Top 5 Plants for Rock Gardens

By Bonnie Grant | July 16, 2016
Image by juefraphoto
by Bonnie Grant
July 16, 2016

Rock gardens are fun, multi-dimensional spaces. The opportunity to populate the garden with diverse plants can create a fascinating show of color, texture and form. Choose plants that will thrive in changeable conditions because sloping will cause some dry areas and the natural contours will create different lighting exposure. Many plants are suitable, from succulents to alpine specimens and even some evergreen shrubs.

Below are the top 5 plant choices for rock gardens:

1. Succulents – Low growing sedum is charming when seen gamboling over a rockery bed. It is hardy and dependable with many forms available. Echeveria is a rosette forming plant that is hardy to USDA zone 8. Euphorbia are small shrubs with fanciful flowers and ease of care. Hens and chicks are classics in the rock garden. Succulents are easy to grow and need little maintenance.

2. Shrubs – Shrubs have an evergreen aspect that keeps giving even in winter. Some forms to try might be Mugo pines, barberry, and Rockspray cotoneaster. The beauty of these plants is their persistence through all seasons and the dimension they can give to the garden.

3. Herbs – Herbs like Russian sage, lavender and creeping thyme enhance the rock garden with their scented flowers and kitchen garden usefulness. These are drought tolerant perennials which attract honey bees and produce bright blooms.

4. Ornamental Grasses – Grasses for rockeries should be compact, not self-seeding and low enough to accent other species but not cover them up. Fescues are just the right size, accommodating to other plants and adaptable. Mondo grasses come in black, green or variegated and are strappy little plants that can be tucked into any area. Ribbon grass is another tolerant plant which can thrive in bright sun or partial shade.

5. Ground Covers – Ground covers tie the whole planting scheme together. They are especially charming as they populate across the garden. Rock cress, rock soapwort, creeping phlox, ice plant, snow-in-summer and ajuga have accenting foliage and produce spring and summer blooms.

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