The Best Plants for Rock Gardens

Most rock garden plants are small and compact, and tend to be tough and drought-resistant. Many of them flower profusely, in a range of brilliant colors.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Poached Eggs

Poached egg plant, Limnanthes douglasii, is simple to grow in almost any soil in a sunny spot. The bright white and yellow cup shaped flowers create a cheerful patch of ground cover. It will self seed freely and naturalize itself.

Purple Stars

Campanula, or bellflower, vary in size, shape, and plant form, but are usually various shades. They bloom from late spring into early summer with solitary blue flowers. It is effective as an edging or tumbling over a small rock cliff.

Seaside Flora

Also known as armeria maritime, sea thrift is an evergreen perennial that produces grassy mounds, with rounded flowerheads on stems. Colors range from white, pink or red. It can be used as groundcover, as edging plant or planted in rocks.

Cascading Color

Aubrieta, Aubrieta deltoidea, makes a colorful splash in early spring. It is a mat forming, evergreen perennial, and its flowers, in shades of purple and blue, cover the plant. It grows well in rockeries, at top of retaining wall or edging.

Catchfly Blooms

Campion, or catchfly, is colorful perennial great for mixed perennial border or rock garden. Valued for its brilliantly colored blooms against striking silver foliage, colors range from rose pink to white to red in late spring to summer.

Flowers and Flavor

Thyme, Bressingham Pink or Thymus doerfler, has attractive foliage, with flowers that are long lasting. It is drought tolerant, and one of the most useful herbs for the kitchen. Suitable for planting in rock or herb garden or border.

Intense Blue

Gentiana septemfida is highly valued for its true blue flowers. Low growing, they work wonderfully when tucked into crevices in stonewalls or nestled among other plants in the garden. The smaller ones are ideal for rock and alpine gardens.

Stonecrop Sedum

stonecrop sedum

Saxifrage Clusters

Saxifraga sancta, saxifrage, is a fully hardy perennial evergreen alpine with yellow flowers in early summer and late spring. It grows well in direct sun and prefers medium levels of water.


Tete a Tete is one of the most popular dwarf daffodils. It's ideal for planting in patio containers or at the front of the border. The deep golden yellow flowers appear in early spring, with each stem bearing up to 3 blooms.

Delicate Baby's Breath

Dorothy Teacher is a low-growing form of the ever popular Baby's Breath with airy sprays of pale pink flowers that get darker with age. Excellent ground cover and perfect in borders and containers. Prefers well-drained soil in sun.

Compact Pansy

Viola wittrockiana, Crystal Bowl Series pansy, produces small flowers in a wide color palette. This short lived plant is commonly used to create spots of color during fall, winter and spring.

Violet Star

Anemone blanda, Violet Star, bears large amethyst violet daisy-type flowers with fern-like foliage that are great for rock gardens. It is a low-growing perennial.

Dwarf Hardy Geranium

Geranium cinereum, Ballerina geranium, is a mounded dwarf perennial that has gray-green leaves and large purplish-pink flowers with purple veins and eyes. This geranium prefers full sun and good drainage.

Bugle Call

Ajuga reptans, multicolor common bugleweed, is an excellent, fast spreading ground cover with dark bronze green leaves with cream and pink markings. Quickly forms a dense, lusterous mat of rosettes, bearing blueish purple flowers spikes.

Dwarf Conifer

Juniperus communis, Compressa, is a wonderful upright, cone-shaped plant. It grows slowly and keeps a very narrow form, providing a lovely year round shade of green.

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