Quite rare in nature, cat’s paws thrive wonderfully in dry and barren gardens. Given the right soil and location, they are among the easiest garden plants to look after. Once established, they do not need to be watered or fertilized. In principle, the only necessary action is to cut off the faded stems. If you pay attention to a few things when planting, you won’t have to work with the plants later. You can read what you need to know about the cat’s paw in our text. Inform yourself!


  • daisy family
  • Blossoms sit close together like little cat paws
  • Perennial herbaceous plants, sometimes subshrubs
  • There are 45 species in the genus
  • Some form aerial runners, others rhizomes
  • 5 to 30 cm high
  • Mountain plant or in cooler regions
  • Occur in Europe and Asia
  • Most species are found in North America
  • Evergreen or evergreen
  • Have single or up to 12 inflorescences
  • These are clustered, tactile or panicled
  • Flower heads 2 to 8 mm in diameter
  • Usually 20 to 100 flowers
  • Flowers May to June/July
  • The most famous species – Common Cat’s Paw and Carpathian Cat’s Paw
  • There are also a lot of hybrids
  • Ideal for stone and moor gardens and on wall joints and dry walls
  • It is used in folk medicine for diseases of the respiratory tract and gallbladder

species and varieties

  • A. dioica ‘Red Wonder’ – dark red flowers, umbrella panicles, silver-grey, evergreen foliage, 5 to 15 cm high, forms aerial runners and thus carpets
  • A. dioica var. borealis – Woolly cat’s paw – white flowers, densely white-woolly hairy leaves, 5 to 10 cm high, short stolons, forms attractive carpets
  • A. dioica ‘Rubra’ – siluri rose-pink flower, silvery-green, tomentose foliage, about 10 cm tall
  • A. dioica ‘Alba’ – white flowers, grey-green leaves, more gray than green, about 10cm tall, looks a little unassuming compared to the other cultivars
  • A. dioica ‘Pearl Pillow’ – white flowers, grey, tomentose leaves, about 10 cm high
  • A. alpina – white flower heads, green leaves, light underside, up to 20 cm high
  • A. dioica ‘Nyewood’ – pink flowers, silver-grey foliage, 10cm tall, blooms as early as May
  • A. plantaginae – white flowers. large leaves, 15 cm high, flowers in May
  • A. tomentosa – white flowers, silvery foliage, 10 cm high, flowering in May
  • A. dioica ‘White Immortelle’ – white flower heads, grey-green leaves, up to 15 cm high, particularly floriferous

The care of the cat’s paw

Cat’s Paws are absolutely undemanding plants. They require almost no care and are so versatile.
Dry, nutrient-rich soil and a sunny spot are important for them. They do well on dry, warm embankments, terraces in connection with stairs or steps, are suitable for natural and Mediterranean gardens, gravel, heath and rock gardens, but also for grave plants, green roofs, as flat ground cover and for dry walls. The plants are extremely versatile. Cat’s Paws are also suitable for cultivation in planters, tubs, troughs and the like. They can even be used for bouquets, including dried ones.

Cat paws do not need any additional water or fertilizer once they have established themselves. Too many nutrients are more of a hindrance. You don’t have to cut it, only the withered stems have to be cut off at some point. If self-sowing is to be prevented, this must be done before the seed ripens. The evergreen plants are sufficiently frost-resistant and usually do not need winter protection. On the contrary, the upholstery looks very good in the gray period. Cat paws can be propagated in various ways, by sowing, dividing and removing the offshoots. Diseases and pests are rather rare. You have to be careful what you plant next to the cat’s paws. They are not very competitive and are quickly driven out by neighboring plants that are too intrusive.


The right location is important for cat paws. They need a lot of sun, preferably full sun. If they don’t get enough of it, they won’t thrive. In any case, they also need a very dry place. They do well on heathland, on rocks, dry stone walls, dry meadows, between paving stones and other similarly dry places.

  • Need lots of light, like full sun
  • Cope well with wind
  • The plants don’t get too much shade, because they quickly disappeared
  • Definitely a dry place

plant substrate

The plant substrate is also important. It must be dry and permeable, and low in lime and nutrients. Heavy and permanently wet floors are absolutely unsuitable. The drier the cookie, the better. Very sandy and also gravelly soils are ideal.

  • Dry, lime and nutrient-poor soils
  • Sandy and gravelly soils are ideal
  • Absolutely permeable
  • Very fond of loose sandy soils
  • Thrives well on nutrient-poor grass
  • The soil can be slightly acidic, which is even an advantage
  • Does not tolerate nutrient-rich or calcareous soils
  • No heavy floors
  • No waterlogging
Tip: cat’s paws look good in planters, preferably in flat ones. Here the quite low plants work best in the foreground and as a quite stately carpet of plants. It is important that the other plants fit together in terms of care requirements. These must therefore also be able to get by with dry soil and without nutrients.


There is not much to consider when planting. Rabbit feet look best when planted together in groups. It should be 3 to 5 plants. However, these must not be too close together, because the plants will sprout and become too dense. They then hinder each other and that is not desired.

  • Water the plant balls a little before planting
  • Prepare unsuitable substrate
  • Planting distance 20 to 25 cm
  • It is best to plant in groups of 3 or more
  • 16 plants per square meter if used as ground cover
  • Beautiful companions: Thrift, heather carnation, rock roses in pink or red, white wild thyme and speedwell
Note : Since other plants cast shadows and the cat’s paw doesn’t get it, the neighbors must not be placed too close to the very sensitive ground cover. They don’t get shade at all, even if it comes from neighboring plants. Other plants also often have the ability to spread and overgrow the uncompetitive cat’s paws. They don’t survive that.

watering and fertilizing

Once the cat’s paws have grown, they do not need any additional watering or fertilizer. They are absolutely frugal. On the contrary, too much water and nutrients hinders the development of the plants.

  • No additional watering
  • Only water freshly planted cat paws from time to time until they are established, which takes a few weeks.
  • No fertilizer
  • No further maintenance measures

To cut

You hardly have to cut. Only withered stems need to be cut off. If you want to prevent self-seeding, you should remove faded flowers in good time so that the seeds don’t even ripen. Otherwise nothing needs to be cut.

  • After flowering or in spring, just before sprouting begins, cut off the faded flower stalks
  • To prevent self-seeding, remove stems before seeds ripen!


Cat paws are very hardy. Normally they do not need any protection and delight us with their grey-green foliage in winter. Only specimens planted very late in the year should be covered. Otherwise, the planted specimens get through the winter well. In containers, they are happy when they are quite dry, i.e. under an eaves or on a covered terrace.

  • Good frost hardy
  • Winter protection not necessary


Propagation is easy and can be done in a number of ways. The sowing is a bit tedious, but not really difficult. However, it is much easier to separate the offshoots and replant them separately.


  • Sow in spring or autumn
  • The best time is in April/May
  • Do not scatter the very small seeds too densely
  • Light germinators, so do not cover with soil, just press down
  • Spray carefully with water
  • Make it bright and spray regularly
  • Solitary about a month after germination

division in spring

  • Runners quickly form decorative cushions
  • Simply separate rooted runners and plant them separately

diseases and pests

In principle, cat paws are very healthy and robust. However, they are not protected from diseases either, and pests can also occur from time to time.

  • Powdery mildew – occurs on plants that are very sunny. It is the powdery mildew that only sits superficially on leaves and shoots. It is much easier to fight than downy mildew. Simply spray the leaves with a water and milk solution made from one part milk and nine parts water. Repeat the treatment every two to three days until the problem is resolved.
  • Aphids – cannot be prevented, but can be driven away relatively easily. Simply rinse off with a fairly strong jet of water. The treatment usually has to be repeated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can be the reason if the cat’s paws bloom only weakly?
If the plants are growing well but only produce a few buds, the growing conditions are probably not ideal. Most of the time, the lighting conditions are poor, i.e. not enough sun. You can’t influence it if it doesn’t appear. But if the location is simply too shady, then only transplanting will help. You also have to be careful that other plants don’t stand too close and cast their shadows on the low cat’s paws.

Can cat paws be used as a lawn substitute?
Yes, because the plants form dense carpets and you can walk on them. This is important. The plants are not suitable for path planting if people constantly walk over them, but if someone walks on them every now and then, the plants don’t mind. It’s definitely less work with this perennial than with a lawn, but the area has to be very sunny and the soil sparse, otherwise it won’t work.

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