Garden cress (Lepidium sativum) is a cool season annual, also known as pepper grass because of the leaves peppery flavor. It grows well in containers, and is excellent on a sunny windowsill in the kitchen for easy access. The baby leaves can be harvested as soon as the true leaves appear as Garden cress is frequently grown for sprouts.
Growing the Herb Garden cress
Cress grows well in loose soil and a sunny location. Start outdoors between one and two weeks before the average last frost. Sow seeds ½-inch deep, spaced 1 inch apart. Rows should be 6 inches apart. You can also place a line of seeds along prepared rows and cover lightly. Keep consistently moist. Seedlings should emerge in 5 to 15 days. Thin seedlings when ½ inch tall, to 2 inches apart.
For a continuous crop, repeat the planting every 10 to 14 days starting in spring. Cress can be started indoors 2 - 4 weeks before average last frost and then transplanted in garden after danger of frost. It can also be planted in containers for inside or outside. Fill container with well-draining soil. Scatter seeds across top of container and cover with ½-inch layer of soil. Keep moist.
Garden cress grows to a height of 12 to 20 inches (30 - 50cm).
Plant Garden cress seeds 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Thin to one plant every 2 inches (5cm) when seedlings are 1/2-inch (1.25cm) tall. Rows should be spaced 6 inches (15cm) apart.
Preferred pH Range
Garden cress prefers a relatively narrow pH range between 6.0 (mildly acidic) and 7.0 (neutral).
Cress is propagated from seeds in spring and fall. Seeds can be started inside or outside, directly in the garden or in containers.
Seed Germination Period
Garden cress seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 5 to 15 days.
Fast growing, can sprout in as little as 24 hours. Use entire baby plants for micro greens, or repeatedly cut back when thickly sown. Garden cress is an entirely different variety than Watercress and should not be confused.