The hybrids, which are summarized under the term “mossy saxifrage”, are not only interesting for the rock garden. Here you will find tips for planting and care.
Profile of mossy saxifrage:
Scientific name: Saxifraga x arendsii
Plant family: saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)
Other names: –
Planting time: spring to autumn
Flowering period: April to May
Location: partially shady to shady
Soil quality: gravelly to sandy, calcipholous, moderately nutritious, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: grave planting, group planting, planters, dry walls, underplanting, rock garden, cemetery
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of mossy saxifrage
Plant order, origin and occurrence of mossy saxifrage
Mossy saxifrage (Saxifraga x arendsii) is a kind of collective term for various saxifrage hybrids. The first hybrids were created in the nursery of Georg Arends, the well-known German plant cultivator and gardener. Meanwhile, however, so many hybrids are in use, that one roughly divides them into selections and a clear assignment is difficult. However, the two most common parent species of the mossy saxifrage are the Irish saxifrage (Saxifraga rosacea) and the mossy saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides). Botanically, they all belong to the comprehensive saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae).
Characteristics of mossy saxifrage
The evergreen mossy saxifrage grows up to 20 centimeters (8 in) high and forms decorative, soft-leaved leaf rosettes. It spreads by runners and side shoots so that dense cushions are formed over time.
The leaf rosettes are composed of thick, pale green, pinnate leaves. These grow to an average length of 5 centimeters (2 in).
The flowers of the mossy saxifrage open in late spring or early summer. The main flowering period falls on May and June. The small, cup-shaped flowers sit in groups on the stems and hang high above the leaves. They show an enormous variety of colors and can be white, yellow, purple or even deep red. There is almost every shade of pink. Especially spectacular are those flowers that change color over time, fade or darken.
If the mossy saxifrage bears fruit at all, it forms inconspicuous capsules.
Mossy saxifrage – cultivation and care
Saxifraga arendsii prefers mostly partially shady to shady places in the garden. Some varieties need a little more light, but should be placed in a sunny spot with no direct sunlight at most.
High permeability is very important for the mossy saxifrage. It is therefore best to place it in sandy, gravelly soil that is fresh and not too dry.
Planting mossy saxifrage
The mossy saxifrage can be planted from spring to autumn. Depending on the variety, the recommended planting distance varies greatly: it is therefore best to follow the instructions on the plant label.
Most Saxifraga arendsii hybrids tend to like fresh soil, so you should water regularly, especially during longer dry periods. Always water the plants from below, never over the leaves. The water can accumulate in the rosettes, which can lead to rotting and fungal diseases. For the same reason, a permanently damp substrate or even waterlogging must be avoided at all costs. During planting, it is advisable to mulch the area with bark mulch, gravel or similar, so that the soil does not dry out too quickly, and you need less watering.
If the mossy saxifrage lets its leaves hang down, it usually needs water. Healthy plants recover quickly after watering and do not suffer any damage.
Basically, you only need to fertilize Saxifraga arendsii hybrids in very poor sites or when there are deficiency symptoms. To do this, spread some compost under the plants and work it gently and carefully into the soil so as not to damage the roots.
Regular pruning is not necessary, but dead leaf rosettes and withered stems should be removed promptly.
The various hybrids of the mossy saxifrage can be propagated easily either by division or by rooting cuttings. Since Saxifraga x arendsii very rarely produces fruits and thus seeds, propagation by seed is possible in principle, but is rarely used.
In any case, the plants should be dug up, divided and planted separately at intervals of two to three years – mossy saxifrage has the habit of developing a loose growth over time and thus getting holes in the padding. Regular division will give you the compact and dense growth. And this is how it works:
- Carefully dig out the plants.
- Shake off gently adhering soil.
- Carefully tear or cut the plants apart together with the root ball.
- Cut away diseased parts of the plant and bald spots.
- Place the individual plants in a new location or in fresh substrate.
- Water the planting vigorously to promote root development.
When propagating cuttings, take young shoots from the edges of the cushions in early summer and plant them either directly into the bed or first in a pot with growing soil. Some of these cuttings are already rooted, as mossy saxifrage propagates itself via runners. With the help of cuttings, you can cover bald spots very well by placing the plants on exactly these spots. The cuttings grow well within a few weeks and close the gaps in the cushion.
Diseases and pests
The perennial is extremely robust and is almost never attacked by pests or diseases. Rosette rot occurs occasionally.
Mossy saxifrage is very hardy and only needs a light winter protection if they are freshly planted young plants or if they are cultivated in pots. In addition, black frost – i.e. low minus temperatures without a protective snow cover – can also become a problem, which is why you should cover the plants with brushwood or leaves in the cases mentioned. In spring, remove the cover in time to allow the perennials to sprout again. However, watch out for late frosts and protect the plants from them if necessary.
Use in the garden
Mossy saxifrage is considered a classic among rock garden plants and decorates many dry stone walls and stone beds. Since it is compatible with shade, it is generally used for planting partially shady to shady beds, here especially in the front of the bed and as edging. However, it can also be cultivated in planters. As a grave planting Saxifraga arendsii proves to be extremely easy-care and persistent. Fascinating arrangements can be created by placing varieties whose flowers change color over time in larger groups.
There is a large selection of varieties in different flower colors. For example, these are very suitable for the ornamental and front garden:
- Flower carpet: Growth height up to 20 centimeters (8 in), carmine pink flowers between March and April
- Bob Hawkens: grows up to 15 centimeters (6 in) high, pink flowers between May and June
- Sleeping Beauty: Grows to 15 centimeters (6 in) high, light red flowers between May and June
- Spring snow: growth height up to 25 centimeters (10 in), pure white flowers between May and June
- Peter Pan: Height of growth up to 15 centimeter (6 in)s, carmine red flowers between March and April
- Purple Coat: growing height up to 15 centimeters (6 in), purple flowers between April and May
- Rose dwarf: grows up to 20 centimeters (8 in) high, purple-pink flowers between April and May
- Snow carpet: growth height up to 40 centimeters (16 in), pure white flowers between March and April
- White Pixie: grows up to 20 centimeters (8 in) high, white flowers between April and May