DIY Network

How to Grow Watercress

As the name suggests, watercress is a water-loving plant. Give it the proper site and you’ll enjoy this peppery perennial green for years to come.

More in Outdoors

watercress is a water loving plant
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Purchase the Seeds

Watercress is perennial plant with hollow stems and small heart-shaped leaves. It has a peppery flavor that's sharp but not bitter. As the name suggests, watercress is a water-loving plant, and it typically is found growing near creeks and ponds. Popular varieties include English Watercress and Broad Leaf Cress.

Step 2: Create the Bog

Watercress grows best in cool but sunny spots. If there is a small creek or stream on your property, grow watercress there. Otherwise, it may be necessary to create a bog. Dig a hole about 2' across and 12" deep (Image 1). Loosely fit black plastic pond liner over the hole, pressing it down with your hands. Trim the excess off the top, leaving a 3" or 4" lip at the top. Use a garden fork to punch a few holes in the sides of the liner for drainage (Image 2).

Step 3: Prepare the Site

Combine one part garden soil, one part coarse builder's sand, one part compost, and one part mushroom compost. Add a handful of slow-release fertilizer to the mix. Pour the mixture into the bog, filling it to within 1" or 2" of the top. Cover the remaining exposed liner with soil. Fill the bog thoroughly with water.

mix combination of sand,compost and fertilizer

Step 4: Plant the Watercress

Plant watercress seeds in the bog by sowing them 1/4" deep and about 1/2" apart. Cover the seeds with fine garden soil and gently water them in. Keep the bed moist until the seeds germinate.

final step is to water bog thoroughly

Step 5: Cultivate the Watercress

Thin seedlings to about 5" to 8" apart after germination. Maintain adequate moisture levels in the bog. In hot weather, watercress will be covered with small white flowers. When cool weather returns, cut back the flowers to encourage new tender growth.

create a boglike setting to grow watercress

Step 6: Harvest the Watercress

To harvest watercress, cut the leaves and stems a few inches above the ground. Watercress is a perennial, meaning it will come back year after year, and new growth will come up from the ground after each cutting. Although it can be harvested any time of year, its flavor is best during the cooler months.

harvest watercress as needed for salads or meals