How to Grow Aubretia

Aubretia is a low-growing, evergreen perennial which forms a mat of flowers and is good for the front of a border or better still, tumbling down a wall. 

Aubretia is fully hardy and flowers best in a sunny spot, but it will grow in semishade.  Aubretia prefers well-drained soil and will tolerate dry growing conditions, which is why it is so well suited to being planted in walls and rockeries. It requires just a little maintenance and is trouble free.  

 Despite not being scented, Aubrieta still appeals to bees and continues to flower for a long time.

Aubretia flowers are in shades of light blue, mauve and pink and some varieties have variegated foliage, all are low-growing, small plants. 

Although a very simple and common garden plant, it is a lovely sight in spring to see a well established Aubrieta trailing over a wall a mass of blue, purple and pink; Aubretia looks pretty and makes a  cheerful splash of colour.

It is easy to get cuttings from Aubretia. Often they send out little plantlets around them and you can pot these up to grow on for planting out later when they have a mature root. Also Aubretia root easily trim off a cutting a few centimetres long in midsummer and root into well-drained compost. Let the plant grow on to a mature size in a suitable container, and then it is ready for planting out.  

Aubretia can be raised from seed if you want to cultivate a particularly colour or variety not commonly found in the garden centres, such as A.'Cascade red', which as the name suggests is a bright red variety, but otherwise the easiest way is to take cuttings. Thompson and Morgan have 12 varieties of Aubretia, including A. 'Cascade Red' and several shades of purple varieties, some from seed and some as plants.  Crocus  sells a neat blue variety 'Kitte Blue' and a white variety 'Axcent White'.

  If Aubretia is not the plant for you check out summer flowering plantsspring flowering plantsscented plants and the 10 best climbing plants for more ideas.

Just when does Aubretia flower?

Aubretia flowering on a wall in early February
Aubretia flowering on a wall in early February

Gardening advice says Aubretia flowers anytime during March, April, even May.

This is a good example of how gardening advice depends on the weather we are experiencing in a season and in a particular year. In the UK, we have an enormous variation in our seasonal weather and around the country. This makes a great deal of difference. Plus, gardens have sheltered and exposed areas in gardens creating micro climates.

This is an image of an aubretia flowering in early February. I can say this with confidence, as I took the picture on the 5th Feb.It was flowering on a sheltered wall.  Depend on Aubretia for early colour, but exactly when is a bit of a horticultural lottery. 

How to cut back Aubretia

To keep a compact shape cut back after flowering. Aubretia has a tendency as it matures to spread with a bald part in the centre and flowers around the outside. To bring it back into shape, it needs to be cut back. There are two ways to prune Aubretia a hard or light prune.

If the plant has become straggly, over grown or bald in the centre, give it a hard prune cutting right back as in the image below.

With a younger Aubretia plant which is in better shape, more compact, it requires only a light prune up to 5cms ( 2-3 inches max. ) In both cases prune in June when flowering has finished, or as soon as the Aubretia plant stops flowering in your area. It is best to cut back immediately after flowering. Cutting back later in the year may interfere with the plant's flowering next year. However, do not cut over winter.

Check out the images below or watch the short video for on how to prune and cut back Aubretia, including when and how to hard prune Aubretia 

PS brief video clip showing the same Aubretia in July about 6 weeks after pruning

Aubretia Before Cutting back

Overgrown Aubretia before cutting back

This Aubretia is overgrown, with baldness in the middle and needs to be hard pruned.

Aubretia After a hard prune

Aubretia after a hard prune

Although it looks unsightly, this Aubretia will grow back and into a better shape for next year

Small Aubretia plants

Potted up small Aubretia plants

These small plants were alongside the main plant and by the end of the summer will be ready for planting out to flower next year.

An easy to grow perennial, a green wheelbarrow plant