The Q&A Archives: plants for rock gardens

Question: Planning on making a small rock garden in back of my condo. Can you suggest plants and types of rocks for this?

Answer: There are as many types of rock gardens as there are rock gardeners. In a traditional sense, a rock garden would be an imitation of the conditions created by an alpine scree. In a more practical sense, many gardeners have created attractive plantings in areas that are naturally rocky. And in some cases, gardeners are able to use a pile of rocks as the basis for a planting area. Most plants will not grow in a plain pile of rocks, however. You will need to add organic matter and a source of nutrients such as compost, as well as some type of finer material such as gravel or soil, to provide a medium in which the plants may root and grow. You may find that spreading the rocks apart and then partially burying them provides a more "natural" look, or you may find that using them as a retaining wall for a raised bed is in better keeping with the rest of your yard. In either case, you will need to create a good environment for the plants roots, in addition to arranging the rocks.

Here are just a few hardy plants to consider: groundcover -- creeping thyme, creeping phlox, ajuga, and many sedums, laminum, euphorbia Succulents -- non-spreading sedums, sempervivens Flowering plants -- dianthus, achillea, armeria, Alyssum saxatile, hepatica, geum, California poppies, potentilla, tiarella.

Best wishes with your project!

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