Growing Watercress Without A Stream

Growing watercress is certainly easier if you have a small stream on your property (how about beside a pond waterfall?).

But moving water is not critical for success.

Starting Watercress

The easiest way to start this plant is to lay a paper towel in a shallow bowl and moisten it. Lay the seeds on the towel and keep the towel quite damp (a quarter inch of standing water should do it). If you keep it damp and approximately 60F, the seeds will germinate in 10 days. The tender roots are quite fibrous. Transplant into individual peat pots and grow for three weeks before setting outdoors.



If you start them early indoors – it will be necessary to grow them on in individual pots but the soil in the pot must be kept soggy because if you let these seedlings dry out, they'll get tough and new growth will not be succulent. After all danger of frost, set outdoors approximately 8 inches apart, in the full sun. Keep damp and harvest regularly until the summer gets too hot and growth starts to get spindly and soft.

I've also seed the seedlings put in a shallow saucer (the kind for underneath flower pots) and the saucer filled (and kept filled) with water. The seedlings grow like mad if they are kept damp.


Harvesting is as simple as taking a few cuttings of the leaves. You'll see the mature plants sending runners off the mother plant and starting to mound up. Trim these older plants back to 4 inches and they'll leaf out again. The runners of this rapidly growing watercress can be allowed to grow and be harvested.

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Sowing In Garden?

Seed can be directly sown in the garden but unless the area is quite damp and slightly shaded, I suspect you'll be disappointed. Sow and barely cover the seed about the middle of May for harvests in July.

Taste Is Better

You'll likely find the taste is better in the cooler season of spring and fall and it deteriorates in the heat of summer. Let me suggest you cut the plant back to 4-inches when the taste starts to deteriorate in the spring and when the temperatures cool down in the fall again, you'll have excellent plants waiting for you.

I note that leaves kept in a bowl of water in the refrigerator are useful for 7-10 days.

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