plants grown in space

Here is a list of plants that have been grown in space.  We’ve divided the plants into three categories.  Research plants are plants that have been grown in space that are primarily for research and not typically grown for sustenance.  Sustenance plants are plants that could serve as viable crops in the future.  Ornamental plants are plants that serve as decoration and general foliage.


Arabidopsis thaliana

A. thaliana is the model organism for plant biology due to its short lifecycle, small size, and useful genomic data.  A. Thaliana was the first plant to ever flower in space, in 1982 aboard Soviet Salyut 7.  This plant has been grown on many space missions due to its immense research value.  It is not a viable source of food for astronauts, but the discoveries made using A. thaliana provide insight that can be applied to all varieties of plants.

Learn more: Arabidopsis thaliana

Year: 1982

Spacecraft: Soviet Salyut 7

Brachypodium distachyon

Brachypodium distachyon is a research grass species most recently grown on the International Space Station under the management of Dr. Patrick Masson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Year: 2018

Spacecraft: International Space Station

Brassica rapa

Brassica rapa is a plant with tasty subspecies such as Bok Choy and Napa Cabbage.  The educational tool Wisconsin Fast Plants is a selected species of B. rapa. It was grown on the Russian space station MIR in 1997 and was a joint venture between NASA and the Russian Space Agency.  Literature

Year: 1997

Plant Habitat: SVET

Spacecraft: MIR

Ceratopteris richardii

Ceratopteris richardii (also known as Triangle Water Fern) spores were germinated on STS-93 in 1999.


Year: 1999

Spacecraft: Columbia


In an amazing first, China successfully grew cotton on the surface of the moon in 2019.

Year: 2019

Spacecraft: Chang’e-4 (on the surface of the moon)


Mizuna Lettuce

Mizuna lettuce has been grown on the International Space Station. This Japanese lettuce was involved in an experiment with water uptake and fertilizer.  You can read about it here:

Mizuna lettuce grown in space

Genome-wide expression analysis of reactive oxygen species gene network in Mizuna plants grown in long-term spaceflight

Year: 2010

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Zucchini was officially grown in space in 2012 during Expedition 30/31 on the International Space Station.  The zucchini was grown in a plastic bag and nutrient solution, using aeroponics.  The medium of transfer was still water, but was in the form of a fine mist, and therefore basically air.  This was to reduce a large volume of water from being used. Astronaut Donald Pettit created a blog about growing a space zucchini, which you can read here.

Year: 2012

Plant Habitat: Ziploc Plastic Sandwich Baggie

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Super-dwarf wheat was planted in 1995 on MIR.  Super-dwarf is a variety of wheat with poor agronomic traits but small size for growth in a confined area such as a spacecraft.  Literature

Additional Literature- courtesy of Dr. Oscar Monje

Microgravity effects on leaf morphology, cell structure, carbon metabolism and mRNA expression of dwarf wheat

Microgravity effects on thylakoid, single leaf, and whole canopy photosynthesis of dwarf wheat

Microgravity does not alter plant stand gas exchange of wheat at moderate light levels and saturating CO2 concentration


Year: 1995, 2002

Plant Habitat: SVET, PGBA

Spacecraft: MIR, ISS

Red Romaine Lettuce

The “Outredgeous” variety of red romaine lettuce was grown and eaten by astronauts on the International Space Station in 2015 on ISS Expedition 44.  It was grown in the VEGGIE plant growth system.

Year: 2015

Plant Habitat: VEGGIE

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Rice germinated in space as part of an experiment designed by students from Nebraska on Skylab, NASA’s repurposed Saturn V that served as a space station.  Gravitropism and root orientation were examined.

Year: 1973

Plant Habitat: Unnamed Skylab Growth Chamber

Spacecraft: Skylab


Year: 2002

Plant Habitat: PGBA

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Year: 2002

Plant Habitat: PGBA

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Year: 2002

Plant Habitat: PGBA

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Broccoli was flown to the International Space Station in 2018 as part of a microbial study.


Year: 2018

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Radish plants grown in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) were harvested on Nov. 30th, 2020.

Astronauts Harvest Radish Crop on International Space Station

Year: 2020

Spacecraft: International Space Station


Astronaut Don Pettit grew sunflowers for his personal biology experiment in 2012.

Year: 2012

Spacecraft: International Space Station



Zinnia bloomed under the care of Scott Kelly in 2016 in the VEGGIE plant production unit.

Year: 2016

Plant Habitat: VEGGIE

Spacecraft: International Space Station

this list is currently being expanded