31 Best Plants For Rock Garden

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Best Plants for rock garden

The best plants for the rock garden allows you to make a beautiful display of alpine or small plants. It is simple to make – all you need are large stones or rocks, a mix of rockery plants, and free-draining soil. Well, you can grow both shades- and sun-loving plants. The sun-loving plants can be raised in the front while the shade-loving plants can be raised in the shade cast by big rocks.

Alpine plants are natural to mountain areas, which are normally dry and cold – in these normal conditions that stop the plants from getting tall. Still, many other small plants are fit for growing in rock gardens that are not significantly alpines and increase in milder conditions. Growing a mix of non-alpine and alpine plants makes for a beautiful rock garden display. So, in this article, we will share some of the best plants for your rock garden.

Some Best Rock Garden Plants

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla Vulgaris)

Pasque flower is a small, growing, clump plant. Well, it is the first bloomer in the spring season, making the color to the scenery. It prefers a humusy soil or well flowing sandy and can feel light shade.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: white, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Complete sun to part shade
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining, gritty, humusy, medium moisture 

Pink (Inshriach Dazzler)

Pinks, Dianthus, got their name from the jagged edge of the petals, that look as though they have been carefully trimmed with pinking clippers. These flowers have a clove-like fragrance. There are so many flowers to choose from, with flower colors ranging from green to grey and pink. Most are small plants. Raise these plants in the complete sun to partial shade in damp but well-stream soil.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
  • Color Varieties: Green, Pink, Grey
  • Sun Exposure: Complete sun to part shade
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining, sand, chalk, loam 

Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme is fragrant like the edible herb, but it is primarily raised as a ground cover or to fill the area between stepping rocks. The plant will fall over low stone walls and rocks in the rock garden to relax the setting. It easily grows in nutrient-poor soil as long as it has well drainage.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Pink
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, Average, well-draining

Houseleeks (Sempervivum)

Houseleeks is a mat-forming plant that produces rosette groups. The main rosettes are called “hens,” and the small rosettes that branch from them are called “chicks.” The plant thrives well in rock gardens and on the stone walls or between garden stepping rocks.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Red-purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Aubretia

Plants for rock gardens – Aubretia

Aubretias are remarkably popular for rock garden plants, having low-growing beds of color in early summer and late spring. It grows in well-drained soil in complete sun.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: White, pink, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: rocky, alkaline soil, well-draining

Trailing Bellflower

Serbian Bellflower, scientific name (Campanula poscharskyana), is a low-growing, covering alpine campanula that goes well in pots and as ground spreads in warm sunny corners. It carries pieces of small, purple-blue, star-shaped flowers from early autumn to summer. It grows in well-drained soil in complete sun.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Blue, White, pink, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: chalk, clay, loam, well-draining

Saxifrage

Saxifrages are heaps forming, high evergreen plants, having rosettes of leaves from high stems of flowers emerge from spring to summer. It grows in wet, but well-drained soil with medium to full shade.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 7
  • Color Varieties: Red
  • Sun Exposure: Light Shade
  • Soil Needs: sandy, rocky

Gentian

Gentians can be challenging to grow, but they are useful for displaying the trumpet-shaped plant covers of almost damp leaves. They are the perfect plants for the rock gardens. And it grows in neutral to acidic soil in complete sun.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Color Varieties: Red, blue, white, yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: chalky, well-draining

Gypsophila cerastioides

Gypsophila cerastioides, or we can say, mouse-eared gypsophila is a dwarf, semi-evergreen plant with a spreading habit. Grey-green hairy leaves differ with a pile of small white trumpet-shaped petals in the spring season. It grows in well-drained soil in full sun.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: white, cream
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: sandy, well-draining

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

Candytuft, with its fancy flowers that blossom in mid-spring, and it is often used in edging or rock gardens. Though its leaves make a pretty pattern, the flowers manage to have a fairly unpleasant smell. Still, this flower is tolerant of dryness and can even manage being raised in a little shade.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Color Varieties: pink, white
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: well-draining, medium moisture 

Erodium × variabile

This plant is related to cranesbills and geraniums; Erodium is called ‘stork’s bill’ due to the shape of their ripe seed pods. This plant has five-petaled flowers that are not unique to cranesbills, which come in the range of colors, including purple, pink, red, white, and yellow. Erodium x variabile makes a dense matt of leaves, from that pure white flowers, appear from May to September. It grows in well-drained soil in complete sun.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
  • Color Varieties: pink, white, red, purple, yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: well-draining, alkaline soil 

Lithodora diffusa’ Heavenly Blue’.

Lithodora looks like gentian-like flowers through the middle of the summer when less true gentians blossom. It is easier to raise than flowers well and gentians. It has evergreen covers of leaves spread slowly to make a great ground cover on a screen or rock garden. It grows in well-drained, acidic soil in full sun.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Blue
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: well-draining, acidic soil

Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)

The purple ice plant is usually used as a ground cover, and it can bloom all summer long. The plant can endure the drought and heat, although it will fall if it does not have proper drainage.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
  • Color Varieties: Red, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: well-draining, average to lean, dry

Angelina Stonecrop

Angelina stonecrop (Sedum Rupestre Angelina) is a spreading ground flower that spreads quickly to form a mat, which is only about 6 inches tall. The more sun the flower gets, the more golden its leaves turn. It creates small, star-shaped yellow blossoms in early to mid-summer.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop

Some little rock garden plants are climber, including the dragon’s blood stonecrop. This sedum spurium can stand some drought, as well as rocky, shallow soil. Butterflies do like its small pinkish-red flowers.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Pink
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, acidic, well-draining

Blue Fescue Grass

Blue fescue is an exquisite grass spread for its blue-tinted leaves and yellowish-green flowers. It creates its best leaves in the complete sun but can stand a few shades, too. The plant grows to a height and lay off about the foot.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Light green, yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Snow in Summer (cerastium tomentosum)

Snow in summer gets the name from its natural white flowers that bloom in early summer and cover the ground like a fresh snowfall. The flower is low-growing and can grow in poor rocky or sandy soil, although it must have good drainage.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Color Varieties: White
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry, sandy, well-draining

Ajuga (Ajuga Reptans)

Ajuga is a quickly spreading mat ground cover, and it can become invasive under the best-growing conditions. On the additional side, it can fill in slightly shady spaces where other plants will not grow. Avoid planting ajuga reptans close to lawns where it can spread. Rather, keep the plant contained in a pot or rock garden.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
  • Color Varieties: Blue, violet
  • Sun Exposure: part shade, full sun 
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, average, well-draining

Creeping Phlox (Phlox Subulata)

Creeping phlox is a ground-covered plant usually seen in filling in crevices or rock gardens, slopes, or stone walls. It thrives well in gravelly or sandy soil and can stand drought and heat better than some of the other phlox kinds.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: purple, blue, red, pink, white
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, humusy, well-draining

Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulated)

The iris reticulated is an early bloomer flower in the spring. As it is a little flower, it grows only about 6 inches tall, and it is best planted in sizes to maximize visual impression. Besides, it is essential that the bulbs rest in somewhat dry soil during their summer inactive, giving the plant ideal for a well-draining rock garden.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: purple, blue 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, average, well-draining

Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)

With its purple dye leaves, wood spurge can create a colorful impression in the rock garden. The plant accepts poor soil, but it needs good drainage. It can manage some shade, mostly in the afternoon, but over shade can cause the flower to lose its shape.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Moonbeam Coreopsis (coreopsis verticillata moonbeam)

Moonbeam coreopsis is an everlasting flower from the daisy-like flower family. It grows in rocky soil or poor sand, and it can stand some heat, drought, and humidity. It is famous as a border planting, but its growing conditions also make it an excellent candidate for a rock garden.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Lavender (lavandula spp.)

With its fragrant leaves and beautiful blossoms, lavender is versatile and 

looks beautiful in the garden. Use the plant in a herb garden, rock garden, or even as a low hedge or edging. It prefers light, slightly barren soil with excellent drainage.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Average, alkaline, dry to medium moisture, well-draining

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

A flowering endless, yarrow is famous as a rock garden or edging plant. It thrives well in normal garden soil but can stand poor soil and drought. This plant can be an energetic spreader, so it is best in a contained space.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: White, pink, yellow, red
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Lean, dry to medium moisture, well-draining

Autumn Joy Sedum (hylotelephium herbstfreude)

Autumn joy will stand well-draining, loamy soil, but it grows in gravelly or sandy soil. The plant does not need much water and has great drought tolerance. It spreads about 2 feet tall and creates tiny flowers that go from pink to red.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Pink, red, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Spiked Speedwell (Veronica spicata’ Royal Candles’)

Spiked speedwell is a small perennial plant that is great for rock gardens, foundation plantings, borders, flower beds, and more. The plant grows best with normal moisture and excellent drainage. But it doesn’t like soggy soil.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Blue, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, average, well-draining

Columbine (aquilegia spp.)

Columbine is a sustained wildflower with many cultivars. Flowers that attract hummingbirds are a charming shape said to look like a jester’s cap. Once planted, columbine is drought-tolerant, making it a right fit for rock garden plants.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Red, white, pink, blue, yellow, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, average, well-draining

Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)

The coneflower is a daisy-like flower that is strong and long-blooming. It is versatile to many thriving conditions, including rocky, sandy, and clay soils. This plant is drought-tolerant, although it needs some moisture in the soil.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: purple, pink 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)

Purple fountain grass is a beautiful grass that is usually produced as an annual edge of its hard zones. It thrives best in full sun but can stand a little shade. Gardeners use this flower both as a standalone individual plant, as well as in groupings for greater impression.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 10
  • Color Varieties: Purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, average, well-draining

Blue Rug Juniper (Juniperus Horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’)

Blue rug juniper is ground covered needled pine known for its green to blue-green leaves. It grows on sunny slopes and prefers quick drainage. The plant can tolerate a mixture of soil types and growing conditions but grows in something that is sandy and on the dry side.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Nonflowering
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed Susan is a daisy-like permanent flower. It thrives best in moist, naturally rich soil but stands most conditions as long as it has excellent drainage. Because it grows in its first season when planted from seed, this plant is often raised as an annual edge of its hard zones.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Color Varieties: Yellow, yellow-orange
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: medium moisture, average, well-draining

Perennial Salvia (Savia spp.)

Most types of perennial salvia favor a sunny spot with excellent drainage. They can stand many soil types and the conditions of a rock garden. As a reward, salvia’s colorful flowers manage to attract many pollinators.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10 
  • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, blue, yellow, green, white
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: dry to medium moisture, average, well-draining

Final Words

These are some of the best plants options for your rock garden. Some add color, while others add a cover to space. Despite the plants that you select, you will want something that grows well in rocky soil and can handle the sun all day. If you find this information useful, drop a comment below this section.

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