Southern Watercress, Water Cress
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Nasturtium officinale is commonly known as Watercress, it is an aquatic, hardy perennial herb that is one of the easiest plants to grow, especially for hydroponic cultivation. It looks delicate, but has a sharp, peppery taste. It enjoys "super-food" status due to its health benefits, i.a. antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds. The natural habitat of this fast-growing plant is in streams and it is an indicator of water quality. It can multipy itself and become invasive.
For fresh use, harvest watercress sprigs year round when they are 10 - 15 cm in length, aoubt 8 weeks after sowing. Simply cut the cress; the plant will send out new shoots soon. You can get up to 10 pickings a year. Leaves turn bitter once flowers start blooming.
The preferred method, because cultivated plants are prone to viruses. Sow the tiny seeds lightly in Spring, in wet, enriched soil. Germination in about 8 days.
Almost any part of the plant, even a single leaf, will form roots in ideal conditions - clean, slow flowing water, about 5cm deep.
Watercress loves clear, running water, but is very adaptabe. Found in the wild in flooded areas. Ideal to plant in a water feature in the garden.
It will do well in a pot that stands in a container filled with water.
Attracts useful insects
Bees like the pollen-rich flowers. Host to beneficial spiders and beetles.
Repels harmful insects
Deters cucumber beetles.
Cultivated in Europe since the 1600's.
Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun
Soil PH preference
Helps to treat various ailments eg. digestion, TB and arthritis, and reduces the risk of disease. High in Vit A and C, Iron and Calcium. Traditionally used on hair, to promote growth.
The sprouts, leaves and stems are used in countless ways in salads, sandwiches and cooked dishes. Nutrition wise in the same league as spinach and cabbage.
Snails. Whiteflies and Spider mites are problems, but can be held in check by ladybirds.
Grow alongside aquatic plants.