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False Rockcress Plants: Learn How To Grow Aubrieta Groundcover

False Rockcress Plants: Learn How To Grow Aubrieta Groundcover


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Aubrieta (Aubrieta deltoidea) is one of the earliest bloomers in spring. Often part of a rock garden, Aubretia is also known as false rockcress. With its darling little purple flowers and dainty leaves, Aubrieta will scramble over rocks and other inorganic items, covering them with color and distracting the eye. Aubrieta groundcover is also remarkably drought tolerant once established and can handle the harsh heat of a full sun rockery. Read on for some tips on the care of Aubrieta and how to use this magical little plant in the garden.

Aubrieta Growing Conditions

Aubrieta is a perennial suited for United States Department of Agriculture zones 4 to 8. This temperate to cool region plant can spread up to 24 inches (61 cm.) over time and forms lovely purple carpets of color in spring. It is non-invasive and self-sufficient for the most part. Learn how to grow Aubrieta in your landscape so you can enjoy its charm in your border, rockery or even container garden.

False rockcress plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. The plant prefers sites that are rich in lime. These easy-care plants are also adapted to partial shade locations but some blooms may be sacrificed. Aubrieta is a member of the mustard family, a notoriously tough group of plants. It is deer resistant and tolerant of drought once established.

Once the full heat of summer is released, the plants tend to die back a bit and in fall much of the foliage will disappear in cooler climates. Aubrieta groundcover can tend to get a bit scraggly over time and responds well to shearing back after bloom or in fall.

How to Grow Aubrieta

Aubrieta grows well from seed. It is easy to establish and requires a minimum of water as the seedlings grow. Choose a sunny spot in the garden in early spring with well-draining soil or alternately start seeds indoors in flats 6 to 8 weeks before planting outdoors.

Remove any debris and till soil to a depth of 6 inches (15 cm.). Sow seeds on the surface of the soil. Water gently with a diffuser attachment to prevent drowning seeds and pushing them under too much soil. Keep the area moderately wet but not soggy.

Once seedlings appear, keep weed pests from the area and thin plants to one every 10 inches (25 cm.). Over the spring, false rockcress plants will gradually spread out to cover the area in a thick carpet. Young plants may develop a few spotty flowers but a full flush of blooms should not be expected until the following year.

Care of Aubrieta

These little plants couldn’t be easier to manage. Cutting the plants back after bloom can discourage seeding and keep the plants compact and tight. Every 1 to 3 years dig up the plant and divide to prevent center die out and propagate more plants for free.

Keep Aubrieta moderately moist especially during the growing season. False rockcress has few disease or insect pest issues. The most common problems occur where soil is clay or drainage is poor. Make sure you amend soil and check for percolation prior to planting them out.

There are several cultivars available with flowers of red, lilac and pink. These lovely plants are beautiful cascading over a wall or even a container. They tend to look a little sad in early spring, as some of the foliage will have dropped but quickly recover with warming temperatures and spring rain.

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What Are The Uses of Ground Cover Plants?

It is frequently a matter of concern when we find ourselves with a gap, slope, or shady corners in our yard where nothing seems to ever grow.

It is the wish of every gardener to find the perfect plants to fill in these imperfections to prevent soil erosions and the growth of stubborn weeds.

The best go-to options are the flourishing, ever adorable ground cover plants that control erosion and possess a root system that is effective for keeping out weeds and holding back soil from eluding.

Other uses of ground cover plants are

They are used to control erosion on steep slopes. Although it is often said that grass might seem to be the best ground cover plant for slopes, however mowing grass on a steep slope is often tricky and quite dangerous.

For shady areas, under shrubs and trees. When the ground cover is planted under large trees, they reduce the mower’s damage to the root of the tree.

Some groundcovers species are less sun tolerant and require less sunlight and less moisture and nutrients than grass.

Therefore, they are in less competition with already existing plants like shrubs and trees.

Additionally, when planted in overwintering areas, they serve as an ideal habitat for beneficial pollinators and insects.

Having these insects and pollinators is advantageous to the plants in your garden because they promote pest control, which could have an adverse effect on your plants.

They are of great use in extremely dry or wet locations. These ground cover plants act as insulators that offer a layer of protective coverings for the soil in extremely dry or wet environments.

They help to regulate and maintain the soil’s cool temperature during summer by protecting it from excessive sunlight and the warm heat during winter.

This ground cover plant is of great advantage to other plants in the garden, because its protective covering will help protect roots from being destroyed by low temperatures in colder seasons.

Their ability to trap moisture in the soil protects roots from drought or washing away during extremely wet seasons.

This feature also helps in reducing the need to frequently water plants and, in return, save energy and cut water bills.

Lastly, they are excellent in areas where tree roots grow too close to the surface and prevent grass from growing.


Care Of Aubrieta Groundcover: What Are Aubrieta Growing Conditions - garden

Perennial, Aubrieta Deltoidea

Got a Rock Garden? Then, Rock Cress is for you. Rock Cress is native to the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. They were just too attractive to keep in one small area of the world. So today, you find Rock Cress growing all over the U.S., and in other parts of the world, too.

Rock Cress produces a profusion of fragrant blooms in the spring. Colors include white, pink, rose, mauve, and lavender. Butterflies are attracted to the flowers.

Rock Cress find themselves at home in rock gardens, borders, edgings, and as ground cover. They are good for hills and slopes, where is it difficult to grow grass or other plants.

Did you Know? The leaves and flowers of Rock Cress are edible, cooked or raw. Not surprisingly, it has a pungent, cress-like flavor.

Rock Cress are grown from seeds. They can be directly seeded into your flower garden, or seeded indoors for transplanting later. Sow Rock Cress seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/8" of fine garden or potting soil.

Seeds have a long germination period, requiring two to three weeks. For indoor starts, try a seedling germination mat.

Established plants can be propagated by division of the rootballs.

Ideal plant spacing is 15" -18". Rock Cress plants will spread out to form a loose mat, filling in the space between plants.

How to Grow Rock Cress Plants:

Growing Rock Cress plants is easy. Grow Rock Cress in full sun. Plants will tolerate a light or partial shade. They will do well in fair to poor soils, with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Sandy, loam, or clay soil is fine. It should be loose, well draining. Keep soil moist during germination.

Rock Cress likes slightly dry soil. Water only during the hottest, driest period of summer. Add a general purpose, high nitrogen fertilizer when first planting, to help them to get a good start. Add a high Phosphorous fertilizer just before blooming.

Rock Cress will bloom in the spring of the second year after planting, and every year afterward. (They are worth the wait!) Prune plant and remove dead flowers after blooms have died, to give the plant a clean, healthy look, and to promote new plant growth.

Rock Cress plants are hardy, and will survive light frosts before going dormant for the winter months.

Rock Cress is seldom bothered by insects or disease. Apply insecticide or fungicide only if needed.


Growing From Seeds

Seeds can be grown indoors during the winter season and then transplanted outdoors after the last of the frosts. Alternatively, you can sow them directly into the ground in the spring. Plant them around 12 inches apart to prevent overcrowding.

Make sure you keep the soil moist during the germination period. The seeds also need decent light for germination, so give them only a light covering of soil.

In the right conditions, Irish Moss self-seeds readily. But, if it starts to grow unwanted in particular areas, it is an easy plant to remove.


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