High Desert Plant Finder & Guide

perennial

Rock Cress

Arabis caerulea

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Rock Cress (Arabis caerulea) at Moana Nursery

Rock Cress in bloom

Rock Cress in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  6 inches

Spread:  18 inches

Sunlight:  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone:  3

Other Names:  Wall Cress

Description:

Captivating flowers in shades of lilac cover this low growing lacy groundcover in the spring; it is perfect for rock gardens, border edges, and quite lovely massed in sunny naturalized areas

Ornamental Features

Rock Cress is smothered in stunning lightly-scented lilac purple daisy flowers with gold eyes at the ends of the stems from mid to late spring. Its attractive small deeply cut ferny leaves remain green in color throughout the year. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Rock Cress is a dense herbaceous evergreen perennial with a ground-hugging habit of growth. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. It is a good choice for attracting bees to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Rock Cress is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • Border Edging
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Rock Cress will grow to be only 6 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 18 inches. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant should be grown in a location that is shaded from the hot afternoon sun. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in both summer and winter to conserve soil moisture and protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division.

Rock Cress is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its spreading habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Characteristics
Rock  Edging  Garden  Groundcover  Container 
Applications
Flowers  Foliage Color  Texture  Winter Value  Attracts Wildlife 
Ornamental Features

Please note: Our Plant Guide is all about plants that will work in the high desert. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a current list of plants in stock on hand at each location or at our farm. We purposely do not sell or ship plants via the internet. Plant questions and availability are best determined in-store.