How to Grow and Care for Rupturewort

A low-maintenance, easy-to-grow ground cover

Rupturewort ground cover plant with small dense leaves in sunligth

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Rapturewort is a great ground cover option for low-maintenance gardens. It's low-growing, spreads efficiently, doesn't take a lot of upkeep, and can help prevent weed intrusion. Green carpet, as it's sometimes referred to, can thrive even in the poorest quality soils. The green, dense, small evergreen foliage adds a lovely bright splash of color in the spring and summer. In late fall, it transitions to showing shades of red and orange. The flowers are tiny, and you shouldn't expect these to add to the plant's appeal.

Rupturewort is generally planted in the spring from nursery flats or divisions. It is a slow-growing perennial that spreads gradually without becoming invasive.

Botanical Name Herniaria glabra
Common Name Rupturewort, smooth rupturewort, green carpet
Family Caryophyllaceae
Plant Type Evergreen perennial groundcover
Mature Size 2–3 in. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Sandy, loamy
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Late spring to early summer
Flower Color Light green (insignificant)
Hardiness Zones 5–9 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, Asia

Rupturewort Care

Known for being incredibly robust, this plant can thrive in infertile soil and through surprising drops in temperature. It prefers a sunny, or at least only partially shaded environment, and care should be taken not to overwater. A drought-tolerant plant, rupturewort will only need watering during length dry, hot spells.

Rupturewort ground cover with bright green dense foliage next to soil

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Rupturewort plant stems with dense evergreen leaves closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Rupturewort ground cover stems with dense evergreen leaves closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Providing you don't plant rupturewort in full shade, it should do well. It prefers a full sun position but can also spread well in partial shade.

Soil

If you have large areas of infertile soil, which other more delicate plants struggle to grow on, rupturewort can be a great addition. It thrives in most soil types, including dry, rocky, poor-quality varieties. The only thing it won't like is one that is overly moist, so the soil should be well-drained. It prefers an acidic to neutral soil pH; alkaline soils may cause chlorosis and leaf discoloration.

Water

It might be small in stature, but this plant has a long taproot that holds moisture well. It makes it pretty drought-tolerant and, consequently, it can be a popular choice for xeriscape landscaping. It generally does not require additional irrigation. When the weather is hot, it will do well with occasional deep watering, but, generally, it will manage with natural rainfall alone. If it gets too much water, rupturewort can suffer from damaging root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Rupturewort can handle a wide range of weather in zones 5 to 9. In the northern end of its range, it may die back in winter, returning in the spring. In the sourthern part of its range, it generally remains evergreen year-round. Native to the temperate regions of Europe, it's no surprise that it can handle hot spells well.

One thing rupturewort won't cope well with is a very humid environment. Too much moisture isn't good for the roots of this plant. It isn't bothered by high winds, but it doesn't thrive with maritime exposure.

Fertilizer

The only time your rupturewort might benefit from fertilizer is when the plant is young and in infertile soil. Mature plants will be robust enough to do fine without any feeding, unless necessary to remedy alkaline soil.

Types of Rupturewort

This type of rupturewort is not available in any additional cultivars, but there is another species, Herniaria hirsuta (hairy rupturewort), that is often planted as an annual ground cover that spreads through self-seeding. It is suitable for zones 2 to 9 and can be used in the same way as H. glabra.

Pruning

Cutting back straggly stems can help stimulate new growth. As spring begins, any brown,dead stems and leaves can be sheared away. Other than this, rupturewort requires no pruning.

Propagating Rupturewort

Rupturewort isn't classed as an invasive species, as it's quite slow-growing. However, it does self-seed and can gradually spread to overtake other carefully landscaped parts of your garden. If it's becoming over-crowded, clump division can be done in the spring, which will rejuvenate the colony. This is also a good option if you want to plant rupturewort in other areas, too. Here's how to do it:

  1. Use a sharp trowel to dig up a small section of the colony and divide it into sections, each section containing both greenery and attached roots.
  2. Immediately plant the divisions in new locations in loosened soil. Space them at least 12 inches apart.
  3. Tamp down the newly planted divisions, and water thoroughly.

How to Grow Rupturewort From Seed

Growing rupturewort from direct-sown seeds in the spring generates good results providing they are sown in a sunny position. Simply scatter the seeds over the planting area and water lightly.

You can also sow the seeds indoors for an earlier start. Start them indoors or in a cold frame, eight to 10 weeks before outdoor planting time, using shallow trays filled with potting mix. Sow the seeds on the surface without covering them; moisten by misting the surface of the tray, and keep moist until they sprout—which takes seven to 14 days. Before planting outdoors, harden off the plants for 10 to 14 days.

Potting and Repotting Rupturewort

These plants can add interest to containers planted with other upright plants as they tend to drape over the sides of the pot. Because of their long taproot and ability to spread by over half a meter, you'll need to pick a container that is sufficiently big enough to accommodate rupturewort. Use a well-draining container of any material, filled with a good-quality commercial potting mix.

Overwintering

Rupturewort generally requires no winter protection or preparation, but you should reduce watering in late fall, as the plant does not like to soak in damp conditions in cooler weather. Dead, brown leaves and stems can be cut away with shears as new growth begins in spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Rupturewort has no notable pest enemies, but it can be subject to a variety of leaf spot diseases. Gray or brown spots on the leaves usually indicate gray mold disease, which calls for infected plants to be removed. Reddish spots usually indicate a different type of fungal disease, often treatable by spraying with fungicide before the disease becomes widespread.

Damp conditions encourage these diseases, so reducing watering may help prevent them.

Common Problems with Rupturewort

This plant is largely troublefree, but there are several cultural reasons why leaves can turn yellow:

  • Overwatering: Yellowing leaves can be the first sign of a pending root-rot condition brought on by overwatering.
  • Nutrient deficiency: This often occurs if the soil is too alkaline. These plants prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH, and alkaline soils prevent the plant from absorbing nutrients from the soil. If the leaves turn yellow between the veins, this is the likely reason. Feeding with an acidifying fertilizer may help.
FAQ
  • How can I use this plant in the landscape?

    If you have infertile soil that makes growing a lush lawn problematic, planting rupturewort can be an excellent alternative. It's soft underfoot, handles foot traffic reasonably well, and has a unique scent that is almost reminiscent of vanilla. It also works well in alpine-style or rock gardens and as a plant for growing between flagstones. Spring bulbs can still grow well through a covering of rupturewort.

  • What does the common name "rupturewort" mean?

    "Wort" derives from the Old English word "wyrt," which means "plant, root, or herb." This plant was once thought to be a remedy for hernia ruptures, and thus earned the name "rupturewort." This mistaken belief is also reflected in the botanical genus name, Herniaria.

  • Are there medicinal uses for rupturewort?

    Herbal medicine practitioners sometimes use this plant to treat inflammation of the urinary tract. However, its usefulness for this has never been scientifically studied or verified. Always ask your doctor before taking any herbal remedies.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Herniaria glabra. Perennials.com

  2. Rupturewort: Diseases and Remedies. Greenshack.