The benefits of growing fresh microgreens at home are too numerous to count. You can grow them year-round, the setup is affordable, and these little greens are jam-packed with nutrients and taste delicious. Micros are a no-brainer in soups, salads, tacos, omelets, smoothies, or anything else you can imagine. And yet growing these tiny plants is one of the most underrated gardening activities many growers aren’t doing. But do microgreens regrow after cutting?
Microgreens are tiny seedlings that are more mature than sprouts yet much smaller than salad greens. The first set of leaves they develop are called cotyledons or seed leaves. Then, if you grow your greens a bit longer, another group of leaves, called true leaves, will begin to sprout from the plant’s stem. And it’s because microgreens are harvested at such an early age that they retain most of their color, flavor, and nutrients.
You can’t regrow most microgreens after your first harvest because the seeds deplete their energy production within the first few weeks of their lifecycle. As a result, only a handful of microgreens may regrow after cutting, such as wheatgrass, peas, and leafy varieties like mixed salad greens.
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Let’s take a closer look into what prohibits microgreens from regrowing and how you can save a bit of money by choosing a suitable seed variety that helps you achieve a second harvest.
- Save money by knowing which microgreens seeds to purchase BEFORE growing them to increase your chances of producing a second harvest.
- Discover the two key factors that affect microgreen regrowth and why you must keep your growing area sanitized so you can keep your greens producing longer.
- Save time by knowing the three basic types of microgreens seeds to purchase so can have the best chance of second and even third harvests.
Why Most Microgreens Don’t Regrow After Cutting
Microgreens are typically a one-and-done crop after harvesting. However, larger seed varieties like peas and beans may have more energy to create a modest second harvest. Additionally, these varieties also have lower-growing and more abundant leaves. Unfortunately, growers may purposely or accidentally harvest their micros too close to the soil, cutting the plant’s lowest leaves. With no leaves to properly photosynthesize, growth slows, and the plant dies quickly.
When harvesting, use a sharp knife, scissors, or micro-pruners for the few microgreen varieties likely to regrow. Using something sharp when harvesting your plants ensures you don’t rip, tug, or pull on the delicate plants you’re counting on to regrow. Unfortunately, beginner microgreen growers believe their household scissors will do just fine. While that may be true, growers must realize that the blade’s dullness may restrict the plant to one harvest. 1
Remember, whether you are going for a second harvest or not, proper sanitation is always necessary when growing microgreens. If you want to save time and effort by learning the best – and easiest – ways to keep your growing area clean and those abundant harvests coming, be sure to read my article about how to get rid of mold on microgreens here.
Although technically not a second harvest, this slower germination process is nature’s way of preserving the crop for as long as possible, meaning there’s potential for a second harvest with a bit of luck. However, yields will be much lower than your initial harvest.
What Affects Microgreens Regrowth
There two main reasons why microgreens don’t generally regrow:
- There is not enough energy stored within the seed to produce a second harvest.
- Once harvested, most varieties of microgreens will only have the stems remaining. Without leaves, there is no way for the plant to generate energy from the little production left in the seed.
Seeds are living things. They need good energy to germinate and a proper protocol to thrive and produce. Although, as gardeners, it may be difficult to understand how we can only achieve a single harvest from our plants, that’s par for the course when it comes to growing your homemade micros.
However, if you are yearning for a second microgreen harvest, realize that if you achieve it, your crop will likely only be a fraction of your first. In addition, nutrient yields and taste will also nosedive a bit after your first harvest. So, I suggest thinking long and hard if you really want to wait for a sub-standard second harvest when you could have sown and grown an entirely new batch of nutrient-rich and delicious microgreens in the same amount of time. 2
If regrowing your greens, remember the time it takes to reach a second harvest depends on the variety. Faster-growing wheatgrass, for example, may only take a few days, while peas could take up to 10 to 14 days to pick.
How To Successfully Regrow Microgreens After Cutting
To successfully regrow microgreens, purchase larger seeds like peas, which contain more energy. Also, grow plants that develop more leaves than stems, like salad greens or wheatgrass. Micros with more leaves can better utilize the power from photosynthesis and thus stand more chance of growing another harvest.
Also, the cleanliness of the growing environment determines how successful you are in producing a second harvest. For example, common microgreens challenges like mold, poor drainage, and improper tool sanitization can impact fresh greens’ quality and quantity a second time.
The video I found below provides you with a detailed, step-by-step review of how regrowing microgreens is possible so you can maximize your seeds all while saving money in the process!
Remember, because you’ll be extending your crop’s life cycle by an additional 10 to 14 days or more, you’ll create an extended opportunity for mold to set up shop within your trays. So while waiting for your second harvest to mature, carefully observe your growing medium for any developing fungal issues that may develop in the interim. 3
Likewise, while waiting for your plants to develop a second harvest, you’ll want to keep your growing medium moist and well-draining so your greens remain healthy and vibrant. It’s also wise to know that during recent studies, contamination was especially present within microgreen hydroponic setups, as opposed to greens being grown in either soil or coco coir, a soil alternative that I tend to enjoy and prefer.
Although some microgreen growers enjoy using standard 1020 trays, you may consider deeper pots or containers if you are counting on second and even third harvests from your plants.
Although it’s a personal preference, some growers prefer deeper pots to allow for better-developed and structured root systems. The theory goes that because your plants will spend an additional week or so in their container, they need a bit more space to stretch their roots. Test this out for yourself, but I’ve grown several harvests of wheatgrass just fine in standard 1020 trays without issue.
Which Microgreens Regrow After Cutting
The most common microgreens that regrow after cutting are salad greens, wheatgrass, peas, and beans. Although less nutrient-dense, second and third harvests are typical of these varieties because they retain their leaves and can therefore photosynthesize.
If your goal is to regrow your micros, you want it to be worth your while. So let’s check out a few varieties that can provide secondary harvests in better detail below.
Pea shoots are one of the most common microgreens that can be regrown. Peas are fast growers and continue to flourish even after their initial harvest. In addition, pea seeds are larger than most varieties, giving them a better chance than most microgreens at further production.
When harvesting peas, you’ll want to harvest above their last or lowest leaf, providing the plant another chance to photosynthesize and regrow. If you cut below the last leaf, leaving only the stem, chances are the plant won’t recover.
Because wheatgrass is a leaf from tip to stem, it is common and relatively easy to enjoy multiple harvests from a single sowing. Wheatgrass regrows rapidly from its cut stems, and you’ll see new growth in just a few short days after your first harvest.
It won’t be uncommon to see wheatgrass tinge slightly yellow due to the fewer available nutrients within each successive wheatgrass harvest. This discoloration is normal, and unless mold becomes an issue in your tray, there is nothing to be concerned about. Be sure to cut no lower than 2 to 3 inches from the top of your growing medium to give your wheatgrass the best chance of regrowing quickly. 4
Although subsequent harvests will contain fewer nutrients, these robust little plants still retain higher-than-normal levels of vitamins and minerals and go to show just how rich and potent they are when compared to their more mature vegetable counterparts. A great resource that helps you learn more about the fantastic nutrition these little plants pack is in the National Library of Medicine.
Like wheatgrass, salad greens are typically easier to regrow since they grow leaves instead of long stems. And just like the pea shoots mentioned above, so long as you leave the lowest growing leaves intact, typically 2 to 3 inches above your growing medium, you’ll increase your chances of another harvest.
Although successive microgreens harvests yield less and nutrient levels drop, you can maximize your seeds and prolong your plant’s life cycle with suitable varieties. However, choosing only the greens with the best chance of regeneration is best to save yourself time and money.
Because the lifecycle of microgreens is typically only a few weeks, it’s your choice if you’d like to spend the same amount of time trying to achieve secondary harvests or starting anew with a fresh crop. Although this list isn’t exhaustive, in my experience, it seems most practical to regrow peas, salad greens, and wheatgrass because these selections have larger seeds and abundant leaves, helping these greens produce more energy.
Additionally, the advantage of regrowing your greens means you save a bit of money by not using fresh seeds or spending extra time setting up a new growing medium.
Have you regrown microgreens with consistent success? We’d love to know. Drop a comment below and join the discussion!