Just like the name watercress denotes, this plant is water-loving one and thrives nowhere else but where there is sufficient water content. It is an edible plant with a peppery taste and is best used in salad mixes. Watercress packs some nutritional value making it a healthy edible. It is rich in Iron, Calcium, folic acid, and some essential vitamins. Naturally, it grows along streams and waterways but most importantly, it also needs a little sunlight to thrive luxuriantly. It is revered as one of the oldest leafy vegetables known and used by humans and comes from the family of cabbage which is why using it in salads is healthy and tasty. Do you wonder on how to grow watercress?
It is also a perennial plant and can be grown in containers around your home. This option is important since you can’t possibly be going to waterways and streams to harvest watercress as they propagate in their natural habitat. While you can grow watercress from their seeds, this article will be showing you how to grow watercress from cuttings. Growing watercress from seeds or cuttings is practically the same method with just slight differences. The choice of container, pot, or any other water-based media is all yours to make.
With that foundation on watercress laid, let’s delve right into the details on how to grow watercress from cuttings.
How to Grow Watercress from Cuttings
Step 1: Purchase the Stem from a Grocery Store
Watercress is a household grocery leaf used for salads and sandwiches so it will be common in grocery stores. Head down to one of the stores and buy a substantial amount of the stems. The seeds can be gotten elsewhere but for the cuttings, they are very easy to get and a grocery store is an answer.
You need to find a healthy stem to use as cutting when purchasing. A healthy stem will produce healthy sprouts.
Step 2: Strip Back the Leaves
When you’ve gotten the stems, you need to strip off the leaves so you can know you are making progress when the new ones start to germinate. Stems are propagated bare or planted bare like cash crops.
Step 3: Provide the Enabling Environment for Growth (Pot or Container)
Now, this is the most important step. Watercress needs a waterlogged environment to grow and more significantly thrive.
It doesn’t need to be waterlogged, it can be flowing water, the background should just be made of water. This doesn’t mean the environment should be flooded or you should use an ocean. What you will be doing, in essence, is replicating the natural habitat for watercress in your home.
For starters, you can just do a little experiment: get a small bowl, a transparent one will be better. Pour a little water in it and place the stem cut inside. The water should be moderate and not consume the entire stem. Leave it after a couple of days and come back. Some leaves would have emerged from the stems and the watercress would have sprouted some new roots that are appreciable in length. You can use this to propagate the watercress.
This experiment would only suffice to prove to you that watercress needs a hydro-soil to thrive. When you’ve decided that you want to use a pot or container, then you can proceed to the next step.
How to Grow Watercress Step 4: Prepare the Media (Pot or Container)
Let’s say you are using a container. Pick a container that has some drainage outlets and is at least 6 inches deep. Include a layer of landscaper’s cloth at the base of the container. The essence of this is to prevent the soilless mix from leaving the environment when water is added.
Alternatively, you can use multiple small containers and house them all in a large drainage tray. If you are using a single large container, you will need to place it in a large drainage tray or bucket. If you are using large earthen pots you don’t need any drainage outlet, just place the pot in a pond or a waterlogged area.
You could be lucky to have such provisions in your garden where water resides or a fountain and that would make an excellent environment. Stagnant water has so many adverse potentials to the plant so you need to be changing the water in the drainage tray twice weekly.
You can include pebbles into the large drainage tray so the water can flow freely into the container. The large drainage tray will contain the water and not the container which is why there should be holes in the container so that the water can flow from the drainage tray into it.
The ideal PH of the container or pot should be within 6.5 and 7.5.
Step 5: Fill the Container with Soilless Mixtures
You don’t need earthen soil here, however, you can use a soilless mixture that drains very well. The soilless mixture should contain peat moss and vermiculite or perlite.
Step 6: Now Add the Stem Cuts
With all of the above in place, you can now add the stems into the whole mixture by placing them deep into the soilless mixture at a depth of ¼ inch.
Separate the stems from each other by three to four inches apart. Then water the entire combination to almost half the soilless mixture. Do not water until it exceeds the middle.
How to Grow Watercress Step 7: Provide Sunlight to the Plant
Place the watercress in a position where sunlight can get to it indirectly for at least six hours but never allow direct rays of the sun hit it else it can burn the feeble plant.
They are about the softest plants ever coupled with the fact that they are in constant moisture.
This method of growing watercress is for indoor purposes and different from the method used in producing a bountiful harvest of watercress. Fertilizers can also be added to enhance their growth and that is entirely optional. They can thrive well in their moist environment without the help of fertilizer. For emphasis sake, always remember to change the water in the drainage tray or large saucer that provides the stationery moist environment for the watercress to thrive.