24 Stunning Low-Maintenance Rock Garden Plants

Rock gardens are a great way of utilizing any barren rocky corners of your garden and backyard. Sometimes synonymous with an Alpine garden, a rock garden comes to life when you transform the otherwise useless area into a lovely place of kaleidoscopic extravaganza by growing eye-catching rock garden plants.

Rock Garden Plants

List of the Best Low-maintenance Plants for a Rock Garden

All the plants mentioned below are drought-tolerant evergreen perennials

20 Rock Garden Plants You Can Grow in Full Sun to Partial Shade

1. Purple Rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea)

Purple Rockcress Plant

This alpine plant carpets the entire rocky terrain with cute bright pink to purple flowers. The deer-resistant shrub has coarse bushy leaves with shades from dull lavender to intense violet. The plant needs sandy or loamy, well-drained soil.

Flowering season: Late spring and early summer

Sunlight requirements: Full sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 10-22/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

2. Oblongleaf Stonecrop (Sedum oblanceolatum)

Oblongleaf Stonecrop Rock Garden Plant

These succulent deer-tolerant shrubs produce beautiful cream-yellow colored star-shaped blossoms in attractive clusters. The lustrous blue fleshy leaves store water and require dusty to earthy fertile, well-drained soil.

Flowering season: Late summer and early autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 30-60/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

3. Spring Gentian (Gentiana verna)

Spring Gentian Rock Garden Plant

It is one of the rarest shrub found in remote rocky limestone terrains. Flowers are bright turquoise with star-type petals and white centers. Besides, these plants are low growing but significant at groundcovers with its tapered-shaped oblong leaves. Spring gentian requires moist, well-drained sandy to loamy soil.

Flowering season: Mid to late spring and early summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 5-15/5-15

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-7

4. Blue Plantain Lily (Hosta ventricosa)

Blue Plantain Lily Rock Garden Plant

Blue Plantain Lily is a shrub native to rock gardens. It has slender, glossy, and smooth darkish-green colored leaves with alluring tube-type lilac to magenta shaded flowers. The soil requirements of this plant are sandy and loamy, moist organic, well-drained soil.

Flowering season: Late summer to early autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 60-90/60-90

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

5. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

Hens and Chicks Rock Garden Plant

This succulent variety of plant has fleshy leaves and pink to red or yellow star-shaped blooms. The big floral shaped foliages are the Hens, which produce the smaller foliages called Chicks. Soil requirements of this plant are shallow and coarse well-drained soil.

Flowering season: Summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 5-10/5-20

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-11

6. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Creeping Thyme Rock Garden Plant

This plant usually stops the spread of growing weeds and generally used as a filler in between walkways. The scented tiny bunched pinkish blooms, together with shiny bluish-green leaves, acts as a groundcover that changes to a tan color in the fall season. A loamy and sandy, well-drained soil is a must for this plant.

Flowering season: Mid-spring to mid-summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 5-7/25-30

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

7. Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Snow-in-Summer Plant

This slow-growing and short-term deer-resistant shrub have star-shaped pure white flowers acting as flowering groundcover for the rock garden, just like a perfect snowfall. It thrives well in sandy to clay type well-drainage soil.

Flowering season: Early summer and end spring

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 15-30/15-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

8. Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Creeping Phlox Rock Garden Plant

They are most vibrant mat-forming plants producing aromatic flowers having a broad spectrum of colors ranging right from pink to white and red to attractive bluish-violets. The soil requirements are typically sandy and loamy soil with proper drainage.

Flowering season: Mid to spring end

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 10-15/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

9. Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Pasque Flower

These beautiful plants display colorful flowers in hues of violets and blues upon their yellowish stamens. Just like sunflowers, then open up to face the sun. Native to England, France, and Ukraine, they are excellent in carpeting the entire rugged courtyard. A mixture of sandy and loamy, well-drained soil is essential for this plant.

Flowering season: Spring

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 15-30/20-30

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8

10.  English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

English Lavender Rock Garden Plant

Sometimes known as True or Purple Lavender, they bloom with enticing colors of lavender, white, pink, purple, and even bluish-violet. The complete flower color originates from the petal and is sweetly scented. A dry to sandy, well-drainage soil is necessary for the plant’s growth.

Flowering season: Late spring to early summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 50-60/50-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

11. Spike Speedwell  (Veronica spicata)

Spike Speedwell Rock Garden Plant

They are low-caring landscape shrubs with tapered long spiky stems blooming mini star-type flowers in dazzling purplish-blue color. Besides, the leaves are harpoon-shaped about 2 inches in length. The required soil composition is loamy and sandy moist well-drainage soil. Butterflies are attracted in numbers with their intensely perfumed blooms.

Flowering season: Late spring to early summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 20-30/ 30-45

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

12.  European Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)

European Columbine Rock Garden Plant

Known otherwise as common columbine, and granny’s nightcap, it is an enchanting thin bell-type plant blossoming in shades of violet to pink and white. There are more than 70 species available, which lures tiny hummingbirds with their extreme fragrance. They love to be in loamy and sandy, well-drained moist soil.

Flowering season: Late-spring to mid-summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 30-90/ 15-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

13. Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Eastern Purple Coneflower

Also known as purple coneflower, these long-flowering plants have big daisy type flowers. Attractive petals in colors from purple to pink-rose encircle an orangish-brown colored central cone. They loved to be in average to sandy well-drained soil, and have high concentrations of honey, attracting bees and butterflies.

Flowering season: Mid-to-late summer, and early-to-mid autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 75-120/ 45-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

14. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed Susan

These big and durable daisy-type flowers are budding with stunning intense yellowish-orange petals with a dusky brownish center showcasing a vibrant show across the rocky backyard. The soil requirement is loamy and clay well-drainage moist soil. Furthermore, they are also highly deer-resistant plants.

Flowering season: Mid to end-summer and also in autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 30-90/ 30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

15. Six Hills Giant Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii ‘6 Hills Giant’)

Six Hills Giant Catmint

Catmints are a deer-resistant plant of the mint genre producing scented lavender to blue and pink to white-colored flowers. These rock garden groundcover flowers are used as a tranquilizer. The soil composition required for this plant is dry clay soil with a compost-rich well-drainage.

Flowering season: End spring to early summer; end summer to early autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 60-90/ 30-45

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

16. Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)

Lamb's Ear Plant

These carpeting shrubs with flossy leaves generate flowers on high spear-like structures. The plant’s blossoms with a rich pinkish-violet color huddle together in lovely clusters. Lamb’s Ear requires a well-drained sandy to clay type of soil.

Flowering season: Late spring to early summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 15-60/ 30-90

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10

17. Himalayan Saxifrage (Saxifraga parnassifolia)

Himalayan Saxifrage

Local to subarctic temperatures and alpine heights, the plant bloom flowers in colors of bright yellow in their attractive bulging clusters. The stem of this shrub is hairy and erect, while the leaves elliptical and spacious. This herb requires a moist well-drainage sandy type of soil.

Flowering season: End-summer to mid-autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 10-30/15-30

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-10

18. Coral Bells (Heuchera americana)

Coral Bells

These evergreens fall within the plant’s  hardiness zone of 5 and 8. It has small pricked flower stalks about 45 cms high with cherry to pink and white toned chocolate scented blooms fascinating hummingbirds. The perfect  soil requirement is a manure-rich well-drainage dry to clay type of soil.

Flowering season: End-spring to early and end-summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 25-51/ 36-41

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

19. Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)

Carnation

These are native to Eurasia, popularly cultured since the last 2000 years and are also known as clove pink. This shrub has flowerets with multihued attractions from pink to crimson, and white growing at a slow rate. Carnation requires a well-drained fertile sandy to loamy kind of soil.

Flowering season: Mid-summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 30-90/ 3-5

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

20. Peach-leaved Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia)

Peach-leaved Bellflower

These flowers are generally treated as ornamental garden plants, as they showcase colorful flowers in colors from pink to lilac, to blues and whites. Besides, the blossoms have unique shapes like star-shaped, bell-shaped, dish-shaped, or cylindrical. They prefer a moist, well-drained sandy to loamy soil.

Flowering season: Early to mid-summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun to semi-shade

Height/Width (cm): 45-90/30-45

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

4 Plants for Rock Gardens that Grow in Full Sun

1. Mount Atlas Daisy (Anacyclus pyrethrum)

Mount Atlas Daisy

These plants feature small stems of milky white daisies with a yellow center. Also known as Silver Kisses, though, they cannot survive in shades. They require a well-drainage moist sandy to a loamy type of soil.

Flowering season: Mid to late spring to early summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun

Height/Width (cm): 20-25/15-20

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

2. Douglas Moss Phlox (Phlox douglasii ‘Lilac Cloud’)

Douglas Moss Phlox

These perfect groundcover plants have  evergreen deep green or red-toned leaves turning crimson in winter. Their blossoms are in a variety of tones right from dark pink to red, and lilac to blue. They require a well-drained rocky to sandy kind of soil.

Flowering season: Mid-spring to early and end-summer

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun

Height/Width (cm): 5-10/ 25-30

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-9

3. Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)

Yellow Alyssum

Yellow alyssum is the most popular variety of rock garden plants with bright small yellow flowers bloom in clusters. These deer-resistant plants are difficult to grow in cold and shaded areas. For proper growth, they prefer dry and sandy, well-drained soil.

Flowering season: Early summer to mid-late spring

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun

Height/Width (cm): 20-30/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

4. Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)

Ice Plant

The dazzling deep purple to pink flowers of this Ice plant carpets the entire rocky courtyard. It grows well in sandy, well-drained soil. Moreover, it got its name from the flickering display of the refracting leaves, which seems like tiny ice crystals under the sunlight.

Flowering season: Early summer to autumn

Sunlight requirements: Full Sun

Height/Width (cm): 7-15/30-60

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

All these plants can grow quite well with minimum watering (once or twice a week based on what plant you have), but their care needs and growth rate do depend on their surrounding environment. The charm of a carefully planned rugged topography always depends on the harmonious effect of these exclusive plants and rock placed together.

by | Updated : November 23, 2019



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