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Last updated on January 21st, 2020
Alpines are quite popular plants especially for rockeries in the UK because of their ability to cope with cold winters. They might be able to face cold temperatures, but the one thing they hate is standing in wet soil. So, like so many other plants, you want to ensure your rockery has good drainage in order to help them thrive.
One tip is to grow them in containers that you place in the ground so that you can add lots of drainage holes to the base of the container and drainage-helping material to the bottom. Long term though you’re better simply improving the drainage by adding lot of horticultural grit to the soil.
In fact, if you are growing alpines in your rockery, it is recommended that you go the container route because of some alpines like acidic soil, others alkaline, and you can better control this with different containers but we understand not everyone wants to grow alpines in containers too.
however, there are advantages to growing them in containers. With containers, you can bring them inside a greenhouse or under the eaves of your home if the weather is too bad in winter, especially if it is heavily raining or you love in a particularly wet part of the Uk, but still if you have good draining soil this still shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Adding stones and gravel around them helps to highlight their foliage. So, if you are looking for the top alpines for your rockery, read on for our list of the top 10 rock plants which we recommend starting with.
These plants are known for their hardy, sea pink colours, delightful pink flowers come spring and summer, all nestled nicely atop a cushion of evergreen. What’s particularly nice about these is that you deadhead to encourage additional flowers throughout the entire flowering phase and they are super easy to look after.
2. Dianthus (Garden pinks)
Dianthus is another pink fan favourite known for its pink flowers that are toothed and appear in the summer, there are also many other colours including reds and white. Under the stunning flowers, you will find a mound of green foliage. These plants are nice because they of their subtle scent that comes wafting around when it’s sunny. If you opt to grow these, be sure to cut them back down at the start of Autumn to about 5cm high or they will get too woody. However, at full growth in summer, the rest around 20cm and they do tend to be evergreen which is another bonus.
3. Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Plum’
Called little plum because of its little clusters of star-shaped flowers in shades of pink and apricot. These flowers appear at the start of spring and remain present at the end of the summer. These plants prefer slightly damper soil compared to other alpines. This plant should be planted at an angle of 45 degrees to allow the water to drain naturally from the rosettes of evergreen leaves. This one is slightly smaller, reaching heights around 10cm.
4. Lithodora diffusa ‘Heavenly Blue’
This evergreen forms a mat of foliage and is set against bright blue flowers. Like others though, it flowers in spring and summer. It prefers acidic soil so it might need to be planted in a container and then buried in your trough if you have more than one in the same space. These will reach full heights of 20cm but they can spread prolifically. If grown in containers they do need to be watered more often than most other rockery plants as they hate to be dry but they dislike being stood in water.
5. Phlox subulata ‘McDaniel’s Cushion’
Phlox boast magenta flowers come spring with a mound of green foliage. They prefer sunny areas that are more open. Similar to other alpines though they reach heights around 10cm but will spread and spread if left to there own devices. Phlox are very hardy and there are lots of different varieties and colours too.
6. Saxifraga ‘Winifred Bevington’
For a more slow-growing option, this plant brings with it star-shaped flowers that are pink, nestled above a rich, red stem. The foliage underneath is a bright evergreen and forms a nice round compact mound. You can propagate these easily too if you enjoy your first batch; just remove a rosette of foliage and put it in another pot. At full maturity, they reach about 12cm tall but will spread 5-6 times this.
7. Sedum spathulifolium ‘Purpureum’
As the name suggests, this plant offers purple-tinged leaves, set underneath a collection star-shaped, golden flowers. These golden delights bloom around the middle of summer, slightly later than others on this list, so they make for a great addition to a larger landscape of alpines. At full maturity they reach 10-15cm.
You can find a multitude of varieties for the sempervivum, each with delightful rosettes of leaves. You can propagate these as easily as the Saxifraga, by just removing a rosette and planting it deeply in another container. This works because the roots get formed through the rosette, not the bottom of the stem. A smaller option though, it won’t get taller than 5cm. These grow very well when planted on their sides alongside rock walls.
9. Thymus ‘Silver Posie’
A stunning thyme plant, it grows differently than others of its kind by spreading up, not out. It still has the quintessential, variegated leaves of green and silver throughout the year though, and at full maturity spans 10cm and is also great for cooking. Other spreading varieties of thyme are also worth considering as they are equally easy to grow and at home planted in a rockery.
This is a spreading plant, one that will create a mat of foliage set apart by its blue flowers inside of which are white eyes. They bloom at the start of spring, onward.
So no matter which you choose, or how many, these alpines will help you create a stunning rockery in your garden.
Image credits – Shutterstock.com