Plants of the rock garden

What types of plants would you expect to find in a rock garden? Typically, you will find alpine plants, dwarf conifers, and sun or heat-loving plants that are drought resistant. Some rock gardens are within shady areas in which case the you will find more shade-loving plants. The best plants for rock gardens tend to be on the small side and need good drainage. Creeping plants are fun to use too, because they soften the hard edges of the rocks and help blend your plantings over time.  Succulents are also classic rock garden plants and are fun to tuck in amongst the rocks. 

It always nice to include flowering plants but when you are selecting flowers for the rock garden remember to consider size and color. Most rock gardens utilize smaller plants. In general, for big rocks, select bigger flowers. For small rocks, choose small flowers. The flowers should be smaller than the rock and accent the rock, not hide them. You can have a lot of fun with the color of the flowers, just make sure they complement or contrast with the rock colors you have selected. Using perennials is great as it allows you to plant once, and the perennials will grow for years with little attention. You can use herbs, too. 

Some plant suggestions for sunny areas: 

  • Achillea tomentosa (Wooly Yarrow)
  • Arenaria montana (Mountain Sandwort)
  • Armeria maritima (Sea Pink)
  • Arabis – various species (Rockcress)
  • Aubretia – various species (Aubretia) 
  • Dianthus – various species (Pinks)
  • Campanula carpatica (tussock bellflower)
  • Campanula cochlearifolia (earleaf bellflower)
  • Campanula portenschlagiana (dalmation bellflower)
  • Leontopodium nivale (Edelweiss)
  • Papaver alpinum (Alpine poppy)
  • Heuchera – various cultiars (Coralbells)
  • Iberis sempervirens (candytuft)
  • Iris cristata (Dwarf crested iris)
  • Iris pumila (dwarf iris)
  • Iris reticulata (netted iris)
  • Phlox subulata (creeping phlox)
  • Teucrium chamaedrys (wall germander)
  • Penstemons – various cultivars (beardtongue)
  • Sagina subulata (Irish-Moss)
  • Saponaria -various species (soapwort)
  • Sedums – various types (stonecrop)
  • Sempervivum tectorum (Hens & Chicks)
  • Thymus (creeping thyme)