Introduction to Plants for Rock Gardens:
Rock garden plants are typically grown in very naturalistic settings among stones and rocks. Because many of these plants are native to the various mountainous regions around the world, they tend to be smaller in size and usually very hardy over the cold winter months. Here are a few of the many plants that you might choose to start off your own rock garden!
Thyme: Thyme are exceptional rock garden plants because they thrive well in low water conditions and offer fragrant leaves and colorful blooms. You can use thyme in your herb garden as well, or along borders or walkways. There are several different varieties of thyme that you can choose from.
Lemon Thyme: This shrub-like evergreen plant grows approximately 18" tall and has leaves with a distinct lemon scent. It will bloom pink flowers during the summer months and does well with full sun light and soil that is well-drained. Lemon thyme is hardy down to 0F.
Plants for Rock Gardens - Thyme:
Orange Thyme: This perennial grows to around 8" tall with foliage that carries a strong scent of oranges. This plant also has pink blooms during the summer and prefers to grow in full sun light with well-drained soil. Orange thyme is hardy down to -10F.
Juniper Leaf Thyme: This variety of thyme looks a lot like creeping juniper and it grows very close to the ground forming a carpet. It's pink flowers and dull green foliage bloom in the early spring, so these make especially nice plants for rock gardens and containers. Like the other varieties of thyme, this one also thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Juniper leaf thyme is hardy down to -20F.
Wild Thyme: A very fragrant perennial, you are likely to see this variety growing in different locations. A summer bloomer, this plant will grow to about 12" tall and produce pink or purple blooms. Wild thyme is hardy down to -20F.
Garden Thyme: One of the most commonly grown varieties in herb gardens, they also make great rock garden plants. Very bushy, growing up to around 16" tall, this variety will produce white or purple flowers near the end of spring or the beginning of summer. This variety is a very drought resistant type and is hardy down to -10F.
Plants for Rock Gardens - Flameflowers:
Talinum: Large Fameflower: These succulents are actually natives of the US Midwest and are extremely drought tolerant. The blooms will be bright pink flowers with yellow centers and they will certainly put on a show on those hot summer afternoons. They will make excellent plants for rock gardens provided you give them a sunny location and coil that is well-drained. Fameflowers are hardy down to -10F.
Okanogan Fameflower: This tiny succulent is typically found in British Columbia and Washington State. It grows a mere 2 inches tall and produces a hoard of small white flowers during a summer bloom. This plant is generally grown in sandy soil in full sun, and you will need to protect it from the winter wetness. Fameflowers are hardy down to -10F.
Plants for Rock Gardens - Dianthus:
Dianthus: Sweet William: These biennials will grow from 12 inches to 24 inches tall and produce spectacular blooms, however as a biennial, they will die off once the bloom cycle is complete. You can expect them to reseed only sparingly. They thrive in locations that have full sun and soil that is well-drained. Sweet Williams are hardy down to 0F.
Maiden Pink: This particular variety, originating in Asia and Europe, make great rock garden plants that might not get full sun all day long. The foliage will grow to a grayish green mound and produce gorgeous rose colored blooms that last all season long. Give them moderate waterings and good drainage and these plants will do well in zones 3-10.
Glacier Pink: A low cushion grower that produces bright pink blooms during the summer months. Best suited in a trough or a scree mix, these little beauties are great plants for rock gardens on a smaller scale. Native to the Eastern Alps, this variety prefers to grow in locations that get full sun, and soil that is slightly acidic and well-drained.
Sternkissen: Native to Western Europe, this variety of dianthus produces fragrant, beautiful pink flowers over the summer months on top of a dense cushion of foliage. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Sternkissen is hardy down to -30F.
Albanian Pink: This dwarf variant is sure to catch people's attention, even at its modest height of only 4 to 6 inches tall. These plants originated in the Balkans and during the hot summer months will provide plentiful pink and red flowers. Requires full sun and must be planted in well-drained soil. Albanian Pink is hardy down to 0F.
Plants for Rock Gardens - Lavender:
Lavender: Hidcote Superior: Lavender makes great rock garden plants because they are very drought tolerant and have low water requirements. This shrub variety is an evergreen from the Western Mediterranean that grows 16 to 18 inches tall and produces extremely fragrant deep blue flowers starting midsummer through September. Grow them in full sun and in soil that is well drained, and they will do very well in zones 5-8.
Lady Lavender: This shorter variety grows only about 12 inches tall and during the summer months will provide you with elegant lavender blooms. Very drought tolerant in full sun with soil that is well drained. Lady Lavender is hardy down to -20F which makes them great rock garden plants.
Rosea: These elegant compact shrubs are compact and make great plants for rock gardens, both big and small. This evergreen variety grows about 14 inches tall, have wonderfully fragrant leaves, and in the late summer months produces many pink blooms. Another variety of lavender from the Western Mediterranean, grow these in full sun with soil that is well drained. Also very drought tolerant and thrives in zones 5-8.
Other types of plants for rock gardens you can look into are Torch Lilies, Penstemon, Campanula, Columbine, Rosecoea, and Lady's Mantle, to name a few others.
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