Rock gardens are great features for breathing life into areas of the garden with shallow or poor soil. Alpines in particular flourish in these spots, as in the wild they grow in rocky, mountainous regions and this can be easily re-created in your garden.
Alpines are an often-underrated group of plants. They are hardy, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. They often have colourful flowers and can be incorporated to brighten up any barren patch. They can also be grown in the cracks and crevices of stone, between paving slabs and in pockets on the top of walls.
So, read on to discover the best plants for your rockery garden.
How to plant alpines
Most alpines can be planted at any time of year, but they become established faster if you plant them in spring or autumn. If you are unsure of the appropriate planting time, check the label or enquire at a garden centre.
Alpines are not usually fussy plants but tend to dislike waterlogged soil.
Take the plant out of its pot and tease out the roots – they naturally grow very long to seek water amongst the rocks. Plant it in the garden, backfill with gritty soil and give it a thorough watering. Remember not to overwater and bear in mind that they may not require watering more than once.
To prevent aggressive spreading, occasionally trim them back after flowering to keep them in check.
Here are my top 10 alpine plants for the rockery:
This is also known as the Pasque flower. It has frilly leaves and hairy stems bearing bell-shaped flowers. It also produces lovely silken seed heads.
This Mediterranean herb is also a decorative plant, producing purple flowers and tiny green leaves. Look for creeping thyme if you want it to spread.
Spring gentian is grown for its striking deep sky-blue star-shaped flowers. It forms a low-growing mat and flowers in late spring and early summer.
Sometimes called houseleeks, these easy-to-please alpine succulents have intricate leaf rosettes. They come in a range of colours but need a spot in full sun to keep their vibrant hue.
Aubrieta is a carpeting plant that produces masses of purple flowers in late spring. It has rough, hairy leaves and can be any tone from pale lilac to deep violet.
Commonly called Spanish Chamomile or Mount Atlas Daisy, this alpine plant has ferny leaves and small white or yellow daisy-like flowers borne on long stems.
The bellflower plant has hundreds of varieties with varying heights, flower sizes and colours. Alpine campanulas have a carpeting habit and produce tonnes of blue, white or purple bell-shaped flowers.
Sedum plants are sometimes called stonecrop and are perfect alpine plants for a rockery. They have succulent leaves and clusters of tiny star-shaped flowers in summer.
Saxifraga forms a mat of growth, making it a great choice for adding greenery to alpine rock gardens. The plants produce beautiful flowers in white, pink, red, yellow and purple.
Alpine varieties of dianthus or pinks flowers are stunning in the rockery. They are heavily scented and have grey or bluish foliage, with flowers in pink, white and purple.