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How to sow and grow Indian cress

Indian cress - also known as nasturtium - is a perfect companion plant for your garden: it lures pests away from your vegetables, and bees and butterflies love it. The flowers, young leaves, and seeds are edible.
Oost-Indische kers
Indian cress

What is Indian cress?

Indian cress is an annual, herbaceous plant that produces long tendrils.

You might think it comes from India, but it actually originated in Peru. The Spainish brought it to Europe in the 17th century. It owes its name to the taste and smell of the leaves, which are similar to watercress and star cress.

Indian cress attracts aphids and cabbage white butterflies, which keeps them away from your vegetables, like dino kale and bak choi.
Oost-Indische kers in een Makkelijke Moestuinbak
Indian cress spills over the edge of a garden box

Indian cress is super healthy

Indian cress is an excellent natural antibiotic. All of its parts - the seeds, leaves, and flowers - help you fight infectious diseases and inflammation. It also builds up your immunity and makes you less susceptible to colds, flu, and other illnesses.

Indian cress contains a lot of vitamin C, which inhibits bacterial, viral, and fungal growth and is good for blood circulation.
Super healthy Indian cress leaves

More about our Indian cress

Indian cress - also known as nasturtium - is one of the best companion plants for your vegetables. It lures harmful insects away from other plants. Bees and butterflies love it. The flowers, young leaves, and seeds are edible.

  • Species name: Indian cress
  • Family: flower
  • Plants per square patch: 1
  • Height: about 25 cm tall with tendrils reaching up to 3 meters long
  • Sowing time: mid-April and May
  • Sowing depth: 2 to 3 cm
  • Germination: about 15°C in 7 to 15 days
  • Time to bloom: 8 to 10 weeks
  • Sunlight: can grow in sun or semi-shade

Looking for Indian cress seeds? We sell seed bags separately, or you can find Indian cress seeds in our Specials seed pack.

What do you need to grow your own Indian cress?

Here's everything you need to grow Indian cress:
  • a 30x30 cm vegetable garden patch with airy, nutrient-rich soil mix
  • Indian cress seeds
  • a place with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day

In other words, an MM-Mini, or a square patch in one of our garden boxes, filled with MM-Mix.

Growing Indian cress in this perfect soil mix is super easy. If you use poor-quality (potting) soil, it's much harder and the results will be disappointing. So just go for the best.
Bloemen en zaden van Oost-Indische kers
Indian cress flowers and seeds

How to sow and grow Indian cress

Our Indian cress is included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next one.

So you don't need to know how to grow Indian cress in advance: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:
Oost-Indische kers in een Planty
Indian cress growing in a Planty Garden

Level 1: Sowing the Indian cress

Since the plant produces long tendrils, the best place to sow is either along the trellis - so you can guide it upwards - or on a side patch - so it can grow over the edge. Loosen up the moist MM-Mix and sow like this:
  1. poke 1 hole in the patch (2 - 3 cm deep)
  2. put 2 to 3 seeds in each hole
  3. carefully cover up the holes with soil mix

After about 2 weeks, you'll see something come up. It depends a bit on the weather.
Oost-Indische kers bij het klimrek van de Makkelijke Moestuinbak
Indian cress on the trellis

Level 2: Indian cress seedlings

As soon as you see the first seedlings, you know things are going well. They probably won't all come up at once, but give it another week.

Then it's time for the next level.

Level 3: Thinning nasturtium seedlings

When several seedlings come up in the spot you sowed, choose the best one and remove the rest: that's called thinning out. It might sound harsh, but it's necessary. The remaining plant will then have enough room to grow. 
Klein plantje van de Oost-Indische kers
Small Indian cress plant after thinning

Level 4: Caring for your Indian cress plant

After a week or 2, your seedlings will become small plants. You hardly need to do anything: if the weather's dry, give them some water and remove the odd dead or yellow leaf. Easy 🙂 
Oost-Indische kers tegen de klimcourgette in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Indian cress growing next to a climbing zucchini

Level 5: Flowering Indian cress

About 8 to 9 weeks after sowing, you'll see the first flowers.

The plants will be growing fast and producing long tendrils. If they get too big, just prune them back. Indian cress plants are tough.
Bloem van de Oost-Indische kers
Indian cress flower

What do you use Indian cress for?

The edible flowers brighten up any salad.

Like the young leaves, they have a fresh and tangy flavor. So you can also toss the leaves in a salad.
Salade opkleuren met bloemen van de Oost-Indische kers
Salad with Indian cress
You can make a type of caper with fresh Indian cress seed balls, salt, and vinegar.

Have a cold? Chew on a young leaf every now and then: it's good for building resistance and it helps soothe a sore throat.

The last levels

Indian cress can be left in your vegetable garden all year round. The plant continues to bloom until it gets really cold.

It grows fast, so just check back any shoots that get too big or look ugly.

As soon as it gets really cold and starts to freeze, the plant goes limp. It's time to empty out your patch or MM-Mini and get it ready for another round.
Uitgegroeide Oost-Indische kers aan het eind van de zomer
Mature Indian cress near the end of summer

So: ready to sow your own Indian cress?

It's super easy to grow, a great companion plant for your vegetables, edible, and healthy too.

Plus: with our app and materials, it's practically impossible to fail 😉

Order your Indian cress seeds here or get growing with a complete starter kit:

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