Rock Garden Perennials - Diane's Flower Seeds
Rock Garden Seeds


Rock Garden Perennials
by Diane Linsley

What are the best rock garden perennials from seed?

At my old house, I had rock gardens all over the place. Whenever I needed a rock for landscaping, all I had to do was dig a hole, and I was guaranteed to find one (or more). You might say that rock gardening was my specialty.

Things are different at this house. When I need rocks, I have to buy them. It's nice to have deep soil, but sometimes I miss my rock gardens.

Rock Gardening Ideas

Most rock gardens are raised beds with the soil mounded up, interspersed with attractively-placed rocks. The soil can vary from sand to clay, but it usually has good drainage. For these conditions, choose drought-tolerant perennials.

If you don't have the right conditions in the garden, you can create a miniature rock garden in a container. I make cement planters for tiny rock garden plants, which are frequently overlooked or shaded out in the large gardens.

Sun-loving rock garden plants thrive along the edge of the driveway. Most other plants hate the hot, dry conditions in this area.

Most rock gardens are sited in full sun, but some are located in part shade. My list includes plants for both areas. Click here for shade-tolerant flowers.

People usually think "small" when they think of rock gardens. So I limited my list of rock garden perennials to those with short to medium height. I left out anything that self sows too vigorously. You don't want your little rock garden gems to get crowded out!

Rock Garden Perennials from Seed

Aethionema schistosum -- Drought-tolerant perennial with fragrant, pale pink flowers. Rare plant for the rock garden.

Alyssum montanum 'Mountain Gold' -- Bright yellow flowers in early spring. Easy to grow from seed. Drought-tolerant.

Aquilegia alpina -- Deep violet-blue flowers on compact plants in late spring.

Aquilegia canadensis 'Little Lanterns' -- Dwarf selection of Eastern columbine. Perfect for the rock garden.

Aquilegia 'Clementine Red' -- Reddish-pink, upward-facing flowers. Compact.

Aquilegia flabellata 'Ministar' -- Dwarf columbine with large, blue and white flowers. Terrific little perennial for rockeries.

Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila 'Kurilensis Rosea' -- Rare, dwarf columbine.

Aubrieta deltoidea -- Rock Cress. Spreading mounds of violet-purple flowers in spring. Easy to grow from seed.

Campanula carpatica -- Lavender-blue, cup-shaped flowers on compact plants for the rock garden.

Campanula rotundifolia -- Violet-blue, bell-shaped flowers on spreading plants.

Dianthus arenarius -- Fragrant, pure white, fringed flowers on mounding plants. Drought-tolerant perennial. Easy to grow from seed.

Dianthus deltoides 'Flashing Lights' -- Spreading mats of crimson-red flowers. Stunning color. Perfect for a rockery.

Dianthus pinifolius -- Small mounds of grass-like leaves. Crimson-red flowers. Rare perennial for the rock garden.

Digitalis obscura -- Sunset-red and gold flowers with red veins and spots. Surprisingly drought tolerant for a digitalis species.

Dracocephalum tanguticum -- Rare perennial with deep blue, hooded flowers for a partly shaded rock garden.

Lychnis viscaria 'Feuer' -- Brilliant, reddish-pink flowers in a neat clump.

Oenothera missouriensis -- Native perennial with lemon-yellow flowers. Nice in a large rock garden.

Penstemon angustifolius -- Small penstemon species with lavender-blue flowers. Nice in a small rock garden or containers.

Penstemon hirsutus -- Lavender and white flowers. Drought-tolerant perennial.

Penstemon paysoniorum -- Rare perennial for the rock garden. Lavender-blue flowers on a compact plant.

Pulsatilla vulgaris -- Violet-purple flowers in spring. Nice foliage & seed heads.

Thymus serpyllum -- Creeping Thyme. Excellent for planting between paving stones or large rocks. Fills in all the cracks. Drought-tolerant.


Related Articles

Container Garden Design -- Create eye-catching container gardens.

Drought-Tolerant Flowers -- Save water and still have a beautiful garden.

Shade-Tolerant Flowers -- Perennials and annuals for difficult shady spots.


Other Resources

North American Rock Garden Society


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Aubrieta deltoidea Rock Cress