Watercress, a leafy green that’s part of the broccoli and kale family and packed with vitamins and minerals, is a popular kitchen must-have for several reasons.
It’s an excellent antioxidant, may have anti-cancer properties, beneficial for heart health, and boosts immune system function.
Sure, you can buy small portions of watercress at the local supermarket, but most avid leafy green appreciators want to grow it at home.
Growing watercress from seed is easy to do. In fact, many who grow it cite the process as rewarding. When you grow watercress at home from seed, you may even save money while promoting better health (if you eat it, of course!).
If you don’t know where to get watercress seeds or how to grow them when you get your hands on some, you’ve come to the right place.
This article will point out the best places to buy watercress seeds, plant them, and further germinate and grow them. We’ll even cover some helpful tips to ensure that your watercress plant is strong and provides a bountiful yield.
Simply use our reference guide to find the best quality watercress seeds online and then follow the tips and advice included in this guide!
You’re a few steps away from knowing all there is to know about buying watercress seeds, germinating them, and providing the ideal conditions for the best possible harvest.
Watercress at a Glance
Popular Watercress Varieties
Many watercress varieties fall into the same groups, and all share a similar spicy flavor profile. That said, some flavors do vary according to the variety, and of course, the season you’re harvesting in. There are four primary groups of watercress as follows.
- Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) grows best when grown freely in water, pungent flavor, and strong texture.
- Garden cress (Lepidium sativum) grows well in soil, tolerates minimal frost, flavor similar to spicy horseradish.
- Upland cress (Barbarea verna) is often sold in plastic with the roots still intact, fairly frost tolerant, thinner stems than other varieties, delicate flavor, and not so spicy.
- Korean watercress (Water dropwort) is a sturdy plant that grows well in water and moist soil, crunchier than other varieties with a bitter taste profile.
Best Places To Buy Watercress Seeds
Watercress Seed Planting & Germination
Planting and growing watercress at home is fairly easy to do in a container or by creating a bog. The steps below teach you how to grow watercress from seed by creating a bog, but if you prefer, simply use a container with a few drainage holes and follow the steps that follow after step one.
Step 1: Create a bog
Choose a cool but sunny spot in your garden to create your watercress bog. Dig a hole that is around 2’ from side to side and 12’’ deep. Now, line the hole with plastic pond liner. Simply place the sheet of pond liner over the hole and gently press it inside. You can cut any excess liner off, but make sure there is a 3-4’’ lip at the top.
Step 2: Create drainage holes
Use a garden fork to pierce holes into the plastic pond liner on the sides. Watercress likes water, so you don’t need too many drainage holes.
Step 3: Combine 1 part soil, compost, mushroom compost, coarse builder’s sand
Add equal portions of garden soil, compost, mushroom compost, and coarse builder’s sand to the bog. Add one cup of slow-release fertilizer to the mixture and make sure everything is well mixed. The bog should be filled up within 1-2’’ of the top.
Step 4: Top up with garden soil and fill with water
Cover any remaining exposed liner with extra garden soil by topping up the bog. Then, fill the bog with water.
Step 5: Sow seeds ¼’’ deep with ½’’ spacing
Now, plant each watercress seed about ¼’’ deep into the soil. Try to space them ½’’ apart and then sprinkle a thin layer of garden soil on top. Water them with a fine spray of water so that the seeds aren’t washed away or pushed into a new position.
Step 6: Keep the bog moist
Keep adding a fine spray of water to the bog daily to ensure that the soil never dries. Keep doing this until the seeds germinate.
Step 7: Thin the seeds to 5-8’’ apart once germinated
The seeds should take 7-14 days to germinate. Then, you need to thin them out to allow for more growth. At the same time, pay close attention to maintaining adequate moisture in the bog.
Step 8: Cut stems and leaves a few inches above the ground to harvest
After 20 or so days, the watercress can be harvested. The idea is to cut the stems and leaves close to the ground (within a few inches).
As a perennial, the watercress will keep growing back year in and year out. You can harvest watercress in any season, but harvest during the coolest months to get the most out of its flavor profile.
Tips for Growing Watercress from Seed
Below are a few top tips for ensuring you get the most out of the process when growing watercress from seed.
- Keep the growing medium damp throughout the process. Watercress thrives in a wet environment.
- Minimum sowing temperature is 46 degrees F (8 degrees C).
- For best results, sow watercress seeds in Spring.
- When seedlings are big enough, transplant them into 3-3.5 inch (7.5-9cm) containers.
- Harvest regularly to avoid the plants becoming spindly and leggy.
- Store seeds in an airtight container in a low-humid, cool location.
Growing & Caring for Watercress
You’ve created your bog (whether outside or in a container), and your watercress is growing well. But now, you have to ensure that you provide your watercress with the ideal growing conditions to ensure that they keep producing and offering you a brilliant yield. Below are a few top pointers for growing and caring for watercress.
Ideal Soil for Watercress
Watercress grows really well in various soil conditions, but that said, it still has its preferences. The ideal PH range for watercress is 6.5 to 7.5. If you’re growing watercress in pots, you will find that it does well with a mixture of peat and perlite or vermiculite.
You can also create the ideal soil conditions by combining one part compost, one part garden soil, one part mushroom compost, and a small amount of fertilizer.
Lighting Requirements for Watercress
Watercress grows best in cool but sunny spots. If you can find a partial sun spot or a full shade spot that still gets bright light, your watercress plants will be very happy. If you only have a sunny spot, pay extra attention to keeping the soil damp.
Watering and Fertilizing Watercress
Watercress thrives in poorly drained soil. If the soil is damp all year round, you will have thriving watercress plants.
Around three weeks after your watercress seeds have sprouted, you can cut or prune them. Harvesting the watercress like this will encourage it to grow thicker and lush. Cut the watercress down within a few inches of the soil.
Watercress Common Questions
Is It Hard To Grow Watercress From Seeds?
Watercress is a cool-season crop that has proven to be very easy to grow from seeds. Best of all, you can harvest it all year round, adding it to salads, soups, smoothies, and sandwiches.
How Do You Get Seeds From Watercress?
If you allow watercress to grow without harvesting it, it will eventually develop white flowers. As the flower matures and dries out, the seeds will be available. Simply place a piece of pond liner on the surface of the soil and then shake the watercress plant, which should make the seeds fall out and onto the liner.
Does Watercress Grow Back After Cutting?
Yes, new growth will develop from the ground up after each cutting of the watercress plant. In addition to that, as a perennial, the plant will continue to grow, year after year.