stems look swollen and stunted. There are no recommended chemicals or organic solutions to treat the disease. Container grown crops can be rinsed repeatedly over several days to remove any spores contained in the soil and plant, but if signs of deformity continue, dispose of the plant before it produces a new spore crop.







March 19, 2023

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