How to Grow Aethionema

Persian stone cress, Aethionema grandiflorum

Aethionema—common name stone cress– is a small shrub grown for its dense to loose terminal racemes of small 4-petaled, cross-shaped flowers that are sometimes fragrant in red, pink, or creamy to white.

Stone cress grows best in fertile, humus-rich soil but will grow well in poor soil. It is a good choice for a rock garden or to plant in stone wall crevices.

Flowers are born on leafless stalks and rise abut 6 to 8 inches above narrow leaves.

There are more than 40 species of Aethionema.

Persian stonecress, Aethionema grandiflorum
Persian stonecress, Aethionema grandiflorum

Get to Know Aethionema

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zone 5 to 8
  • Hardiness: Adapt to colder climates
  • Height and width: 4 to 12 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide depending on the cultivar.
  • Foliage: Leaves are usually stalkless, fleshy, and arranged alternately.
  • Flowers: Four-petaled, cross-shaped, sometimes fragrant flowers in red, pink, or creamy to pure white.
  • Bloom time: Late spring to early summer
  • Common name: Stone cress
  • Botanical name: Aethionema
  • Family name: Brassicaceae
  • Origin: Mediterranean region and Asia Minor

Get to Know Aethionema

Where to Plant Aethionema

  • Plant Aethionema in full sun.
  • Aethionema grows best in light to humus-rich, well-drained soil with considerable lime; will tolerate poor soil.

When to Plant Aethionema

  • Set Aethionema outdoors in spring after the last frost.
  • Seed can be started indoors in late winter or early spring a few weeks before the last expected frost.
Aethionema 'Warley rose'
Aethionema ‘Warley rose’

Planting and Spacing Aethionema

  • Space Aethionema 8 to 12 inches (20-25cm) apart depending on the variety.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil or if starting plants indoors, sow in a light potting mix.

How to Water and Feed Aethionema

  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize Aethonema in spring with an all-purpose organic fertilizer.

Aethionema Care

  • Deadhead flowers to encourage more blooms.

Aethionema Pests and Diseases

  • Aphids and spider mites can attack Aethionema.

Aethionema Propagation

  • Sow seed of perennials in containers in a cold frame in spring.
  • Sow seed of annuals where they will grow in autumn.
  • Seedlings grown from garden seeds are often hybrids.
  • Root softwood cuttings in late spring or early summer.

Aethionema Varieties to Grow

  • Aethionema armenum: compact evergreen subshrub with linear leaves; dense racemes of small pale pink flowers.
  • A. grandiflorum, Persian stone cress: Short-lived evergreen perennial bears pale to deep rose-pink flowers in loose racemes.
  • A. oppositifolium: Mat- or cushion-forming evergreen bears small racemes of lavender-pink flowers.
  • A. schistosum: Narrow leaves with erect stems to 10 inches high; fragrant rose-col0red flowers.
  • A. warleyense: Compact plant to 8 inches tall; pink flowers in dense clusters.

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