Arabis Information – Care and Maintenance

Basic information about Arabis.  Includes Origin, Growing & Cultivation, Common Pests & Diseases, Interesting Facts & Uses,  and Garden Design Tips.

Arabis Origin

Arabis deep rose
Arabis ‘Deep Rose’

The botanical name, Arabis, probably refers to the fact that many species are native to the mountains of Arabia.

The common name of ‘Alpine Rock Cress’ is very descriptive – this genus is primarily found naturally in rocky alpine areas in various mountain ranges across some parts of Africa, Europe, and Central Asia.

Growing and Cultivation

Arabis prefers full sun, but can tolerate light shade if conditions are right.

This plant, true to its native home, prefers rocky, poor soil that is very well-drained.  Tolerates limestone soils and hot, dry conditions as well!

It’s recommended to deadhead after blooming to keep the plant looking neat, but not required.


Common Pests and Diseases

This plant is pretty disease and pest resistant, but can be susceptible to white rust and powdery mildew – to help prevent these diseases, leave plenty of air flow around the stems and leaves.

If soil is too wet or poorly drained, Arabis can develop root rot.  It’s best to amend any heavy, clay soils with sand or even gravel to make it more amenable for this plant.

Arabis is both deer and rabbit-resistant; they prefer not to eat it due to its hairy texture.

Interesting Facts and Uses

A species of Arabis, A. thaliana, is frequently used in biological research, since it has only 5 chromosomes and changes can be easily mapped and tracked.

The Arabis genus used to be much larger, but botanists split it into two groups, the Old World varieties and New World varieties, since they were determined to be significantly different.

Many varieties have sweetly fragrant flowers, and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies!


Garden Design Tips

This plant forms a dense, creeping mat excellent for rock gardens, retaining walls, steep banks and as a ground cover for poor, dry, sunny areas!

Its carpet of small flowers makes a bold statement and contrasts any larger, mounded or upright perennial.

Purchasing Arabis

To purchase Arabis varieties, please visit our Sun Companion Plants Page.