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One of many plants going by the common name of rock cress, this perennial forms splendid mats of color in the spring. As the name implies, this hardy plant is at home in a rock garden and its associated well-drained soil. Rock cress works exceptionally well along walls, borders, and even underneath spring-blooming bulbs to add color to a garden.
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6 to 12 inches
From 1 to 2 feet
garden plans for Rock cress
With its compact, low-growing habit, rock cress acts as a color filler in the lower levels of your garden. For most of the growing season, these plants are a rich green, but during spring they explode into mounds of pastels, ranging from the lightest pinks to the richest purples. The flowers of rock cress are borne so fully that you cannot even see the foliage. The flowers are small but give off a lovely fragrance, so plant some along a path so you can enjoy the fragrance. If this spectacular display of flowers is too short for you, look for varieties with variegated foliage in either white or gold to continue the colorful display. While rock cress are grown most often in the ground, they do well in containers for an eye-catching spring show.
Rock Cress Care Must-Knows
Knowing that these plants hail from tough mountainous terrain, you can probably guess that their one major requirement is having well-drained soil. The fact that they are often found in some of the smallest cracks and even pure gravel gives you an idea of how sharply drained the soil needs to be for rock cress to thrive. This plant is extremely drought-tolerant and grows well in a container. Due to their rocky upbringings, these plants prefer alkaline soil. Be careful not to overwater or plant in a moist area because too much moisture is sure to kill them.
Rock cress requires full sun. In less than full sun, blossoms will not be as bright or as plentiful. Full sun encourages the tightest habit, too. After their spectacular display of flowers, rock cress benefits from a shearing to stay nice and neat. If you leave spent blossoms on rock cress, there is a good chance it will reseed. Consider this a benefit because rock cress can be fairly short-lived as a perennial. Though they don't tend to be invasive, you can control where you want more rock cress by sprinkling the seeds.
In areas with warm, humid summers, rock cress may have a shorter life-span. Plant them in part-shade to increase the longevity.