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Grow flower cress

22 March 2023

Flower cress is a joy to grow! Strong-growing and richly flowering without requiring much, what more could a man wish for?

With its strong colours, the flower cress offers sunshine even during an overcast and slightly chilly summer! It is a classic in both flower beds and pots, it is both richly flowering and strong growing.

Red flower cress is grown together with yellow marigold.
Flower cress thrives perfectly together with other easy-to-grow favourites, here with marigold. Photo: Lovisa Back

When should I sow?

Flower cress can be sown directly at the end of May or beginning of June. If you want to bet on extra early flowering, you can sow the seeds indoors earlier. Since cress grows quite quickly and can soon become really big, you don't need to start too early, 2–3 weeks before planting is usually enough.

How do I sow flower cress?

Soak the seeds a day before sowing, so that they germinate more easily. The seeds are quite large and should be sown about 2 cm deep.

At the front of the border, the creeper 'Crazy Jewel' spreads across the aisle. At the front of the flower bed, the creeper 'Crazy Jewel' spreads over the aisle. Choose for yourself whether you tie up the vines or not. Photo: Annika Christensen

Which soil is best suited?

Just like many other plants, flower cress wants openings and moderately moist soil. However, it is a tough guy that usually settles for most soils.

Which location is best?

Cress grows best in sun to partial shade. They grow on even in the shade, but don't bloom as much.

How long do peony flowers bloom?

Just like many other summer flowers, it is a good idea to pick off overblooming flowers. When the plant begins to set seed, the flowering subsides.

What nutrition should I give?

Cress generally does not need very much nutrition. Too much of the good stuff can, on the contrary, lead to the absence of flowering and to mostly a lot of leaves. Of course it's also beautiful, but a shame for those who were hoping for floral splendor.

Should flower cress be topped?

In general, you do not need to top – that is, cut off – flower cress.

Can flower cress overwinter?

Flower cress is grown as a yearling and the plant dies at the edge of autumn. However, it happens that it self-sows if you let it go to seed. The self-sown plants are easy to recognise thanks to the round, disc-shaped leaves.

Red flower cress decorates a lovely summer salad. A flower mandala of flower cress.
Both leaves and flowers are edible - they are great for decorating summer salads with. The flower cress blooms profusely and invites you to flower crafts! Photo: Annika Christensen

Can I eat flower cress?

Flower cress is edible, which is why it is commonly grown among the vegetables in the kitchen garden. Both leaves and flowers have a peppery taste and the seeds can be added like capers.

Which kind of cress should I choose?

Flowering cress is usually divided into shrub cress and creeping cress. Both have trumpet-shaped flowers but the plants differ in growth habit - the shrub grass becomes a small shrub, the creeper grass grows long vines.

Another variety, which is a different species but in the same genus as the flower cress, is the butterfly cress. It grows high and is cultivated as an annual up here in the north. It got its name for its lobed flowers. It also has fantastic, five-lobed leaves.

Tips on varieties

Shrub cress

Crazy Jewel is a mix with the yellow 'Primrose Jewel' and red 'Mahogony Jewel'. If you only want yellow flowers, you can choose 'Golden Globe' or 'Peach Melba'. If you want to grow the red ones, there is the variety 'Whirlybird Mahogny'.

If you want something more discreet, 'Black Velvet' is a good choice. As the name suggests, the flowers are dark velvety red. Also 'Salmon Baby' differs from the yellow and red geni, as double, salmon-pink flowers.

Creeping cress

'Yellow Troika' is a lot of everything! The yellow flowers have red centres and the green foliage is beautifully speckled with white. 'Milkmaid' is more discreet with lovely creamy yellow flowers with a golden centre.

Seeds for creeping watercress are also available in several lovely mixing bags. 'Out of Africa' flowers in shades of yellow, orange and red and is particularly splendid with its greenish-white foliage.