How to Grow Heath Pearlwort

This close-up view makes the flowers seem larger than they are: flowers are diminutive. image by Wouter Hagens/


The perennial heath pearlwort---Sagina subulata---creates a carpet-like groundcover, producing small---about 4 or 5 millimeters (less than 1/4 inch)---white flowers at the end of spring and in summer, a welcome sight when planted in rock gardens and crevices between stepping stones. An evergreen, heath pearlwort's small-leaved, emerald-green foliage is also welcome in winter. A cultivar called Aurea has golden leaves. As might be inferred from the "heath" part of this plant's name, Sagina subulata isn't finicky about soil. Soil with a pH of about 5 to 7 will suffice.


Step 1

Buy potted pearlwort in small containers from your trusted plant source. You can buy a flat of such pots if you have a lot of ground to cover.

Step 2

Dig holes in a sunny or largely sunny area. Space holes 9 inches (22 centimeters) apart and dig about 2 inches (about 5 centimeters) deep, just enough to set the roots entirely beneath the surface.

Step 3

Remove each plant from its pot as you are about to plant it.

Step 4

Place each specimen into the prepared holes and cover the roots with soil, pushing the soil down so the plant is secure.

Step 5

Water the plants well, but don't leave the ground soggy---they're not marsh plants, after all.

Step 6

Avoid walking on the plants until they are established.


Step 1

Water regularly. The plant doesn't like to be flooded, nor does it like to dry out. Brown patches mean the pearlwort isn't receiving enough moisture.

Step 2

Propagate by dividing an established plant and its root, pulling a clump apart into smaller pieces. Divide in autumn or early spring.

Step 3

Plant the divisions by the same method you used to establish the heath pearlwort at the start.

Tips and Warnings

  • In hot southern areas, pearlwort must be protected from the sun's heat. Don't plant in full sun.

Things You'll Need

  • Small pots of heath pearlwort
  • Hand shovel or hand spade
  • Hose or watering can


  • Heritage Perennial Profile: Sagina subulata
  • Perennial Resources: Sagina subulata
  • Seed Germination Database - Perennials

Who Can Help

  • USDA PLANTS Profile-Sagina subulata: Awl-leaf Pearlwort
Keywords: heath pearlwort, awl-leaf pearlwort, Irish moss, Sagina subulata

About this Author

Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.

Photo by: Wouter Hagens/