Growing Guide
photo not available

Garden cress

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Salad Greens

Also known as Peppergrass, Pepper cress, Mustard cress
Lepidium sativum
Brassicaceae Family

The easiest of the cresses to grow, garden cress can be harvested in as little as two weeks after sowing. It’s peppery taste adds zing to salads, but hot weather makes this cool-season crop bitter and inedible.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade
Prefers part shade during hot summer weather.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers moist, fertile soil with high organic matter and pH 6.0 to 6.7

Special locations:

  • outdoor containers - Good for windowsill gardens in winter.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Ease-of-care: easy

Flower color: white

Foliage color:

  • medium green
  • dark green

Foliage texture:

  • medium
  • fine

Curly cress leaves have ruffled edges resembling parsley

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

Special Considerations
  • frost
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Native to Egypt and Middle East. Cultivated in Persia around 400 B.C.
Special uses:
  • edible landscaping
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 55 F to 75 F

Days to emergence: 2 to 7 - In early spring when soils are cold (~45 F), germination may take two weeks.

Seed can be saved 5 years.

Maintenance and care:
Plant in early spring as soon as you can work the soil. Broadcast seed and cover very lightly with soil or compost. A small patch (1- to 2-feet square) provides plenty of cress.

Make succession plantings every 2 to 3 weeks until weather warms. Start planting fall crops when weather cools in late summer.

You can intercrop cress with carrots or radishes, or mix it with other salad green crops.

Keep cress well watered and provide shade when weather warms.

Cover with fabric row covers if flea beetles or other pests are a problem.

Flea beetles - Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove when temperatures get too hot. Control weeds.
Browse cress varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

Broadleaf cress has flat leaves and is best for salads.

Curly cress has leaves that resemble parsley.