Basket of gold – planting, care and tips

Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis)
Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis)

The basket of gold sets pretty yellow accents in the rock garden in spring and is predestined for dry places in the garden.

Profile of basket of gold:

Scientific name: Aurinia saxatilis; formerly Alyssum saxatile

Plant family: mustard family (Brassicaceae)

Other names: goldentuft alyssum, golden alyssum, golden alison, gold-dust, golden-tuft alyssum, golden-tuft madwort, rock madwort

Sowing time: autumn

Planting time: spring to autumn

Flowering period: April to May

Location: sunny

Soil quality: stony to sandy, calcipholous, moderately nutritious

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: planters, dry stone walls, greening, borders, cottage garden, flower garden, natural garden, prairie garden, rock garden, potted garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of basket of gold

Plant order, origin and occurrence of basket of gold

The basket of gold, also called rock madwort, belongs to the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It has recently formed its own genus, that of Aurinia. Botanically, the rock garden classic is now called Aurinia saxatilis. This means that the species does no longer belong to the genus Lobularia, even if the basket of gold is still often found under its former botanical name Alyssum saxatile. Albeit, the popularity of the polster-forming spring flower has remained.

Since the rock garden came into fashion in the middle of the 19th century, the golden-yellow glowing drought specialist has been one of the best known and most popular garden shrubs. Occasionally, the native perennial from rock locations in Southern and central Germany had already been brought into the garden in the 17th century. Varieties were added later.

Characteristics of basket of gold


The basket of gold forms vigorous polster. It grows 15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 in) tall and a little more in width. When planting new plants, keep a planting distance of 35 centimeters (14 in). If you put polstery-like basket of gold on a wall crown, it decoratively overhangs. Over time, the shoots lignify on the bottom, which is why one should actually speak of a subshrub.


The spatulate leaves are slightly white felted and its color tend to bluish-green. The leaf color already gives an indication of the high heat and drought tolerance of the sun worshiper. And best of all: the evergreen plant keeps its Mediterranean color even in winter.


The yellow flowers of the plant are typically cross-shaped and stand together in panicle-like racemes. The inflorescence is branched, so that a basket of gold blooms lavishly. With its long flowering period from April to May, it then sets bright accents in the garden. When you walk past a wall crown with rock stone cress in bloom, you will smell a strong honey scent. It also attracts insects to the bee-friendly plant.


After fading, bifid pods form.

Yellow flowers of basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis)
Yellow flowers of basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis)

Basket of gold – cultivation and care


At the natural site, the polster grows on rocky corridors, in rutted steppe lawns or settles in warm, dry crevices. The location in the garden can be sunny, warm and open or beds exposed to the south.


The soil should not be too nutritious for Aurinia saxatilis and should have good water drainage. Mix in a little chippings to temper heavy garden floors. In the wild, basket of gold occurs in base-rich rocks, but is very adaptable in the garden and does not need to be particularly in limy soil.


You can plant container plants all season.

Watering / Fertilization

Neither water nor nutrients are needed, the frugal plant usually copes well with the available rain volume and the nutrients in the soil.


Cut basket of gold right after flowering, by July at the latest. Without regular pruning, it becomes bare over time. You can cut the plant up to about 5 centimeters (2 in) above the floor.


It is almost impossible to divide basket of gold. To propagate it is better to take cuttings, let it sprout or buy new plants from time to time.

If you do not cut the seed heads, basket of gold sows itself. You can sow seeds in flower pots or bowls in autumn. You just have to slightly press the fine seed, not cover it. It sprouts quickly. Varieties are propagated more often by early summer cuttings that are stuck in sand.

Diseases and pests

In general, basket of gold has no problems with plant diseases and pests.


Because of its origins in mountainous regions, Aurinia saxatilis has hardy properties and is therefore ideal for the often hard winters of the local latitudes. It tolerates temperatures down to -23 °C /-9 °F.

Use in the garden

Basket of gold is an indispensable spring bloomer in the stone and gravel garden. Due to the dome-shaped growth, basket of gold is particularly suitable for natural stone walls and wall crowns, over which the polster can overhang easily. It overlaps bed borders and rounds corners. If you want to revive an old tradition, use it as a border plant. Basket of gold works well in combination with steps and slabs or in trays. And wherever you are looking for low polster plants on sunny open spaces, the basket of gold is perfect. You can plant the uncomplicated species with all rock garden plants that have a similar growth. Classics are blue lilacbush (Aubrieta), candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) and moss phlox (Phlox subulata). It suits all Mediterranean representatives such as lavender and with its yellow also forms a welcome splash of color between sage, hyssop and similar herbs.


‘Citrinum’ shows a pale lemon yellow. Karl Foerster, the famous perennial gardener, already described the 25 centimeter (10 in) high variety as “King of its kind”. Sulfur yellow presents itself the ‘Sulphureum’. This variety grows to a height of 40 centimeters (16 in). The former, particularly compact variety ‘Compactum’ has been replaced by ‘Compactum gold ball’. Occasionally you can only find them under the name ‘gold ball’. The vigorous polster lives up to its name and forms a 15 to 20 centimeters (6 to 8 in) high gold ball in bloom. The earliest blooming variety ’Summit’ remains just as low. It often blooms already in March. The double flower form ‘plenum’ blooms for a particularly long time – from April to June. It grows 20 centimeters (8 in) high, but due to its double flowers it is not bee-friendly.

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