Growing plants in rocks

In this guide we will be discussing 10 best plants to fill in your rock gardens.

Rock gardens are one of the most unique types of gardens that you can have, but with proper care for the plants that grow in the garden, you can have a beautiful place where plants can flourish. For this to occur, you are going to need to have plants growing there that can grow in areas with poor soil that may not get adequate water all of the time. There are a lot of plants that fall into this category, but in this guide, we will be considering 10 of the best to fill in your rock garden.

Contents

1. Douglas Moss Phlox

The leaves of this plant are dark green in color with a needle-like shape that is going to look great amongst the rocks of your garden. It tends to grow best in areas with a moderate temperature, but in is capable of growing in cooler environments as well. Typically, the blooms on this plant are shades of pink and purple. This is a plant that has a longer stem, which means that it will be able to cover rocks and add depth to your garden.

2. Yellow Alpine Alyssum

Adding yellow to your rock garden is a great way to brighten it up. This plant is a soft yellow, which makes it perfect as a plant that blooms in the spring. It is easy to grow; the plant is resistant to drought conditions, and it can thrive in soil that holds very little nutrients. Since this plant thrives in sunny conditions, it may have difficulty growing in shady areas or areas that get cold for part of the year.

3. Blue Fescue

Not many rock garden owners would consider an ornamental grass such as blue fescue for their garden, but it can be a great addition, especially considering the blue coloration that will make the rocks look more vivid. This plant will need to be in an area where it gets full sun so that the leaves can turn blue, and when it is maintained, the grass will create and maintain a sphere-like shape that is unique.

4. Prickly Pear Cactus

Many rock gardens are not tended to every day, which is why they need to be filled with hardy plants that will be able to take a lot of heat and sun as well as very little water. Drought resistant plants are typically best, which is why the prickly pear cactus is a great option. Of course, this cactus is going to have spines on the leaves, so you will need to take care while planting it in your rock garden. In addition, the pears on this plant are edible, which means that if you live in growing zones 10 or 11, you can even have a bit of extra fruit to enjoy throughout the year.

5. Rock Cress

If you are looking for a plant that will cover the rocks in your garden, the rock cress is a great option that will give your garden a softer look. This is a plant that does best in full sun, but it also requires quite a bit of moisture to survive. In fact, it tends to grow like moss, which means that moist ground will be beneficial for its growth. The blooms that these plants produce can be any color from blue and deep violet to a soft pink or lavender.

6. Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks are great plants for any rock garden because these small plants multiply as they grow, and because of their size, they are able to creep into the smallest spaces in the garden to make it fuller. They do not need a lot of water to grow, which makes them ideal for rocky soil that will not retain water. This is a flowering plant, but it is a great addition to the garden at any time because of the red, pink, and purple highlights that can be found on the leaves. Because these plants are so easy to grow, you will find them throughout the county.

7. Coral Bells

Many of the plants that we have considered thus far for a rock garden have had some type of green foliage to cover the ground and the rocks in the garden, but coral bells have much more colorful leaves that will brighten your garden throughout the year. Though the plant does bloom ,the pink and purple leaves are striking against the green foliage of other plants.

8. Thyme

Thyme is a very decorative plant that will look great in a rock garden. You can use the plant to decorate a specific area of the garden, or if you prefer more of a cover, a creeping variety is a great option to consider. Typically, the leaves are small and bright green, while the leaves are a light lavender or purple shade. Once the plant grows, you will be able to use the herbs to season your food as well.

9. Sedum

Also known as stonecrop, sedum is a great plant to consider for a rock garden. It is a succulent, which means that it will not require a lot of water to thrive, and it can take the heat of the sun without any issue. The blooms that this plant produces are star-shaped, which makes them stand out in most rock gardens. This plant is available in a variety of bloom colors, so you can use these plants to brighten up your rock garden quite a bit.

10. Aubrieta

If you want to brighten up your rock garden with purple flowers, then aubrieta is a great option to consider. It has small leaves and flowers that can easily grow between the rocks, and since it is a carpeting plant, it will spread to all of those hard to grow in places with ease. Typically, the blooms on this plant can vary in shade, so you can vary your garden a bit.

There are quite a few plant options for a rock garden; some add cover to the space, while others add color. Regardless of the plants that you choose, you will want something that grows well in rocky soil and can handle sun all day. Which plants do you find grows best in a rock garden?

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How to Create Your Own Traditional Rock Garden

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Here at Gertens, we offer information on how to create your own traditional rock garden. Read on for plant recommendations, placement ideas, and more!

What is a rock garden?

It is not just a garden with rocks but actually it was meant to be gardening with plants that are best suited for rocky conditions. They also call it alpine gardening. It has now evolved into a new garden trend where anyone can create a rock garden in their landscape and use plants that are not necessarily found in mountainous regions but are small enough to grow between rocks. The rocks and the plants accent each other.

Types of “rock gardens”

A rock garden can be anywhere or anything that you want it to be. There is the traditional rock garden, rock walls, and paths.

How to create your own traditional rock garden

Choose a location that can be big enough to not only have plants but rocks as well. Decide if you would like a sunny or a shady garden. And have a design or plan in mind. Choose plants that will be suitable for your sun requirements.
You can choose any size rocks, but it is best to mix sizes of rocks to give the garden depth. Large boulders and small stones should be used to fill in all different size gaps in your garden space.
Amend the soil by adding peat moss to the existing soil for healthy plant growth.
Place large boulders first with enough space between to add plants. Dig the large stones into the soil for support. Place the boulders in a staggered or non-uniform pattern to look more natural.
Lay out the plants around the large stones and adjust any plants and large stones to fit your plan or vision.
Add smaller stones to accent the larger stones and fill in any spaces in your landscape.

Choosing plants for your garden

Most rock garden plants stay small or can be pruned to stay small and live in shallow soil conditions. Gertens has a section of shrubs that are already chosen for rock gardens and must be pruned to stay small.
Choose plants that will do well in your sun conditions.
To make your garden be visually interesting throughout the year, add spring bulbs, perennials, and shrubs. For more flower interest have an annual area that can be easily planted every year.
Plants we recommend for rock gardens
Most perennials are good for rock gardens here are a few: Yarrow, Sedum, Thyme, Iris, Primula, Campanula, Phlox, Geranium, Anemone, Columbine, Dianthus, Pasque flower, Viola, Allium, Lady’s mantle, Foam flower, Coral bells, Thrift, and even Clematis.
Bulbs: It’s best to use smaller bulbs to plant in-between the rocks such as: Crocus, Scilla, and Narcissus
Shrubs: Smaller varieties are the best of these plants and all will most likely need to be pruned heavily to maintain size: Barberry, Juniper, Arborvitae, Cypress, Spirea, Pine, Potentilla, Rugosa rose.
Annuals: Any smaller annuals can be used such as: Moss rose, Marigold, or impatiens for a shade garden.

Other ideas for rock gardens

  • Creating a rock garden in your landscape wall
  • Plant small root perennial groundcover’s into a loose retained garden wall.
  • Make sure the wall has spaces in-between the stones to add some soil and a small plant.
  • You can have a living wall that adds depth interest to an otherwise boring retaining wall.
  • Perennials such as Thyme and ground cover Sedum work best.

Adding plants to your patio stone

Plant some small perennials in-between your patio stones.
Make sure your patio blocks are far enough apart to add soil and small plants to create texture and a new dimension for your stone path.
Perennial creeping Thyme is the best plant for this.
Rock gardens are a fun garden theme that can be used in anyone’s landscape.

30 Spectacular Plants For Your Rock Garden

30 Amazing Plants That’ll Rock Your Garden

Looking at your yard or garden area, do you find that some garden areas have many rocks? And maybe your soil is not ideal either. Do you have a rocky landscape? Maybe not much soil but pockets of soil here and there with more rocks than anything else. If you have a rocky landscape that is a challenge to grow plants in, then consider planting perennials that can withstand your soil conditions and works well with your rocky landscape. Transform your yard into a beautiful rock garden that performs like a rock star! How cool would that be?

Instead of using plants that have a low survival chance in your rocky yard, think about using plants that can grow in your yard and even flourish. Rocky landscape? No worries with these 30 rock garden plants that perform like rock stars in your rock garden. Trust me, there are many plant options to choose from that can live in a garden surrounded by rocks. Take a look at these 30 rock garden plants that can perform like rock stars in your rock garden. Be sure to tell us what you think.

  1. Silver Mound or Artemisia

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars – Silver Mound or Artemisia

Silver Mound or Artemisia has intricately cut icy, silvery leaves that are airy and soft to touch. Sun loving Silver Mound grows 8 to 12 inches tall spreading 12 to 15 inches wide and grows in zones 3 to 8. Silver Mound has white blooms but is grown mainly for its silvery foliage. Silver Mound is great as ground cover or in rock gardens where it will be a standout in your landscape.

2. Agastache Bolero or Hummingbird Mint

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars – Agastache Bolero Hummingbird Mint

Agastache Bolero or Hummingbird Mint is a compact growing perennial with rose purple blooming spikes that hummingbirds will adore. Agastache Bolero grows in zones 5 to 10, reaching between 12 to 18 inches in height, and blooms in mid Summer to Fall. Sun loving Agastache Bolero with its bronze tinted leaves attracts honey bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies when it blooms from midSummer to Fall. Bolero likes average soil but can adapt to dry soils.

3. Dragon’s Blood Sedum or Stonecrop

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars – Dragon’s Blood Sedum or Stonecrop

Dragon’s Blood Sedum or Stonecrop grows in zones 3 to 9 reaching between 4 to 6 inches in height, and 12 to 18 inches wide. Sun loving Dragon’s Blood Sedum has green leaves edged in dark cranberry and covered with vivid red, starry flowers that appear in mid to late Summer. Easy to grow Dragon’s Blood Sedum does well in either normal, sandy, or dry soil conditions. Dragon’s Blood tolerates dry sites, foot traffic, is both deer and rabbit resistant, attracts butterflies and birds, bee friendly, can be grown in containers, as a groundcover, evergreen, low maintenance, pest as well as disease resistant, can be used in small spaces, ideal for mass plantings and will naturalizes in a landscape setting. A dramatic selection for a rock garden!

4. Blue Moon Woodland Phlox or Wild Sweet William

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars – Blue Moon Woodland Phlox or Wild Sweet William

Fragrant Blue Moon Woodland Phlox or Wild Sweet William is a native groundcover with rich violet blue blooms that appear over the foliage from April to May. A true rock star in your rock garden, Blue Moon Phlox grows between 8 to 12 inches tall in zones 3 to 8 in normal or wet moist soil. A perennial Blue Moon Phlox is deer resistant, attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds, and likes garden areas that are full shade to half Sun and half shade.

5. Northern Maidenhair Fern

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars – Northern Maidenhair Fern

Northern Maidenhair Fern has grassy green foliage with jet black stems that are airy in appearance. Native Northern Maidenhair Fern grows in zones 2 to 8 reaching 12 to 18 inches tall and wide in full shade or half sun and half shade. Cold hardy Northern Maidenhair Fern has flat fronds that branch in a horseshoe type shape and can be planted in normal, acidic or moist wet soil. Northern Maidenhair is both deer and rabbit resistant, can be used as a ground cover or in rock gardens.

6. Bloodroot

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Bloodroot

Bloodroot has cigar-shaped leaves that unfurl slowly opening into large water lily-like foliage with white flowers and golden yellow centers that blooms from early to mid Spring. Bloodroot grows in zones 3 to 8 reaching 6 to 8 inches in height that likes full shade to half Sun and half shade. Native Bloodroot likes soil conditions that are either normal or moist and wet. It is bee friendly, can be used as a groundcover or in rock gardens. If ingested, Bloodroot can be toxic to some animals, so take care where it is planted.

7. Dwarf Crested Iris

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Dwarf Crested Iris

Dwarf Crested Iris has vigorous lilac blue blooms that appear in early to late Spring. A native plant, Dwarf Crested Iris grows in zones 5 to 8 reaching about 4 to 8 inches tall and likes a garden with full shade to half Sun and half shade light conditions. Dwarf Crested Iris is deer resistant and bee friendly, can be used as a groundcover, in rock gardens, in woodlands, or in small spaces. If ingested, Dwarf Crested Iris can be toxic to some animals, so take care where it is planted.

8. Blaze of Fulda Sedum or Stonecrop

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Sedum Blaze Of Fulda or Stonecrop

Blaze of Fulda Sedum or Stonecrop has dark maroon ruffled rosettes tinted with bronze green that forms a dense evergreen mat. The rose red blossom clusters bloom in mid to late Summer and like soil that is either normal or sandy. Blaze of Fulda Sedum grows in zones 4 to 9 reaching between 3 to 6 inches in height, and likes full Sun to mostly Sunny garden locations. Blaze of Fulda works well as a groundcover or on a slope or bank, attracts butterflies, hot dry site tolerant, humidity tolerant, blooms for 4 weeks or more, can be planted in containers, rabbit resistant, and is seaside and salt tolerant. Blaze of Fulda with its deep burgundy fall color is a favorite sedum to use in rock gardens and green roofs as well.

9. Lamium Golden Anniversary or Spotted Dead Nettle

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Lamium Golden Anniversary or Spotted Dead Nettle

Lamium Golden Anniversary or Spotted Dead Nettle has dark green leaves with golden yellow edges and a white center stripe that have lavender flowers blooming from mid Spring until late Summer. Lamium Golden Anniversary grows in zones 3 to 8 reaching about 8 inches in height and likes gardens with mostly Sunny to full shade. Lamium Golden Anniversary works well on a slope or bank, is both deer and rabbit resistant, dry shade tolerant, shade tolerant, can be used as a groundcover, and blooms for 4 weeks or more. Lamium Golden Anniversary likes soil that is either normal or clay.

10. Lamium Pink Pewter or Spotted Dead Nettle

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Lamium Pink Pewter or Spotted Dead Nettle

Lamium Pink Pewter or Spotted Dead Nettle has scalloped blue green margins with shimmering silver of pink pewter that brightens shady garden areas to serve as a foundation for the soft tubular pink flowers. Lamium Pink Pewter grows in zones 3 to 8 reaching about 6 inches tall and likes a variety of garden light conditions from mostly Sunny to full shade. Pink Pewter blooms from late Spring until early Summer and does well in either normal or clay soil. Lamium Pink Pewter is ideal for use on a slope or bank, is both deer and rabbit resistant, dry shade tolerant, shade tolerant, can be used as a groundcover, and blooms for 4 week or more.

11. Ajuga Bronze Beauty or Carpet Bugle

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Ajuga Bronze Beauty Or Carpet Bugle

Ajuga Bronze Beauty or Carpet Bugle has burgundy bronze foliage with lavender blue flowering spikes that appear from late Spring to early Summer. Ajuga Bronze Beauty, a groundcover, grows in zones 3 to 9 reaching about 3 inches tall, and likes a garden that has light conditions from full Sun to full shade. Bronze Beauty likes soil that is either normal, acidic, or clay. Ajuga Bronze Beauty is beneficial for pollinators, is both deer and rabbit resistant, attracts hummingbirds, dry shade tolerant, shade tolerant, foot traffic tolerant, seaside tolerant, blooms for 4 weeks or more, and can be used in a container garden, rock garden, or along garden borders.

12. Campanula Portenschlagiana or Dalmation Bellflower

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! Campanula Portenschlagiana or Bellflower

Campanula Portenschlagiana or Dalmation Bellflower has light blue, bell-shaped flowers from late Spring through Summer. A free flowering of carpet color, this bellflower is best trailing over walls, rock gardens or between stepping stones. Campanula Portenschlagiana grows in zones 3 to 8 reaching between 6 to 8 inches tall and likes a garden location with full Sun to mostly Shade. Dalmation Bellflower is beneficial for pollinators, humidity tolerant, shade tolerant, and can be used in as a groundcover or in a container garden. If planting in the Southern states, be sure to provide shade for this Campanula. Does well with either normal or clay soil for Campanula Portenschlagiana.

13. Campanula Poscharskyana or Serbian Bellflower

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Campanula Poscharskyana or Bellflower

Campanula Poscharskyana or Serbian Bellflower has starry blue flowers that trail clinging to dry walls with blooms appearing early to late Summer in soil that is either normal or clay. Campanula Poscharskyana grows in zones 3 to 8 growing abut 6 inches tall and likes a garden area that delivers full Sun to mostly shade. Serbian Bellflower will thrive around large rock gardens or along sandy banks. Campanula Poscharskyana is beneficial for pollinators, can be used as a groundcover, dry shade tolerant, shade tolerant, foot traffic tolerant, seaside and salt tolerant, and can be used in a container garden.

14. Geranium Shepherd’s Warning or Cranesbill

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Geranium Shepherd’s Warning Or Cranesbill

Geranium Shepherd’s Warning or Cranesbill has bright cerise pink flowers that rise above dense low growing foliage and bloom in late Spring to late Summer. Geranium Shepherd’s Warning grows in zones 4 to 8 reaching between 5 to 9 inches tall and likes a garden location with full Sun to mostly shade. Shepherd’s Warning’s leaves turns red in the Fall and does well in either normal or clay soil. Cranesbill works well planted as an edger or on a slope or bank, beneficial for pollinators, attracts butterflies, is deer resistant, shade tolerant, blooms for 4 weeks or more, and can be used in a container garden, rock garden, or at the edge of a woodland area.

15. Liriope Big Blue or Lilyturf

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Liriope Big Blue or Lilyturf

Liriope Big Blue or Lilyturf has spikes with blue flowers that rise above the grass like foliage that bloom from early to late Summer. Liriope Big Blue or Lilyturf grows in zones 5 to 10 reaching about 14 inches tall and likes garden areas with full Sun to mostly shade. This lilyturf thrives in a wide range of environments including dry shade to full Sun, soil such as normal, acidic, sandy, or clay. Liriope Big Blue does nicely on a slope or bank, for use as an ornamental or edging plant, is deer resistant, dry shade tolerant, shade tolerant, humidity tolerant, foot traffic tolerant, seaside and salt tolerant, evergreen, and as a great groundcover. After Big Blue blooms, clusters of blackberries appear providing some Fall garden interest.

16. Lithodora Grace Ward

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Lithodora Grace Ward

Lithodora Grace Ward has a spreading dark green mat of hairy leaves that produce blue star flowers from early Spring through early Summer. A true rock star with intense blue star flowers that are spectacular when grown around rocks or landscape boulders. Sun loving Lithodora Grace Ward grows in zones 6 – 10 and reaches the height of 6 inches. Lithodora Grace Ward is deer resistant, cold hardy, low maintenance plants, evergreen, can be used as a groundcover, and blooms for 4 weeks or more. Grace Ward is an excellent edger as a perennial border and does well in normal or acidic soils. A great addition for butterfly gardens, rock gardens, or woodland landscapes. This perennial is not recommended for zones 3 or 4.

17. Phlox Louisiana Blue or Wild Sweet William

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Phlox Louisiana Blue Or Wild Sweet William

Phlox Louisiana Blue or Wild Sweet William is invaluable to any rock garden, foundation, or edger with its intense rich dark blue fragrant flowers blooming from mid to late Spring. Phlox Louisiana Blue grows in zones 3 to 8 reaches about 12 inches tall and likes mostly Sun to mostly shade. Phlox Louisiana Blue is fragrant, attracts butterflies, dry shade tolerant, shade tolerant, wet site tolerant, tolerates normal or clay soil, and works as a great groundcover. Louisiana Blue planted en masse is a true rock star filling in around other perennials with a mat of loosely entwined stems. The semi-evergreen foliage turns burgundy in the Fall and Winter seasons.

18. Potentilla Neumanianna or Cinquefoil

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Potentilla Neumanianna or Cinquefoil

Potentilla Neumanianna or Cinquefoil has an evergreen mat of shiny, deep green scented leaves with bright yellow buttercup flowers that bloom from mid Spring until early Summer. Potentilla Neumanianna grows in zones 4 to 8 reaching 3 to 6 inches in height, and likes garden areas with full Sun to mostly shade. Potentilla Neumanianna works well on a slope or bank, beneficial for pollinators, deer resistant, hot dry site tolerant, shade tolerant, tolerates normal clay or sandy soil, evergreen, groundcovers, can be planted in containers, and is foot traffic tolerant. This rock star Potentilla is effective on garden walls or between garden path stones making this a rock garden classic perennial.

19. Anacyclus Garden Gnome or Mount Atlas Daisy

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Anacyclus Garden Gnome Or Mount Atlas Daisy

Anacyclus Garden Gnome or Mount Atlas Daisy has short stemmed white daisies and yellow eyes with bottom red petals that appear from mid Spring to late Summer. The Garden Gnome has a low forming mat of very fine, fern-like grey green leaves which gives it its rock star qualities. Sun loving Anacyclus Garden Gnome grows in zones 5 to 9 reaches between 4 to 6 inches tall and likes normal soil. Anacyclus Garden Gnome can be used as a groundcover, is hot dry site tolerant, drought tolerant, a rock garden favorite, and blooms for 4 weeks. The Mount Atlas Daisy closes their flowers at dusk and reopen in the dawn hours of the morning.

20. Arabis Snowcap or Rockcress

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Arabis Snowcap Or Rockcress

Arabis Snowcap or Rockcress has dense carpet grey green foliage that is covered with pure white blooms that are sweetly scented. Rockcress blooms from early to late Spring. Arabis Snowcap grows in zones 4 to 8 reaches about 8 inches tall and likes garden areas with full Sun to half Sun and half shade. Easy to grow Arabis Snowcap is beneficial for pollinators, attracts butterflies, is deer resistant, fragrant, evergreen, humidity tolerant, tolerates normal or sandy soil, can be used as a groundcover or a garden bed border, and blooms for 4 weeks or more. Snowcap is a rock star champion of rock gardens and can be planted with Spring blooming bulbs for a spectacular floral show in the Spring.

21. Fire Spinner Delosperma or Ice Plant

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Delosperma Fire Spinner Or Ice Plant

Fire Spinner Delosperma or Ice Plant has hundreds of flaming apricot orange petals with an inner flamboyant pink band and white eye with yellow stamens atop succulent apple green foliage. Fast spreading Fire Spinner blooms from early to late Summer delivering lushness to hot dry garden areas with poor soil. Performs with true rock star quality! Fire Spinner Delosperma grows in zones 5 to 8 and grows a mere 2 to 4 inches tall and likes garden locations with full Sun to mostly Sunny. Fire Spinner Ice Plant attracts butterflies, is deer resistant, hot dry site tolerant, drought tolerant, tolerates normal or sandy soil, can be used as a groundcover, blooms for 4 weeks or more, and can be used in container gardening.

22. Fire Wonder Delosperma or Ice Plant

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Delosperma Fire Wonder or Ice Plant

Fire Wonder Delosperma or Ice Plant has bright orange petals with an inner yellow band then white band with a white to yellow eye that blooms during the Summer. Sun loving Fire Wonder Delosperma grows in zones 5 to 10 reaching between 6 to 8 inches tall and thrives in poor quality soil with good drainage. Fire Wonder Ice Plant can be planted on a slop or bank, heat tolerant, drought tolerant, tolerates normal clay or sandy soil, and can be used in container gardens, garden beds and garden borders. Makes a big impact when planted en mass, in a rock garden or along a garden border.

23. Delosperma Garnet or Ice Plant

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Delosperma Garnet or Ice Plant

Delosperma Garnet or Ice Plant has long blooming bright neon garnet red petals with an inner ring of sizzling hot pink with yellow eye blooming from late Spring until early Fall. Sun loving Delosperma Garnet grows in zones 5 to 10 reaching between 4 to 6 inches tall and is a rock star garden favorite. From the Jewel of the Desert Series, Garnet Ice Plant attracts butterflies, is deer resistant, hot dry site tolerant, tolerates both normal or sandy soils, groundcovers, blooms for 4 weeks or more, and can be used in container gardening or in a rock garden to perform like the superstar that it is.

24. Delosperma Golden Nugget or Ice Plant

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Delosperma Gold Nugget Or Ice Plant

Delosperma Golden Nugget or Ice Plant dazzles with its glossy yellow flowers over the bright green succulent foliage from late Spring until early Fall. Low growing with big impact Delosperma Golden Nugget grows in zones 4 to 8 reaching between 2 to 3 inches in height and grows in a garden area with full Sun to mostly Sunny. This hardy ice plant has foliage that turns maroon in the Winter making it attractive year around. Golden Nugget Ice Plant attracts butterflies, is deer resistant, hot dry site tolerant, tolerates either normal or sandy soil, can be used as an edger or as a groundcover, blooms for 4 weeks or more, and can be used in container gardening. A super star with its intense neon yellow blooms it brightens a rock garden or an alpine trough area.

25. Delosperma Peridot or Ice Plant

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Delosperma Peridot Or Ice Plant

Delosperma Peridot or Ice Plant dazzles in your rock garden with its sunny yellow colored petals and inner halo of white flowers from late Spring until early Fall. A Jewel of the Desert series, Delosperma Peridot grows in zones 5 to 10 growing between 4 to 6 inches tall and loves full Sun. Peridot Ice Plant attracts butterflies, is deer resistant, hot dry site tolerant, tolerates both normal and sandy soils, can be used as a groundcover, blooms for 4 weeks or more, and can be used in container gardening.

26. Sagina Subulata or Irish Moss

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Sagina Subulata Or Irish Moss

Sagina Subulata or Irish Moss has lush deep green moss-like foliage carpet with tiny star-shaped white flowers appearing early to late Spring. Sagina Subulata grows in zones 4 to 8 reaching a mere 1 inch tall and does well in a garden setting with full Sun to part Sun and part shade. Irish Moss with its dainty white flowers makes a fantastic groundcover, is humidity tolerant, tolerates normal or clay soil, and light foot traffic tolerant. Irish moss has the rock star power needed for a rock garden, around garden stone steps or garden pavers. Lush and fresh, Irish moss is a true star!

27. Sedum Kamtschaticum or Stonecrop

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Sedum Kamtschaticum Or Stonecrop

Sedum Kamtschaticum or Stonecrop has clusters of star-shaped yellow flowers that appear from early to late Summer. Sedum Kamtschaticum grows in zones 3 to 10 reaching about 6 inches tall and loves garden areas that have full Sun to mostly Sunny light. Kamtschaticum has scalloped foliage with glossy deep fleshy, spoon-shaped leaves that matures to bronze reddish tones in the Autumn months. Kamtschaticum Stonecrop can be planted on a slop or bank, attracts butterflies, is both deer and rabbit resistant, can be used as a groundcover, hot dry site tolerant, humidity tolerant, foot traffic tolerant, seaside tolerant, tolerates normal clay or sandy soils, blooms for 4 weeks or more and can be used in a container garden.

28. Sunsparkler Dazzleberry Sedum or Stonecrop

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Sunsparkler Dazzleberry Sedum Or Stonecrop

Easy to grow Sunsparkler Dazzleberry Sedum or Stonecrop has foliage that is a unique blue with graphite shades that is striking with its crimson red blooms that appear in the Fall and Summer. Sun loving Sunsparkler Dazzleberry Sedum grows in zones 4 to 9 in soil that is either normal, clay or sandy. Reaching between 6 and 10 inches tall, Sunsparkler Dazzleberry Sedum can be planted on a slop or bank, is both deer and rabbit resistant, attracts butterflies and pollinators, heat and drought tolerant, blooms for 6 weeks or more, can be planted in a garden bed, garden borders, and the blooms can be used as cut flowers. Once established Sunsparkler Dazzleberry with its super rock star power, thrives in poor soil and requires little care.

29. Lemon Ball Sedum or Stonecrop

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Lemon Ball Sedum Or Stonecrop

Lemon Ball Sedum or Stonecrop has super sunny lemon yellow blooms and yellow foliage. Lemon Ball Sedum grows in zones 7 to 11 reaching about 6 inches tall and up to 3 feet wide, loves full Sun with well-draining soil. Easy to grow Lemon Ball Sedum is heat tolerant, can be used as a groundcover or edging plant, in a rock garden, in raised garden beds, patio containers or hanging baskets. When planted en masse alongside roses or perennials, Lemon Ball makes a stunning garden landscape. For rock star power, plant Lemon Ball in nooks and cracks of a rock garden and watch it perform.

30. Thymus Highland Cream or Creeping Thymus

30 Rock Garden Plants That Perform Like Rock Stars! – Thymus Highland Cream Or Creeping Thyme

Thymus Highland Cream or Creeping Thymus has variegated edges of cream colored leaves with pink flowers that appear in mid to late Spring. Thymus Highland Cream grows in zones 4 to 8 reaches 2 to 4 inches tall and does well in a garden with full Sun to part Sun and part shade. Creeping Thymus can be planted on a slope or bank, beneficial for pollinators, is deer resistant, an evergreen, can be used as a groundcover, and is foot traffic tolerant. Thymus Highland Cream likes soil that drains well and is either normal or sandy. A great selection for use around garden path stone work or in the stone cracks. A mighty Rock Star for use around rock gardens.

Rocky landscape? Poor soil conditions? No worries with these 30 rock garden plants that perform like rock stars! Transform your rocky landscape into a stage for any of these rockstar plants and let them rock like there’s no tomorrow. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on plants that can’t perform like these can. Work with the landscape you have and plant rock garden perennials that can flourish among your landscape rocks and soil. Trust me you’ll be glad you did!

If you try any of these 30 Rock Garden Plants that Perform Like Rock Stars be sure to let us know how you make out. For information on perennials that like sandy soil, see our posts 50 Sandy Soil Perennials that like Sun or 22 Sandy Soil Perennials for Shade. For information on drought resistant perennials, see our post 25 Drought Resistant Perennials. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below. We always are ready to help you out.

Rock Garden Ideas

How to Make a Rock Garden

Many people make rock gardens if they already have a lot of rocks on their land in which case they don’t have to source them from elsewhere.

If you have an abundance of stone and you need to think of something to do with it, creating a rock garden is an ideal way of tidying up a rocky landscape.

It’s great fun carefully choosing and arranging the rocks to make it look artistic and stylish. Try to maintain a naturalistic look when you arrange the stones in your landscaping project.

To begin, make a raised bed with rocks and soil using large rocks for the bottom, and smaller ones for the top.

Get creative and arrange the stones as you like them or think they look best. Try to remember you will need to maintain the rock garden aswell so don’t make it too difficult to plant and weed between the rocks.

It’s hard work and fun but basically that’s it: now you only have to choose, arrange and plant your chosen rock plants.

Since they are usually sold as grown plants, there is not much hard work for you to do and all the hard work has already been done in moving and arranging the rocks.

Rocky areas in the yard don’t have to be ignored: turn these shady and rocky places into beautiful rock gardens! You can make a truly wonderful masterpiece in your garden if you know a little about the plants and you have a good eye for arranging rocks. If you haven’t got any rocks or stones of your own, or are looking for something different to introduce to your garden, you will likely have to buy some in for the purpose.

When designing a rock garden, selection is relevant. You don’t necessarily have to choose the most rare and stylish plants, after all the most common ones are popular for a reason: they are beautiful and easy to grow.

A rock garden can be a real work of art. Each of the plants that you choose should be chosen for a reason, each of them should have their own role in the group.

Even though these plants are small, they have other qualities that make them stand out and catch the eye.

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Rock Garden Plants

Rock garden plants are more resistant, hardier, and don’t need as much water and sun as other types of plants and flowers.

Because of this great quality, they can survive in shady areas as well.

There are many types of rock plants to choose from, but here are some points to consider.

Plants from the group of the Rock Cresses (Aubrietia) are great plants, they like all soil types, and they have beautiful purple flowers.

If you plant these you will see that it almost looks like a purple blanket in bloom. You can plant them near to white Arabis and have a great colour effect.

For an even more brilliant contrast, add golden coloured Alyssum near these groups. Other plants that fit very well together are the Alpine Wallflowers and the Iberis Sempervirens. The first one has a deep golden colour, while the latter has a soft white one. This combination will look very good no matter how you arrange the plants.

Perennial ornamental grasses, a lot of which are evergreen, are also a good choice.

What Makes a Good Rock Garden Plant?

Rock garden ideas are all about colours. Choose the colours and the species well.

Since this is the most important step it is better to choose a few varieties of the same family of rock plants than it is to choose too many different species.

You can group these representatives close to each other, this way creating the desired picaresque effect. Before you decide the colour combination that you want to use for your rock garden, remember that colour harmony is not always the best way to go.

Strong contrasts can be more noticeable and more interesting. Be innovative with your rock garden ideas! By choosing two contrasting colours you can make your garden look like a work of art.

The colour of the rocks should also be considered when you choose the colour of the flowers.

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Does your homestead landscape have some empty space that could become a rock garden? Also known as a rockery, a rock garden adds dramatic year-round visual interest to any landscape while expanding the type of plants you can grow.

A rock garden, glowing with brightly colored perennials, can add a splash of color to an otherwise dark corner of your landscape. Planted with perennial culinary and medicinal herbaceous plants, the homestead rock garden adds value to the property. The plants can function as a storehouse of fresh herbs for personal use, or to sell as a cash crop at the local farmer’s market.

Planning A Rock Garden

When it comes to planning out the rock garden, use your imagination! A rock garden can be as small or as large as you want. Do the research to determine what species of plants will grow best in your area, and select the rock garden layout from there. An Internet search, or visit to a local landscape nursery, for inspiration is a good starting point.

A visit to a local garden or park can give you the rock garden inspiration that you need. Kevin M Klerks / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Choose plants for your rock garden based on size, color, and growing habits. Plants native to your area are most likely to flourish, as they are acclimated to local growing conditions.

Choosing A Location

Most types of plants that grow well in rock gardens require adequate light. Build and develop your rock garden where it will receive plenty of sunshine, away from shade and shadows that are created from trees and buildings. It is best to select a location that will have a few hours of strong sunlight, rather than one that receives light shade throughout the day.

Preparing The Rock Garden

Cultivate the soil well, removing rocks, weeds, and debris. By having a clear area, you’ll be able to have a “blank canvas” for laying out your rocks. Additionally, the lack of weeds and debris will allow the plants in your rock garden to flourish!

Getting Started

Experienced gardeners suggest getting started on your rock garden in the fall or winter, allowing the rocks and soil a chance to settle before adding plants in the spring. In northern climates, planting perennial plants in the spring allows the plant to be well established before winter winds blow.

Selecting The Best Rocks

Keep in mind that when designing a rock garden, the rocks selected for the garden are just as important as the plants. When laying out the design of your rock garden, always place the largest rocks first and finish up with smaller stones.

Just a coupla #rockgarden weenie beans 🌿🐶🐶🌿

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Bury larger rocks with at least a third of the rock below the soil level to create a natural appearance. A rock garden can be contoured as an erosion control diversion when landscaping on a steep slope. To achieve harmony, continuity, and balance, use just one type of stone per garden.

Positioning The Rocks

When laying out the stones, be creative and take advantage of where you place each stone to show it off. If the stone selected for the rock garden displays layers, or strata, it is best to place them in a horizontal direction to mimic nature.

Position boulders and stones in conjunction with soil berms to create rock garden topography of peaks and valleys. Placing them in this way will also encourage drainage. Most rock garden plants require fast-draining soil and cannot live in an environment of standing water.

Once you are finished with stone selection, placement, and soil amendments, it is time to choose hardy, low-maintenance plants acclimated to your U.S. Plant Hardiness Zone.

Northern Rock Gardens

A well-planned rock garden provides an ideal environment for many alpine species in northern climates. Alpine-type plants grow best on rocky mountain slopes with excellent drainage and plenty of light. By adding rocks, and doing a bit of planning, the home gardener can “mimic” the plant’s native habitat in miniature.

Alpine plants. Akos Kokai / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Alpine plants thrive in most any type of soil with excellent drainage. They are adaptive and will do quite well in dry and impoverished soil, but will do much better in a loose mix of well-drained, nutrient-rich soil.

Creating Ideal Soil Conditions

To provide these conditions in the garden, prepare a soil mixture to pack between the rocks. Blend a mixture of three parts organic topsoil, 1 part aged herbivore (horse, cow, sheep, goat, llama) manure, one part peat moss, one part small washed gravel or coarse horticultural grit, and one-part horticultural sand.

Blend this mixture well. Do not use sand you gathered at the beach: the salts and other contaminants in the sand will kill your plants.

Information On Alpine Plants

When choosing flowers for northern rock gardens, be sure to check the United States Plant Hardiness Zone for the plants you are considering. Keep in mind when you’re planning your garden that alpine plants are perennials. There are no annual alpine plants.

Alpine plants are propagated from seed, bulbs, tubers, or rootstock. Iris, Tulips, Narcissus, Northern Blue Flag, Bluets, Canada Anemone, Ice plant, Crocus, Wild Bergamot, and Joe-Pye Weed do well in northern rock gardens.

An alpine rock garden in full bloom. Bernard DUPONT / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Joe-Pye Weed is an especially vigorous plant with delicate flowers whose scent attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Altitude also factors into plant selection. Alpine plants, suitable for rock garden planting, typically do best in high altitudes. Alpine plants are usually small, low-growing plants that are tolerant of extreme temperatures. Most alpine plants are exceptionally hardy, woody, and evergreen. They may be herbaceous or deciduous as well.

Alpine plants are well suited for northern rock gardens, as they are minimal and barely touched by cold north winds. Small and compact, alpine plants can bear the weight of heavy winter snow loads.

Other Effective Plants For Northern Rock Gardens

Although not considered alpines, Dianthus (known as “Pinks”), all varieties of Sedum, Pasque Flower, and Creeping Thyme thrive in northern alpine rock gardens.

Winter hardy Variegated Creeping Thyme, Creeping Phlox, Rock Soapwort, Chick and Hens, and English Ivy make attractive additions to your northern rock garden.

Quenched 🌱 #inthegarden #hensandchicks #succulent #succulentgarden #rockgarden #aftertherain

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Kinnikinnik, a low-growing and cold-hardy evergreen, is undoubtedly the best native ground cover for homestead gardens in the Pacific Northwest.

Positioning The Plants

When choosing plants for your rock garden, select low-growing perennial plants to place in the foreground. Pick a few taller plants for balance, height, and to complement large boulders or a rock outcropping. Medium sized winter-hardy plants suitable for rock garden placement include Lavender, Pennycress, Autumn Joy Sedum, Columbine, Iris, California Poppies, Bellflowers, and Moonbeam Coreopsis.

Playscape and rock garden, with garden boxes to come! #thegreenseedpdx #ecofriendly #landscaping #design+build #familyownedandoperated #nature #rockgarden #timetorelax #ecolandscape #summer #kidsplayarea #playscape #goodbyegrass

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In addition to alpine plants and low-growing winter hardy perennials, a rock garden can include ornamental grasses. These grasses include Purple Fountain Grass, Bottlebrush Grass, Northern Prairie Dropseed, and small shrubs and dwarf conifers such as Blue Rug Juniper.

Consider Hardiness Zones

When purchasing rock garden plants online, from a nursery, greenhouse, or local garden center, determine where the stock originated. Plant stock from a warm climate may be less hardy than is required for your northern garden. It is best to choose plants cultivated in United States Hardiness Zones 2 through 4. The lower the zone number, the hardier the plant. Select robust plants with a strong and well-developed root system.

Southwestern Rock Gardens

If you live in a hot, southwestern climate, you have the ability to duplicate the rocky and arid conditions of the desert to cultivate cacti and succulents.

Dare to be different. 🌵❤ #cactus #succulent #rockgarden #garden #phoenix #arizona #beautiful

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When adding a hardscape element such as a rock garden to your landscape, select native rocks that blend with other rocks or rock materials on your property.

Euphorbia Plants

When choosing plants for a dry and arid rock garden location, you can’t go wrong with Euphorbia. An awesome family of succulents available in a diverse array of sizes, shapes, and colors, Euphoria are extremely drought and heat tolerant.

Euphorbia plants are perfect for Southwestern rock gardens. Amanda Slater / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Euphorbia presents shallow roots for ease of planting between rocks and landscape elements. While most varieties of Euphorbia are low growing ground covers that are less than six inches tall at maturity, other varieties can reach six feet tall.

Check the plant label to make sure you are getting the appropriate size for your rock or wall garden site. Myrtle Spurge is a favorite for its delicate leaves and sunshine yellow flowers. The easy to grow plant forms mounds 12-to-18 inches wide, and 8-to-12 inches tall.

Talk To The Professionals

Depending on the size and scope of your rock garden project, you may want to consider consulting an established professional landscape contractor. The contractor can secure an estimate on the materials and installation cost of the project you have in mind.

If you are planning a small rock garden, you can manage with a little muscle, shovel, crowbar, and wheelbarrow.

For more complex projects consider hiring a professional. Clotee Pridgen Allochuku / Flickr (Creative Commons)

By planning ahead, you may realize that you want to leave the job in the hands of professionals who are experienced and equipped to do the job properly. Realizing this sooner, rather than later, will save you a lot of time and heartache.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that some rock gardens may be a bit slow to establish. The majority of rock garden plants and ground covers require two to three years to become sufficiently dense. Once the plants are dense, they will provide full soil coverage and control weeds.

#succulents #rockgarden #summer #garden

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Fast-growing plants can help fill in bare spaces, and then be cut back or transplanted to other locations as the rock garden matures. Be patient, and you will have a eye-catching rock garden in no time!

  • Native Plant Landscaping Made Easy, King County
  • Ground Covers & Rock Gardens, Colorado State University Extension
  • Garden Of The Season, Alpine Garden Society
  • Myrtle Spruge, Colorado Department of Agriculture
  • Alpines & Rock Gardens, Let’s Go Gardening

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