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.

 

RESEARCH PLANTS

 

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

 

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

Spacecraft: MIR

 

Ceratopteris richardii

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

Literature

Year: 1999

Spacecraft: Columbia

 

SUSTENANCE PLANTS

 

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

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

Spacecraft: International Space Station

 

 

Wheat

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

Year: 1995

Spacecraft: MIR

 

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

Spacecraft: International Space Station

 

Rice

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

Spacecraft: Skylab

 

ORNAMENTAL PLANTS

 

Zinnia

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

Year: 2016

Spacecraft: International Space Station

 

this list is currently being expanded