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Rock gardens are an interesting alternative to the classic, European garden concepts and can be attractively implemented with a little work and artistic ideas. The right rock garden plants, which do not have to hide from other plants with their variety of flowers, are important for this type of garden. The number of plant species ranges from perennial succulents to annual flowers, which make the heart smile with their colorful splendor.

rock garden plants

40 species of annual and perennial rock garden plants

The rock garden plants are a world of their own. Because of their properties, they are well suited for a garden that does not consist exclusively of fresh grass, moist soil or vegetable beds. This type of garden radiates its very own charm and inspires with the design options that arise here. Whether it's a Japanese-inspired meditation garden, an alpine oasis for relaxation or a Mediterranean garden with a stream, the plants provide the special character.

Typical properties of plants and rock gardens are:

  • resistant to drought
  • come from either alpine or arid areas
  • grow best on a gentle slope
  • prefer south or south-west location
  • Light requirement is usually high
  • stones, gravel or gravel are required for the gardens
  • some species are even quite thirsty
Rock garden with rock garden plants

Another feature are the colors of the rock gardens, as these are often presented in darker shades that immediately catch the eye in the grey, stony surroundings. An advantage of the plants is the possibility to set them either in groups or solitary. Because the rocks can be placed either naturally or artistically, the location of each rock garden plant is important to the overall look. The individual species differ mainly in their life cycle, which you can include in the project depending on your personal taste. The list below for annuals and perennials will help here.

Annual rock garden plants

Even though many of the plants can withstand drought and warm temperatures, there are some specimens that are neither hardy nor persistent over several years. Annual rock garden plants will delight you for a period of time and will need to be replanted or seeded the following year. Compared to perennials, annual rock garden plants are clearly outnumbered in the local latitudes.

Plants from F to S

Rock Alyssum (bot. Aurinia saxatilis)

  • the annual alyssum is a classic of every rock garden
  • it seduces with its golden yellow flowers and bushy growth
Rock Alyssum, Alyssum saxatile

lilac primrose (Primula malacoides)

  • in itself, this is a perennial plant, but in Germany it can only be cultivated outdoors once a year
  • the flowers are held in a romantic pink
Lilac primrose, Primula malacoides

Candytuft (bot. Iberis umbellata)

  • this belongs to the large genus of candytufts and often has a variety of colors that develop appealingly
  • the growth of the flowers is characteristic of the genus
Candytuft, Iberis umbellata

Summer Adonis (bot. Adonis aestivalis)

  • a beautiful annual summer flower
  • bright leafy green sets the stage for a deep red and black center bloom
Summer Adonis, Adonis aestivalis

Summer azalea (bot. Clarkia amoena)

  • this also blooms over the summer and inspires with the flowers, which resemble azaleas, in different colors
  • With good care, they can reach heights of up to 90 cm
Summer Azalea, Clarkia amoena

Summer carnations (bot. Dianthus chinensis)

  • reach an average height of 20 cm to 30 cm and have a lovely aroma
  • they shine in reddish, pink or white tones from June to September
Summer carnations, Dianthus chinensis

Perennial rock garden plants

If you want to enjoy your rock garden for a long time, you should choose perennial rock garden plants from the list below. These are either only perennial, hardy or even evergreen, which of course presents itself as a special accent in winter. Since the German and Central European climate is often still too humid or cool for rock gardens, the use of alpine plants and those from the Mediterranean region is particularly suitable.

Plants from A to E

Alpine balm (bot. Erinus alpinus)

  • this plant thrives in loose, rocky lawns and features attractive reddish-purple or white flowers that also contrast with the foliage
Alpine balm, Erinus alpinus

Alpine gentian (bot. Gentiana acaulis)

  • With a size of only 8 cm, the alpine gentian has a deep blue color that integrates perfectly into the alpine flora
  • especially in summer, the plant inspires with its beauty
Alpine gentian, Gentiana acaulis

Cyclamen Narcissus (bot. Narcissus cyclamineus)

  • a daffodil that everyone would like to have in their garden
  • the radiant yellow is a special contrast to the gray of the stones
Cyclamen Daffodil, Narcissus cyclamineus

Balloon flower (bot. Platycodon grandiflorum)

  • With three to six inflorescences, the balloon flower is one of the most striking plants
  • the large flowers with a diameter of up to 7 cm make them a highlight in the rock garden
Balloon flower, Platycodon grandiflorus

Blue fescue (bot. Festuca glauca)

  • another species of fescue that is an intense blue
  • the ornamental grass turns even bluer with the barrenness of the soil
Blue fescue, Festuca glauca

Bronze knotweed (bot. Polygonium affine)

  • This ground cover presents an alternative to the typical garden concepts, because it only grows to a height of 25 cm, but the white flowers are literally in a sea of leaves
Bronze knotweed, Polygonium affine

Edelweiss (bot. Leontopodium alpinum)

  • Edelweiss is the eternal classic of every alpine-inspired rock garden
  • their color and thick hair are characteristic, but the symbolic value of the plant is even more important
Edelweiss, Leontopodium alpinum

Plants from F to H

Cotoneaster horizontalis (bot. Cotoneaster horizontalis)

  • the most important characteristics of this cotoneaster are the height of 50 cm, the red fruits and the effect as a bee pasture
Fan cotoneaster, Cotoneaster horizontalis

French fringe (bot. Dianthus montspessulanus)

  • the ragged flowers are unique to the carnation family
  • a sight worth seeing
  • the plant has prickly cushions
French fringe, Dianthus montspessulanus

Garden blue cushion (bot. Aubrieta cultorum)

  • the name describes the perennial garden blue cushion very well, as it is a groundcover that grows wide and covers the ground like a cushion
Bluecushion, Aubrieta

Common broom (bot. Genista sagittalis)

  • Genista sagittalis is an enchanting dwarf shrub with a maximum height of 30 cm and attractive, yellow flowers with a unique shape
Winged broom, Genista sagittalis

Cat's Paw (bot. Antennaria dioica)

  • the distinguishing feature is the flowers, which are reminiscent of paws and stand out far from the leaves
Common cat's paw, Antennaria dioica

Pasqueflower (bot. Pulsatilla vulgaris)

  • the common pasque flower, also common pasque flower, is one of the "stars" among the garden stone plants
  • until a few decades ago, the species of the genus were not often seen, but with the advent of rock gardens, this has become standard
Pasque flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris

Gladiolus communis (bot. Gladiolus communis)

  • With its two subspecies and spiked inflorescences, the igloo belongs in every romantic rock garden
Common gladiolus, Gladiolus communis

Golden Leek (bot. Allium moly)

  • the golden leek, on the other hand, forms golden yellow flowers that bloom for a comparatively long time and thus provide a special aspect in the rock garden
Gold Leek, Allium moly

Grassy Tufted Bell (bot. Edraianthus graminifolius)

  • Despite its small size, the Tufted Bell has large blue-violet flowers that stand out clearly from the foliage
Grassy Tufted Bell, Edraianthus graminifolius

Gray cranesbill (bot. Geranium cinereum)

  • despite the name, the flowers of the gray cranesbill are a light pink with purple hues and dark veins
  • this color combination makes them appear greyish
Gray cranesbill, Geranium cinereum

Greek prickly fescue (bot. Festuca punctoria)

  • it is a cushion-shaped, clump-forming plant that can be planted as an ornamental grass in a solitary position
Blue fescue, Festuca cinerea

Stonecrop (bot. Sedum telephium)

  • also a classic among rock garden plants
  • this grows upright up to 50 cm and has several subspecies in different colors and growth forms
Sedum telephium Xenox, Tall Stonecrop

Houseleek (bot. Sempervivum tectorum)

  • Houseleek is a succulent that is a welcome guest in the rock garden due to its special growth habit
  • the fairly large rosettes are typical of the plant
Large-flowered houseleek, Sempervivum grandiflorum

Sky blue grape hyacinth (bot. Muscari azureum)

  • also known as mock hyacinth
  • the sky blue shows itself intensely in the racemose inflorescences
Grape hyacinths, muscari

Plants from K to P

Lesser periwinkle (bot. Vinca minor)

  • with the small periwinkle there is another classic among the rock garden plants, which is as poisonous as it is beautiful
Lesser periwinkle, maidenwort, vinca minor

Lovage (bot. Levisticum officinale)

  • who does not know him, the lovage
  • With a size of 250 cm, the striking inflorescences and the "Maggi" smell, it is one of the most characteristic rock garden plants
Lovage, Levisticum officinale

Ice plant (bot. Delosperma aberdeenense)

  • in itself a perennial plant, but is not very frost-resistant and must therefore be protected over the winter
  • the flowers are particularly beautiful to look at
Ice plant, Delosperma aberdeenense

Pyrenean rock plate (bot. Ramonda myconi)

  • this plant prefers limestone and, with good care, presents its filigree, violet flowers above a sea of deep green leaves
Pyrenean rock plate, Ramonda myconi

Plants from R to W

Red vetch (bot. Anthyllis vulneraria ssp. coccinea)

  • a flower shape that the flower lover must see
  • In addition, kidney vetch is a gathering point for numerous bees
Red vetch, Anthyllis vulneraria

Waterlily Tulip (bot. Tulipa kaufmanniana)

  • one of the numerous tulips suitable for rock gardens
  • they can grow up to 45 cm high
Waterlily Tulip, Tulipa kaufmanniana

Catchfly (bot. Silene acaulis)

  • grows as a small, maximum 3 cm high cushion that just looks lovely in the garden
  • the flowers vary in color
Stemless catchfly, Silene acaulis

Stone carnation (bot. Dianthus deltoides)

  • one of the most beautiful types of carnations and rigorously protected according to the BArtSchV
  • nevertheless, it is a special eye-catcher in the garden, which shows itself in all its splendor during the flowering period from June to September

Star ball leek (bot. Allium christophii)

  • even leek plants are suitable for rock gardens
  • the name derives from the star-shaped flowers that stand together in a ball
Star ball leek, Allium cristophii

Ostrich daffodil (bot. Narcissus tazetta)

  • another daffodil that is distinguished from other daffodils by its numerous flowers on a single stem
  • these are kept in a soft white with a yellow secondary crown
Ostrich Narcissus, Narcissus tazetta

Carpet phlox (bot. Phlox subulata)

  • many flowers laid out like in a carpet make up this phlox
  • the perennial from the USA grows strongly in width
Cushion phlox, carpet phlox, Phlox subulata

spurge (bot. Euphorbia myrsinites)

  • the name of this milkweed refers to the shape of the branches, reminiscent of rollers
  • the flowers are not necessarily conspicuous, but fit picturesquely into any rock garden
Rolling Spurge, Euphorbia myrsinites

Vineyard Tulip (bot. Tulipa sylvestris)

  • this type of tulip is a rock garden plant that likes to grow near vines
  • its yellow color makes it one of the most beautiful tulips
Vineyard Tulip, Tulipa sylvestris

Tip: You can also beautify your rock garden with herbs. Creeping thyme (bot. Thymus praecox ssp. Articus), aromatic lavender (bot. Lavandula angustifolia) and soothing sage (bot. Salvia officinalis) are particularly good for this.

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