The Q&A Archives: Poor Drainage, Shallow Roots

Question: I have a long, narrow area which has about 2 - 3 inches of topsoil on top of pure rock beds. Can you make any recommendations for a flowering perennial for this area? (There is room to build up the soil base somewhat, but probably only 1" or so.)

Answer: If the site is sunny, you might try rockcress (Arabis), or one of the stonecrops (Sedum). Once established they take little water, and seem to be happy in poor soil. I've had good luck with sages, and Gaillardia under similar circumstances. You may even want to try one of the dwarf Lewisia's. They require excellent drainage, and I've found their root systems to be quite small.

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