Arabis Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

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

Rockcress, Wall Cress: Cultivation & Garden Use

The hardy perennial Arabis typically flowers in the early spring.

Rock and Wall Cress are small plants that are often mat forming.

Rock Cress

They have scented white flowers and are useful plants for growing in rockeries.

Arabis photograph by nociveglia.

Arabis Flower
Arabis Flower (Lyre-leaved Rock Cress) by Wackybadger.

Commonly Grown Arabis Species


Arabis-alpina (Alpine Rock-cress), photograph by Alastair Rae; CC.

Arabis lyrata

Arabis lyrata
Arabis lyrata (Lyre-leaved Rock Cress), picture by Joshua Mayer; CC.

How to Grow Arabis species such as Rock Cress and Wall Cress

It is best to sow out Arabis species on the soil surface, following germination they can be thinned out with a spacing of approximately thirteen to thirty centimeters (12 inches).

Rock cress should be sown out in the early spring when a light frost is still possible or in the late autumn. They require the vernalisation process to flower.

The plants prefer to be grown in full sunlight, but are quite hardy and therefore tolerant to light shady conditions.

The soil type is not overly important, but it should be well drained. Ideally the soil should (though not essentially) have a pH of 5.5 to 7.

When starting Arabis off from seed indoors, the seeds should be started six to eight weeks before planning to plant out in peat pots. They can then be pricked out in the Early Spring.

Caring for Arabis

Arabis are very easy to look after. The plant should be deadheaded following flowering to prevent self fertilization, and to maintain a neat appearance.

A genus closely related to Arabis is the Arabisdopsis genus, (Brassicaceae family); the annual Arabidopsis thaliana, is one of the most used plants in biological research. It is a model species, has five chromosomes, and has been fully sequenced. Research into the plant has led to a great increase in the understanding of how a plant functions.

Arabis Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Rockcress (Alpine, Coast, Fringed, Hairy, Sapphire, Tower); Tower Mustard; Wall Cress; Arabidopsis
Life Cycle: Hardy Perennial, Hardy Annuals
Height: 4 to 32 inches (10 to 80 cm), Mat forming
Native: Worldwide
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10: Species Specific
Flowers: Spring
Flower Details: White, Scented,Clustered
Foliage: Evergreen
Sow Outdoors: Surface. Early Spring or Late Autumn Spacing 5 to 12 inches (12 to 30 cm) dependent upon species size.
Sow Indoors: Use Peat pots . Germination time: 15 to 25 days. Requires light and a temperature of 70°F (21°C), Start eight weeks before transplanting outdoors following the last frost or in early Autumn.
Requirements: Full Sunlight for best results, may grow well in light shade. Soil pH 5.5 to 7. Good drainage, average and poor soils. Cut back once flowering has completed. Can be propagated by division (spring or autumn) or cuttings (Summer).

Common Questions

How many members are in the Arabis genus?

The Arabis genus, also known as rockcress, consists of around 120 species of flowering plants.

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

Yes, members of Arabis make excellent groundcovers in gardens due to their low-growing habit and abundant spring flowers.

Which Arabis species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Arabis caucasica, or garden arabis, which is popular for its early spring white flowers.

Are members of the Arabis fragrant?

Arabis flowers have a light, sweet fragrance that is particularly noticeable on warm spring days.

What is the perfect location to grow Arabis?

Arabis prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is especially well-suited to rock gardens or slopes.

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

Arabis is not generally considered invasive in the USA, though some species may spread readily under the right conditions.

How do I remove Arabis from my garden?

To remove Arabis, simply pull out the plants, making sure to remove as much of the root system as possible to prevent regrowth.


The Arabis genus, commonly referred to as rockcress, belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Originating from Eurasia and North America, rockcress includes about 120 species of annuals and perennials. They are typically low-growing plants with small, white to pink flowers, making them a popular choice for rock gardens, edging, or ground cover.

Rockcress plants prefer full sun exposure and well-drained soil. They can tolerate a wide range of soil types but prefer slightly alkaline conditions. Once established, they are drought-resistant, making them a good choice for xeriscaping. Rockcress can spread quickly in the garden, forming a dense mat of foliage that can help suppress weeds.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on Arabis. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Horseradish and Matthiola plants.