Arabis – Rock Cress, Wall Cress
The Rock Cress is a small, white, four-petaled flower and its masses of snowy bloom early in the Spring contrast beautifully with the Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatile compactum) and the blue False Wall Cress (Aubrietia). It blooms very soon after the snow disappears and the flowers are so numerous that when a plant is in bloom, no foliage is visible. The foliage is gray and the plant attains a height of 6 inches. It is of a spreading nature and the stems form a dense mat about a foot across which blooms continuously from very early Spring through May. Arabis alpina is the commonest form grown but A. albida is a better bloomer. Both have white flowers. There is a soft pink sort (A. aubrietioides) which sometimes winterkills.
UTILIZE. It is a splendid rock garden plant, growing where it will droop over the rocks. In borders it should be used to cover bare spots. The flowers are sweet scented and are valuable for cutting purposes. It is a neat plant wherever grown.
GENERAL. Any good garden soil will do, provided it is loose and open. Arabis is a drought-resistant plant, does not need much water, but requires lots of sun and heat. After blooming the plants should be cut back thus causing them to branch freely and form better plants for the next year’s bloom. A. aubrielioides is best wintered in a cold frame.
PROPAGATION. Rock Cress is propagated by seeds or by dividing the plants.