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Rock Cress

Aubrieta deltoidea

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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Light:

Sun

Type:

Height:

6 to 12 inches

Width:

From 1 to 2 feet

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Special Features:

Zones:

4-8

garden plans for Rock cress

Colorful Combinations

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.

See more of the best plants for rock gardens here.

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.

Use these plants for a no-fail trough garden.

Plant Rock Cress With:

Basket-of-gold
Basket-of-gold is one of those plants that loves to grow in the least likely of place -- cracks between paving stones, the edge of gravel paths and patios, rocky outcroppings, between the stacked stones of a retaining wall, and more. It loves a baked spot with excellent drainage but will struggle in hot, humid areas and tends not to do well in the South.But where it does well, it's a showstopper. It will reseed prolifically in little cracks, filling an area each spring with dazzling neon yellows. After it finishes blooming, the grayish-green foliage makes an attractive mat in the perennial garden.
Dianthus
The quintessential cottage flower, pinks are treasured for their grasslike blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicily fragrant. Depending on the type of pink, flowers appear in spring or summer and tend to be pink, red, white, rose, or lavender, but come in nearly all shades except true blue. Plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Foliage is blue-green.Shown above: 'Firewitch' dianthus
Sedum
Sedums are nearly the perfect plants. They look good from the moment they emerge from the soil in spring and continue to look fresh and fabulous all growing season long. Many are attractive even in winter when their foliage dies and is left standing. They're also drought-tolerant and need very little if any care. They're favorites of butterflies and useful bees. The tall types are outstanding for cutting and drying. Does it get better than that? Only in the fact that there are many different types of this wonderful plant, from tall types that will top 2 feet to low-growing groundcovers that form mats. All thrive in full sun with good drainage. Ground cover types do a good job of suppressing weeds, but seldom tolerate foot traffic. Some of the smaller ones are best grown in pots or treated as houseplants.
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