How to Grow Aubrieta Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Purple Rock Cress

Aubrieta plants are hardy perennial alpine plants. They are low growing and mat forming therefore making them great rockery, cover, and edging plants.

They bloom with purple or blue flowers in the spring.

Aubrieta by Color Line.

There are 20 known species in this genus and common names for Aubrieta include Purple rock cress, and false rock cress. Plants of the Aubrieta genus are native to Europe.

Blue Rock Cress
Blue Rock Cress photograph by Dendroica.

Aubrieta Species and Cultivars


Aubrieta deltoidea: Purple rock cress, Rainbow rock cress, Lilacbush

Aubrieta deltoidea
Purple Rock Cress at Belgium National garden by 阿橋 HQ, CC.

US Growing zones 4 to 8; UK zones H6 – Hardy

This small perennial plant is a vigorous grower that makes great ground cover. It is a sun lover that is naturally native to the South east of Europe.

Plants reach about 10 to 22 cm in height (4 to 9 inches) and have a bushy habot with a spread of 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches).

Aubrieta deltoidea blooms from the middle of spring through to early summer. The flowers have four lilac to purple petals. Leaves are grey to green, and oval with a spoon-like appearance.

In addition to its use as ground cover it also makes a nice plant to grow in a rock garden, wall crevices, and at the front of a garden border.

Ideal companion plants include bulbs such as Narcissus and Tulips

Ideally grow in a well-drained soil that is sandy and rocky. It will grow in light and partial shade but best results will be obtained when it is grown in full sun. It is a good plant to grow to attract wildlife to the garden. It is also both drought tolerant and a very deer resistant plant.

Aubrieta cultorum X Aubrieta deltoidea
"Rokey's Purple" Aubrieta: Purple flowers. Blanket. US Zones 5 to 7.

Aubrieta cultorum X deltoidea
photograph by Babij, CC.

Common Aubrieta Cultivars

Aubrieta 'Red Carpet': 10 cm (4 inches) tall. Wide Spreading. Blooms in spring with purple to red flowers. Evergreen leaves are grey-green.

'Carnival': Larger cultivar to 6 inches (15 cm) in height. Large purple flowers.

'Aurea Variegata': Violet blue flowers, Variegated leaves of gold and green, 10 cm (4 inches) tall.

'Variegata ': Flowers may be pink, white, purple, or violet. Leaves have cream colored margins. 10 cm (4 inches) tall

'Campbelliil': Double flowers, pink to purple flowers, 6 inches (15 cm) tall.

Aubrieta Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Aubrieta Rock Cress, Purple Rock Cress, False Rock Cress, Common Aubrieta, Wallcress.
Latin Names: Aubrieta deltoidea
Family: Brassicaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy Perennial.

Height: 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm).
Native: Southern Europe, Western and Central Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 9.
Flowers: Early Spring to early summer.
Flower Details: Purple, lilac, blue, pink, white.
Foliage: Evergreen. Hairy velvet like.

Sow Outdoors: Surface. Early Spring before last frost, or in autumn. Spacing 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm).
Sow Indoors: Sow in vermiculite. Water from below. Germination time: two to three weeks in the light. Temperature 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C), 7 or 8 weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements: Full Sunlight or light shade in hot areas. Good drainage. Soil pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Average soil. Supply compost mulch in spring. Apply a feed once flowering has finished. Deadhead. In hot areas cut back once flowering has completed. Propagate by taking summer cuttings: first two month of summer, softwood or semi-ripe.
Further Reading: Cornell Home gardening; Aubrieta Cultivars
Family: Brassicaceae / Cruciferae: the Cabbage Family
Closely Related: Species include Horseradish; Mustard; Kale; Collards; and Cauliflower.
Miscellaneous: Genus named after the French botanical artist and painter of flowers Claude Aubriet.

How to Grow Aubrieta

When planting Aubrieta outdoors it is best to sow out the seeds on the surface in the early spring or late in the autumn.

If preparing for growing indoors first, then they should be prepared about 7 weeks before they are due to be put out, after the last frost of spring.

Germination takes around two to three weeks in the light, and at a temperature of 18 to 20°C (64 to 68°F).

Young Purple rock cress seedlings (and other Aubrieta species) can be easily damaged by water, so it is therefore essential that they are only watered from below.

The seedlings of Aubrieta should be planted out in spring in a sunny rockery. The spacing should be about 30cm (12 inches). Soil should be well drained and an ideal pH is around 6 to 7.5.

Aubrieta Care

Aubrieta Rock Cress plants are generally easy to look after. They will need to be dead headed following flowering to prevent seed setting and stop the plant from taking over the garden.

Get the Gardener's HQ Newsletter

* indicates required