Rockery Plants - 8 Fascinating Rock Garden Ideas
Rock gardens are among the most popular yard decorations. They are perfect both for small gardens and extensive spaces. One just needs to adjust the size of the planned rockery. It's extremely easy to create an alpine garden - all you need is a small soil mound and a few rocks on top. The important part are the plants you'll use in your rockery. Make sure to pick them carefully, as not all flowers can grow among rocks. You can choose from creeping plants, perennials, small bushes or rock garden succulents. Everything depends on what you like. Check what are the most popular rockery plants.
What are the characteristics of rockery plants?
Plants for rockeries are a special type of plants, distinct not only for their interesting looks, but also needs about the soil and care. Rockery plants have to be drought-resistant, as they cannot count on plenty of moisture on a rocky slope. Creeping, sun-resistant plants are the most recommended, unless your rock garden is located under trees. In such a case, you can pick shade-loving plants. Otherwise, plants growing in full sun are exposed to the risk of dehydration and burns.
What are the best rock garden plants - annuals or perennials?
Are you resistant to change and want your garden to look the same or at least similar for years to come? It’s possible with perennial rockery plants. Although they require a bit more attention over the winter, at the same time, you eliminate the annual dilemma of picking new plants and planting them. In a way, you save your time.
Annual rock garden plants are a perfect choice if you like changes and want to enjoy new species every year. Many gardeners pick this form of cultivation - primarily because of the wide variety of plants available.
When to plant rockery plants?
Rock gardens are easy to organize, and you can create them anytime - from spring to late summer, in some cases even in early autumn. A lot depends on the plants you pick. They need enough time to take root before temperatures drop to 0°C (32 F).
As stressed by gardening experts, the best time for planting plants in a rockery is between May and June. This way, you can count on quick and beautiful growth.
Where to buy plants for rockeries?
Make sure to shop for rockery plants in trusted and reliable places. You can find interesting creeping plants in gardening centers. Regardless, plant nurseries offer a much broader choice.
Pay attention to the state of the plants you’re about to buy. Make sure they aren’t damaged. Also, search for signs of pests and diseases. If you bring such flowers to your garden - you can lose the plants that already grow in there.
Moss phlox - rockery plants that create flower carpets
The creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is often called moss phlox because of the way it spreads. It’s characteristic for its intense color - pink, noticeable from a distance. Phlox plants develop extensive root systems, and they grow rapidly. They make highly durable rockery plants - resistant to frosts and droughts.
Stemless gentian - intense blue alpine garden plants
Although the stemless gentian (Gentiana acaulis) has three color varieties, dark blue is the most popular one. Such flowers commonly appear in rock gardens.
The stemless gentian is a little more demanding rock garden plant, as it likes moist substrates - and it grows better in permeable soils. If you decide to plant it in your garden - make sure to provide it with everything it needs.
Himalayan fleece flower - unusual rock garden plants
Is your backyard a little more spacious than standard, and therefore you can create a more extensive rock garden? You need very good-looking plants. The Himalayan fleece flower (Polygonum affine) is one of them.
Small, very green stems make the base of the plant. Longer stalks contain stick-like clusters of flowers. Their color is white and pink.
The Himalayan fleece flower grows taller than other plants typical for a rockery garden, so it’s not suitable for tiny areas. But it looks great when combined with large rocks.
Myrtle spurge - popular creeping plants to grow in a rockery
Myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) is one of the most unusual rockery plants. Many refer to it as exotic, and there’s a lot of truth in it, as it looks very interesting.
Are you wondering what the myrtle spurge looks like? A single thick stem contains lots of smaller, nearly identical leaves. The plant is sometimes compared to a snake. But that’s not all! These rockery plants look beautiful when they bloom. It happens between May and June. The flowers are tiny and yellow.
Carnations - long-blooming rock garden plants
Carnations (Dianthus) are common yard plants, not typically associated with rock gardens. Apart from the classic long carnations, there are also shorter varieties - which often appear in rockeries.
Why picking such common rock garden plants? First, they look really beautiful. That’s not all! The fact that they don’t require much attention and grow in basically any type of soil is their biggest advantage.
Common heather - small and beautiful alpine garden shrubs
Is the common heather (Calluna Vulgaris) a well-known plant to you? No wonder, it’s a very popular perennial, or rather a shrub grown in rock gardens. Although most people associate them with autumn (and rightfully so, as it’s the time when they bloom) - they show their colors at the beginning of summer.
Purple varieties are the most popular. Decorative plants nurseries also offer white and pink flowers of this type. The pink ones look particularly beautiful - especially in autumn, when colorful leaves cover the ground around the rockery.
Heather plants are perfect plants for a rock garden located in an open space. They like sunlight - if provided with enough, they grow quick and bloom beautifully.
Common yarrow - underrated rock garden plants
When hearing the name “common yarrow” (Achillea millefolium), do you think of a wild medicinal herb used by older generations? You’re right! Those plants have become popular rockery plants as well.
Yarrow has quite tall stems with tiny white flowers. It looks very beautiful, although it’s underrated by some people. Because it grows quite tall - it’s typically used in large rock gardens so that it doesn’t cover other plants.
Aubrieta - tiny purple perennial plants for a rock garden
Aubrieta (Aubrieta × cultorum) resembles shamrock because of its leaves. It’s characteristic for its rich blooming. Thanks to this and the intense purple color, the plant can be easily spotted from afar.
Aubrieta is a perennial plant for an alpine garden. It’s one of the earliest-blooming plants. With good soil and weather conditions, you can notice the flowers as early as the beginning of April.
📍 What are the best plants for a sunny rock garden?
Moss phloxes are the best plants for rockeries located in full sun. But it's not your only choice. You can also pick alyssums, garden arabis or wild thyme.
📍 What are the best perennial rockery plants?
Perennial plants for an alpine garden are typically creeping plants. If your rock garden is large enough, you can plant myrtle or Amur silvergrass. Smaller rock garden plants include mossy saxifrage or Jenny's stonecrop.
📍 When can I plant rock garden plants?
A rock garden is a universal form of yard decoration, so you can plant in it from early spring to late autumn. Do you want to ensure that your rockery plants take root and bloom beautifully? Plant them between May and June - but make sure to know the recommendations for each plant.
📍 What are the best shade rockery plants?
If your rock garden is located in a shaded spot, make sure to plant shade-loving plants in it. This way, you can be sure of a beautiful result and blooming plants. Alumroot, blue bugle and creeping myrtle are good choices, in this case.
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