By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
One big clue when searching for full sun rockery plants is the names “rock” or “alpine” in the label. Think rock cress, yellow alpine alyssum, or rock cotoneaster. However, there are scores of plants for the full sun rock garden in a variety of colors and sizes. The trick is to pick rockery plants that like sun, as some are mountain denizens who prefer cooler, low light situations.
About Full Sun Rockery Plants
A rockery is a great feature that adds dimension to the garden. It is also a space for low moisture plants and can be a bouquet of color and texture. In full sun situations, you need to select plants that are tolerant of drought and high heat. A rock garden with full sun needs species that are tolerant of such punishing conditions.
One great way to ensure your plant selections have the necessary toughness is to use native plants. They are used to the conditions of the region and have adapted to harsh situations. You can check with your local extension office for advice on what to buy or head to a nursery that specializes in the native plants of your area. Make sure the plants you choose are hardy to your region. Not all full sun rockery plants can tolerate cold temperatures.
Full sun plants for a rock garden will not only experience blazing temperatures but may also encounter snow and icy conditions in winter. Take time to prepare the soil around the rock so plants can reap nutrients and soil will hold some moisture while also remaining freely draining.
Rockery Plants That Like Sun
You really can’t go wrong with succulents in full sun situations.
- Ice plant is a semi-hardy plant that will spread out appealingly and also produces brightly colored starry flowers.
- Sempervivum and sedum have a variety of species available, most of which are suitable for most zones and come in a host of forms.
- Prickly pear cactus lends some dimension to the rockery with ease of care once established.
- Euphorbia (spurge) is another tried and true perennial that decorates rockeries. Several colors and forms are suitable.
Many grasses, especially the smaller perennial types, can be used in a rockery. They are low maintenance and most have superior drought tolerance. Blue fescue works great in such situations, as does purple fountain grass.
Herbs are also very tolerant of high heat and sun. Thyme is a classic that comes in clumping and creeping varieties. One of the hallmarks of spring rockeries are plants that cascade and bloom. Among these some good choices are:
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