When to Plant Garden Cress

Garden cress

Garden cress can be planted directly in the garden, or it can be sprouted indoors. Plant garden cress seed in early spring; it will germinate quickly in soil that is 65°F (18°C).

Garden cress is a fast-growing edible herb that has a sharp, tangy flavor like mustard. Garden cress is grown in soil. Garden cress is not to be confused with watercress which is an aquatic plant.

Garden cress is a cool-season crop. Sow garden cress in early spring and again in mid to late summer for a fall harvest. Garden cress can tolerate mild frost, but it is best to protect it with a row cover if temperatures are expected.

Garden cress can be broadcast and grows well in a dense stand; thinning is not necessary. Grow garden cress in light, moist soil rich in organic matter. Garden cress is shade tolerant and can be grown between taller crops. Make succession sowings every 2 weeks until hot weather arrives.

Upland cress is also grown in soil. It is not as commonly grown as garden cress. It has compact rosettes with parsley-like leaves. It also has a peppery flavor. It can be grown just like garden cress.

Upland cress

Cress seed sowing dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Jan. 1-Feb. 1
Feb. 8Jan. 1-Feb. 15
Feb. 18Jan. 15-Feb. 15
Feb. 28Feb. 1-Mar. 1
Mar. 10Feb. 10-Mar. 15
Mar. 20Feb. 20-Mar. 15
Mar. 30Mar. 1-Apr. 1
Apr. 10Mar. 10-Apr. 15
Apr. 20Mar. 20-May 1
Apr. 30Apr. 10-May 10
May 10Apr. 20-May 20
May 20May 1-June 1
May 30May 15-June 1
June 10May 15-June 15
Parsley, garden cress, leaf lettuce
Parsley, garden cress, leaf lettuce

Cress planting details

  • Sowing depth: ¼ inch (.6 cm)
  • Space between plants: does not require thinning
  • Days to sprout: 2-7
  • Days to harvest: 14-21
  • Storage period: 1 week

More about planting cress:

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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