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Mossy Sandwort

Arenaria balearica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Gardens, rocky places, walls, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
Star-shaped, white flowers. The flowers are long-stalked and appear solitary (not in clusters). Flowers each measure 5 to 7mm in diameter. The petals are much longer than the sepals.
The fruit is a capsule.
A mat-forming, evergreen perennial plant with thread-like stems. Very small, dark green, roundish, oval leaves. Garden escape species.
Other Names:
Balearic Pearlwort, Balearic Sandwort, Corsican Sandwort, Majorca Sandwort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Arenaria balearica is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae. It is native to the Balearic Islands of Spain and is known for its small, white flowers and dense, low-growing habit. This species is considered to be endangered in its native habitat due to habitat loss and overcollection for horticultural purposes.


Mossy sandwort, also known as Arenaria balearica, is a small but hardy flowering plant that is native to the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean. This delicate-looking plant can be found growing in the wild on rocky cliffs and crevices, often in areas that are exposed to wind and salt spray.

One of the most distinctive features of Mossy sandwort is its growth habit. As its name suggests, the plant forms compact, cushion-like mats that are covered in fine, moss-like foliage. The leaves are narrow and needle-like, and have a bluish-green color that contrasts nicely with the white or pinkish flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer.

Despite its delicate appearance, Mossy sandwort is actually quite resilient and can survive in a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers well-draining soil and full sun, but can tolerate some shade and even some drought once it is established. It is also fairly resistant to pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance choice for gardens and landscaping.

One of the reasons why Mossy sandwort is so popular with gardeners is its versatility. It can be used to create low-growing ground covers, or planted in rock gardens, containers, or as edging for pathways and borders. It is also a great choice for coastal gardens, as it can tolerate the harsh, salty air and windy conditions found near the ocean.

If you are thinking about adding Mossy sandwort to your garden or landscape, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is important to choose a well-draining soil and a sunny location, as too much moisture or shade can cause the plant to rot. You may also want to consider adding a layer of gravel or small rocks around the base of the plant to help improve drainage and prevent water from pooling around the roots.

Overall, Mossy sandwort is a beautiful and resilient plant that can add a touch of color and texture to any garden or landscape. With its hardy nature and low-maintenance requirements, it is a great choice for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Mossy sandwort is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family, which includes other popular garden plants such as dianthus and carnations. It is a low-growing, evergreen plant that typically reaches a height of only 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) and a spread of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). The plant's compact growth habit and fine foliage make it an excellent choice for filling in small spaces, such as cracks in paving stones or between rocks in a rock garden.

In the wild, Mossy sandwort can be found growing in harsh, rocky environments where few other plants can survive. Its ability to thrive in such inhospitable conditions is due in part to its shallow root system, which allows it to quickly absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. The plant's dense growth habit also helps to protect it from wind and other environmental stressors.

Mossy sandwort is easy to propagate, and can be grown from seed or by dividing established plants. To grow Mossy sandwort from seed, simply scatter the seeds over well-draining soil and lightly cover with a thin layer of sand. Keep the soil moist and in a warm, sunny location until the seedlings emerge. Once the plants are established, they can be transplanted to their final location.

Overall, Mossy sandwort is a lovely and versatile plant that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or landscape. Its low-maintenance requirements, combined with its hardy nature and beautiful appearance, make it a popular choice for gardeners around the world. If you are looking for a low-growing plant that can withstand harsh growing conditions, Mossy sandwort is definitely worth considering.

In terms of care, Mossy sandwort is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It is drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering, especially once established. However, it is important to ensure that the soil remains well-draining, as the plant is susceptible to root rot in overly wet conditions.

Mossy sandwort benefits from occasional fertilization, but too much fertilizer can lead to excessive growth that may detract from the plant's compact habit. A light application of a balanced fertilizer in early spring is usually sufficient to promote healthy growth and blooming.

One of the great things about Mossy sandwort is its versatility in the landscape. It is often used as a ground cover, especially in rock gardens or other areas where other plants may struggle to grow. It can also be used as a border or edging plant, as its compact habit creates a tidy, well-defined edge. Additionally, Mossy sandwort looks beautiful in containers or hanging baskets, where its trailing habit and delicate flowers add a soft, romantic touch.

While Mossy sandwort is generally considered to be a low-maintenance plant, it can be susceptible to a few pests and diseases. In particular, the plant is vulnerable to fungal diseases that can cause yellowing or browning of the leaves. To prevent these issues, it is important to ensure that the plant has good air circulation and that the soil is well-draining. If signs of disease do appear, it may be necessary to apply a fungicide to prevent further spread.

Overall, Mossy sandwort is a beautiful and resilient plant that can add interest and texture to any garden or landscape. With its hardy nature, low-maintenance requirements, and attractive appearance, it is a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience. Whether used as a ground cover, border plant, or container specimen, Mossy sandwort is sure to bring beauty and charm to any space.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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