Aethionema Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Aethionema plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Stone Cress: Cultivation & Garden Use

The common names for the Hardy perennial Aethionema include Stone cress. They typically flower from early spring until late summer.

Description of Aethionema

Stone cress and other Aethionema are short lived evergreen perennials that are small to medium in size. Aethionema has clusters of small white, lilac or pink flowers.

The Genus belongs to the Mustard and Cabbage family (Brassicaceae).

As a consequence of the plants small size they are ideal for rockeries or in the crevices of stone walls. Some of the taller species can also be used as border plants.

A selection of Aethionema Plant Species

Aethionema saxatile

The Aethionema saxatile, or Stonecress, is a low-growing perennial plant that forms a dense mat of grey-green leaves. Its charming pink to white flowers bloom in spring, making a vibrant display against the foliage.

This plant enjoys full sun and well-drained, rocky soil, mirroring its natural alpine habitat. Stonecress is ideal for rock gardens, borders, and as ground cover, where it adds a lovely touch of color.

Aethionema saxatile Photograph by Pastilletes.

Aethionema glaucinum

Aethionema glaucinum is a perennial herb with glaucous, or waxy, blue-grey leaves. It produces clusters of bright pink flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer.

Thriving in full sun and well-drained soil, it is perfect for rock gardens or alpine beds, where its vibrant flowers can contrast beautifully with its blue-green foliage.

Aethionema cordifolium

The Aethionema cordifolium, commonly known as Heart-leaved stonecress, is a compact, mound-forming plant with heart-shaped, blue-green leaves. In spring, it bursts into bloom with tiny, pale pink to white flowers.

Adaptable to full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil, it's a beautiful addition to rock gardens, borders, and containers, where its trailing habit can be showcased.

Aethionema grandiflorum

Aethionema grandiflorum is a small perennial plant that is notable for its large, pale pink flowers, which bloom in abundance during late spring. It has blue-green, needle-like foliage that forms a low, dense mat.

This sun-loving plant thrives in well-drained soil. It's an excellent choice for rock gardens, gravel gardens, or at the front of a border where its grand flowers can be admired.

Aethionema armenum

Aethionema armenum is a compact perennial plant with narrow, bluish-green leaves. It boasts a profusion of small, pink flowers that create a lovely carpet of color in spring.

Enjoying sunny locations and well-drained soil, it is perfect for rock gardens, alpine beds, or border fronts, where its colorful, dense growth can shine.

Aethionema warleyense

The Aethionema warleyense is a small, bushy perennial noted for its dense clusters of bright pink flowers that appear in late spring. Its foliage consists of slender, grey-green leaves.

Adapting to full sun and well-drained soil, it makes a delightful addition to rockeries, borders, and gravel gardens, offering a burst of color and texture.

Aethionema schistosum

Aethionema schistosum (Persian Stonecress) is a perennial plant characterized by its delicate, blue-grey foliage and profuse pink flowers that bloom in spring. Its compact growth habit forms a neat mound.

It thrives in sunny, well-drained conditions, making it a suitable choice for rock or gravel gardens, where its vibrant blooms and beautiful foliage provide a striking contrast.

How to grow Stone cress

It is best to sow Stone cress just below the soil surface, with a spacing of 10 to 18 cm, in the spring or autumn. Stone cress prefers full sunlight and should be grown in soil that is well drained and sandy. Aethionema species requires between 30 days and 90 days to germinate.

If initially grown indoors they should be sown ten to twelve weeks before planting out, after the last frost of spring.

Caring for Aethionema in the Garden

Aethionema requires a little care, they require regular watering and the occasional application of fertiliser.

As the plant is short lived it may die out after two years, so cuttings should be took after flowering, or the plant allowed to self.

Quick Aethionema Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Aethionema
  • Common Names: Stonecress.
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 5-8. RHS Hardiness Rating: H5 (Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters).
  • Best Used For / Garden Location: Ideal for rock gardens, walls, and sunny borders. Plant in a location with full sun exposure.
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Perennial / Subshrub.
  • Plant Height: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm).
  • Plant Spread: 12-18 inches (30-45 cm).
  • Blooms: Late spring to early summer.
  • Flower Details: Clusters of small, four-petaled pink or white flowers.
  • Leaf Foliage: Small, gray-green, evergreen leaves.
  • Fruit: Small, dry seed capsules.
  • Best Light Conditions: Full sun.
  • Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained, gritty, slightly alkaline soils.
  • Sowing, planting: Sow seeds in pots in a cold frame in spring. Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle.
  • Germination time: 2-3 weeks at 65-75°F (18-24°C).
  • Propagation: By seeds or softwood cuttings in early summer.
  • Plant Care: Drought-tolerant once established. Deadhead to prolong flowering period.
  • Growing in pots and containers: Suitable for container growing. Use well-drained, gritty soil and full sun.
  • Growing as an House plant: Not suitable as a houseplant.
  • Miscellaneous: Attracts bees and butterflies. Deer resistant. Not invasive.
  • Pests and diseases: Generally pest and disease-free.
  • Common Garden Species / Cultivars / Varieties: Aethionema 'Warley Rose' known for its deep pink flowers; Aethionema grandiflorum with large, light pink flowers.
  • Family: Brassicaceae, the Mustard family.
  • Native: Mediterranean region.
  • References and Further Reading: Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder - Aethionema.

Common Questions

How many members does the Aethionema genus have?

The Aethionema genus consists of around 57 species. These plants are small shrubs or herbaceous perennials in the Brassicaceae family.

Do members of Aethionema make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, many Aethionema species are valued as rock garden plants due to their small size, compact growth habit, and attractive flowers.

Which Aethionema species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most popular species is Aethionema 'Warley Rose', admired for its pretty pink flowers.

Are members of the Aethionema plant genus fragrant?

No, plants in the Aethionema genus are not known for being fragrant.

What is the perfect location to grow Aethionema?

Aethionema species prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are particularly suited to rock gardens and alpine troughs.

Is Aethionema invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

No, Aethionema is not currently considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Aethionema plants from my garden?

These plants can be removed by carefully digging them out, ensuring to remove the entire root system. It's important to avoid causing seed dispersal during removal.


The Aethionema genus, a member of the Brassicaceae family, includes about 60 species of perennial and shrubby plants. Native to the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia, these plants, commonly known as stonecress, are known for their dense clusters of small, fragrant, pink or white flowers.

Aethionema plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are drought-tolerant and can thrive in poor soils, making them ideal for rock gardens and alpine plantings. After flowering, the plants should be lightly trimmed to maintain their shape and encourage a second bloom. While they are generally easy to grow, they do not tolerate wet, heavy soils, especially in winter.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on Aethionema. You may also enjoy the following garden growing guides: How to grow Ionopsidium and Malcolmia plants.