Arabis arabis, rock-cress

Height: 10-23cm (4-9in)

Planting: distance 20-60cm (8-24in)

Features: flowers winter to summer

Soil: ordinary, well-drained

Site: partial shade

Type: evergreen rock plant

Arabis is a cushion-forming rock plant with small, cross-shaped, white or pink flowers with a long flowering season, from late winter to early summer. A. ferdinandi-coburgii ‘Variegata’ is grown for its attractive, silversplashed foliage.

Popular species and varieties:

Arabis alpina subsp. Caucasica is covered with small white flowers from late winter to early summer. The coarse, oval, grey-green leaves form a cushion up to 23cm (9in) high and 60cm (2ft) across. It grows well on dry banks and walls but can be too vigorous for rock gardens.

Arabis alpina subsp. Caucasica ‘Pink Pearl’

Varieties such as ‘Pink Pearl’ (pink flowers) and ‘Variegata’ (gold and silver leaves and pink flowers) are less invasive.

‘Flore Pleno’ has double flowers.

Arabis ferdinandi-coburgii ‘Variegata’ is grown for the decorative effect of its neat, dark green, silversplashed leaves which form a mat 10cm (4in) high and 20cm (8 in) across. It produces small clusters of white flowers in late spring.


Plant in well-drained soil in partial shade in early to mid autumn or early spring.

Propagation: Insert cuttings of non-flowering rosettes in a cold frame in early to mid summer. Pot up when well rooted and plant out in early spring.

Alternatively, cut A. alpina subsp. Caucasica back hard after flowering and lift and divide in early autumn.

Pests and diseases: Arabis is generally trouble free.

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