Rock Cress Aubrieta

Rock Cress, Aubrieta is a very popular ground cover plant yet it astonished me that I couldn't find the herb in my collection of herb books. I eventually came across it listed in an old gardening book.

It's a wise move to include it in your herb garden because the snails won't dine on it, leaving it to spread and produce a profusion of colour in May and June.

In addition, being a hardy perennial, it won't flinch at the frost and stays green all year round supplying fresh edibles on the table in winter.

That's right, you read it correctly! Rock cress is edible and the flowers too! Aubrieta or as some like to call it Aubretia, is a Brassicaceae, of the mustard family.

How To Grow Rock Cress

Rock cress is easy to grow. The first year I transplanted windowsill-grown seedlings into slightly alkaline soil in the herb garden.

It's a shady location but the herb does get a fair bit of sun in Spring from the afternoon to early evening, ample enough to have caused it to thrive and spread by the second year.

To grow your seeds indoors, thinly distribute some on the surface of fine, damp compost in early April. Water them with a spray and keep them in a bright place or under a grow light. Indoors they will germinate in a 2 to 3 weeks.

When the seedlings are big enough, prick them out and plant them in their permanent position, preferably a sunny spot, but they will tolerate shade also growing to a height of 3 or 4 inches (7.5 – 10cm).

Rock cress will spread so plant it in spaced out clusters of seedlings about 30 - 50cm apart. In time the clusters will merge and give you a carpet of pretty purple, mauve and pink flowers.

If however you want it to grow in dense clusters, trim rock cress back after it flowers. This will encourage it to grow new shoots, and stay compact. Divide old plants between August and October.

Benefits of Rock Cress

t's bee-friendly! They love it! That is a very good reason to grow it. We need to attract these important pollinators to our gardens, so keep it free of pesticides.

The more anti-slug and snail herbs we plant the more we deter those unwanted critters. You won't eliminate them completely which is fair, live and let live, but you will reduce their numbers greatly giving the garden ecosystem a bit of balance.

Do check beneath the foliage of rock cress plants now and then. Snails like to hide under the leafy blanket, especially if you planted in a shaded area.

Rock cress leaves and flowers are edible, not for slugs and snails, but for us as previously mentioned.

The vivid blues, purples, and mauves are striking and paint the garden with a sea of deep colour at the end of Spring.

Rock Cress Varieties

Some of the varieties to choose from are “Aubrieta Audrey Red”, “Aubrieta Spring Charm”, “Aubrieta Gracillis, Royal Blue”, “Aubrieta Royal Violet”, Aubrieta Hybrida Cascade”, Aubrieta Cultorum”.

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