Last Updated on February 28, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
When building your rock garden, you should consider what types of plants you will be planting in it. We have some tips for plants that are easy to look after.
As with any kind of gardening, your choice of plants will depend on the local climate as well as on the size and position of your rockery.
Some of the easiest plants to grow are the various kinds of succulents, which need very little care.
Cacti also make decorative and easy-to-grow plants for a low-maintenance rockery.
Succulents and Cacti For Rock Gardens
|1m – 39″||Yellow|
|Aloe sp.||10cm to 2m – 4″ to 6ft||Red, orange, yellow|
|Bulbine sp.||25cm – 10″||Yellow|
|Cotyledon sp.||20cm to 2m – 8″ to 6ft||Various|
|Crassula sp.||30cm to 1m – 12″ to 3ft||Pink, red|
|Drosanthemum sp.||10cm to 60cm – 4″ to 24″||Pink, purple, red|
|Echeveria sp.||15cm to 30cm – 6″ to 12″||Red, yellow, orange|
|Euphorbia sp.||5cm to 2m – 2″ to 6ft||Various|
|Kalanchoe sp.||30cm to 1m – 12″ to 3ft||Various|
|Lampranthus sp.||15cm to 30cm – 6″ to 18″||Various|
|Mesembryanthemum crystallinum||8cm – 3″||White|
|Rochea coccinea (red crassula)||60cm – 24″||Red|
|Sedum sp. (stone crop)||15cm to 40cm – 6″ to 16″||Yellow, white|
|Sempervivum sp.||15cm to 30cm – 6″ to 12″||Purple, carmine, yellow|
If you live in an area which has heavy rain and is not so suited to the growing of cacti and succulents, you could make a conifer rock garden. There is a wide range of small conifers in very attractive shapes and colors to choose from and, once established, they need very little care.
Small shrubs are also a good choice -there are many varieties of old favorites that are compact-growing and these are ideal for a rockery.
Compact bedding plants, such as dwarf marigolds and dwarf ageratum, will add color to your rock garden.
Small Shrubs For The Rockery
|Barleria reptans||60cm – 24″||Red|
|Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Lowfast’||30cm – 12″||White, red berries|
|Cuphea hyssopifolia||30cm – 12″||Purple, white|
|Erica sp.||30cm to 2m – 12″ to 6ft||Various|
|Hebe sp. (veronica)||45cm to 1.25m – 18″ to 4ft||Various|
|Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’||30cm – 12″||Blue-gray foliage|
|Lantana montevidensis||60cm – 24″||Mauve|
|Leucospermum sp.’ (pincushion)||75cm to 2m – 30″ to 6ft||Red, yellow, orange|
|Protea sp.||1m to 5m – 3ft to 16ft||Various|
|Reinwardtia indica (yellow flax)||1m – 3ft||Yellow|
|Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’||60cm – 24″||Orange foliage|
Suitable For A Well Drained Rockery
Other popular plants for a rockery are the many different kinds of ericas, which also need well-drained, slightly acid soil. For growing most other plants, the soil should be a mixture of garden loam and compost, much the same as the soil you would use when growing these plants in your garden beds.
The most important thing to remember when choosing plants for a rock garden is to get plants that all need the same growing conditions, as this will make caring for them so much easier. The depth of soil in most rockeries is fairly limited, so it is best to choose plants with shallow root systems.
Avoid plants that grow very vigorously — these usually have large, invasive root systems and will quickly overgrow the rockery and choke out smaller plants.
Rock Garden Plants For Shade
If your rock garden is in a shady area of your yard, you can still plant it with many plants suited to shade.
While the majority of the more popular rockery plants (such as ericas and succulents) need a sunny position, there are many other shade-loving plants that can easily be grown in a rock garden.
The varieties you choose will depend on local conditions, the size of your rockery, and the depth of the planting pockets.
If yours is a sizable rockery, you could grow large ferns such as;
- Blechnum sp.
- Tree ferns
- Elephants ear
- Shade loving species of Cycads
- Philodendron sp.
- Acanthus mollis.
Rock Garden Plants For Deep Soil Pockets
Plants For A Small Rockery
- Various Ferns
- Hens and chicks (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Small-growing fuchsias
- Dwarf azaleas
- Shade loving groundcovers
Suited To Full Sun
Geraniums are a good choice for a rockery situated in full sun.
Perennial Plants For The Rock Garden
|Arctotis sp.||25cm to 35cm – 10″ to 14″||Orange, yellow|
|Convolvulus mauritanicus (ground morning glory)||20cm – 8″||Violet|
|Diascia integerrima (twin spur)||30cm – 12″||Red-pink|
|Erigeron macranthus||25cm – 10″||White|
|Felicia amelloides (blue daisy)||45cm – 18″||Blue|
|Gazania sp.||10cm to 15cm – 4″ to 6″||Various|
|Geranium incanum (carpet geranium)||15cm – 6″||Mauve|
|Gerbera jamesonii (Barberton daisy)||60cm – 24″||Various|
|Limonium sp. (statice)||60cm – 24″||Lavender, white|
|Nepeta mussinii (catmint)||20cm – 8″||Lavender|
|Osteospermum sp. (trailing daisy)||20cm to 50cm – 8″ to 18″||White, blue|
|Pelargonium sp. (geranium)||15cm to 70cm – 6″ to 28″||Various|
|Scabiosa caucasica (scabious)||75cm – 30″||Mauve|
Bulbs For The Rock Garden
|Anemone coronaria||30cm – 12″||Various|
|Babiana stricta (wine cup)||20cm – 8″||Purple|
|Clivia miniata||45cm to 75cm – 18″ to 30″||Orange|
|Freesia hybrids||40 cm – 16″||Various|
|Nerine sp.||45cm – 18″||Pink, red|
|Ranunculus asiaticus||30cm – 12″||Various|
|Tritonia crocata||45cm – 18″||Orange|
Annual Plants For The Rockery
|Ageratum houstonianum hybrids (floss flower)||20cm – 8″||Blue, pink, white|
|Arctotis hybrids||30cm – 12″||Red, orange, yellow|
|Dimorphotheca sinuata (Namaqualand daisy)||30cm – 12″||Various|
|Dorotheanthus bellidiformis||10cm – 4″||Various|
|Eschscholzia California (Californian poppy)||45cm – 18″||Various|
|Felicia bergerana (kingfisher daisy)||15cm – 6″||Blue|
|Linaria maroccana||45cm – 18″||Various|
|Lobelia erinus||15cm – 6″||Blue, pink, white|
|Lobularia maritima (alyssum)||15cm – 6″”||White, mauve, pink|
|Nemesia strumosa hybrids||30cm – 12″||Rose pink|
|Petunia hybrids||30cm – 12″||Various|
|Tagetes patula hybrids (dwarf marigold)||15cm to 25cm – 6″ to 10″||Yellow, orange, brown|
|Tropaeolum majus (nasturtium)||30cm – 12″||Various|
|Ursinia sp.||30cm – 12″||Yellow, orange|
|Verbena hybrids||20cm – 8″||Various|
Q. The geraniums in our rockery are all making a great deal of leaf growth but hardly any flowers. What could be the reason?
A. Geraniums and pelargoniums usually grow extremely well in a rockery, but they can fail to flower for a number of reasons. To bloom successfully, they must be in full sun, and they do best in light, fertile, free draining soil.
If the soil in your rockery is very rich – perhaps with too much compost in it – the plants will make lush leaf growth at the expense of flowers.
Over-watering geraniums, especially if the soil is poorly drained, can encourage the production of too many leaves. Over-feeding the plants with a high-nitrogen fertilizer could also result in too much leaf growth.
On the other hand, if the geraniums make flower buds that fail to open, they may have been stung by a type of fly whose developing maggots destroy the buds. If this is the case, spray the plants with carbaryl as soon as the buds appear.