Hornungia alpina ‘Icecube’

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Robert Pavlis

Hornungia alpina ‘Icecube’ is a darling plant for the rock garden that is not very well known, especially in North America.

Hornungia alpina ‘Icecube’
Hornungia alpina ‘Icecube’, photo by Robert Pavlis

Hornungia alpina forms a nice solid tufted clump with small pinnate fresh green leaves that look good all year round, even in winter. The plant is reported to bloom in early spring (March to April), but mine blooms almost continuously from mid summer into late fall. In my zone 5 garden this is the last plant to have open flowers – still going strong in late December.

Note added June 2013: this year the plant started flowering in late April.

The flowers are slightly fragrant, white and typical of the mustard family. As flowers fade, the flowering stem elongates and new flowers are formed on the same stem. No wonder the variety ‘Icecube’ is a Quality Award winner.

Hornungia alpina ‘Icecube’
Hornungia alpina ‘Icecube’; photo by Robert Pavlis

I originally had the plant growing at ground level beside larger neighbors where it grew well but did not shine. This year I moved it into a trough and it is the star of the show. Over a few years it might get too big for a trough without some pruning.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis

The plant has had several names. It’s common name is chamois cress. In Europe it is better known as Pritzelago alpina and in North America is known as Hutchinsia alpina.

Hornungia alpina

(hor-HUNG-ee-a AL-pin-a)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 10 cm (4 inches)

Bloom Time: early spring to late fall

Natural Range: Southern and central Europe

Habitat: Mountains

Synonyms: Noccaea alpina, Lepidium alpinum, Pritzelago alpina, Hutchinsia alpina

Cultivation of Hornungia alpina:

Light: full sun

Soil: loam or sandy soil

Water: average moisture

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 9

Propagation: seed, easily propagated by cuttings

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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