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

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

Aster alpinus -- Alpine aster blooms in May and June with dark violet-blue, soft lavender-blue, or rich pink flowers.

Aubrieta 'Whitewell Gem' -- 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.

Delphinium grandiflorum 'Blue Butterfly' -- Dwarf delphinium with ultramarine blue flowers. Short-lived perennial.

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

Dianthus deltoides 'Brilliant', 'Flashing Light' or 'Arctic Fire' -- Spreading mats of red, crimson or white flowers. Perfect for a rockery.

Dianthus pavonius -- Rare perennial that forms a cushion of grasslike foliage topped with large, reddish-pink flowers.

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

Iberis sempervirens -- Low-growing, bushy perennial with evergreen foliage and pure white flowers in early May.

Lavender 'Lady' -- Compact plants with highly fragrant, lavender-blue flowers.

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 heterophyllus -- Vivid, true blue flowers for a long time in summer.

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

Penstemon pinifolius -- Fiery orange-red flowers in summer. The needle-like, evergreen foliage provides year-round interest.

Penstemon 'Sunburst Ruby' -- Bright lipstick-red flowers with white throats. Attracts hummingbirds.

Polemonium boreale 'Heavenly Habit' -- Compact Jacob's Ladder with ferny foliage and lavender-blue flowers.

Saponaria ocymoides (Rock Soapwort) -- Low-growing plants smothered in bright pink flowers in May and June.

Scutellaria resinosa 'Smoky Hills' -- Deep purple-blue flowers tipped with white. Compact, rounded plants that form neat mounds.

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

Viola cornuta 'Bowles Black' -- A small viola with very dark flowers. It self sows nicely in the cracks between rocks and other perennials.

Viola corsica 'Little Gem' -- Perennial pansy with blue-purple flowers. Spreads up to 12" wide, making it a good groundover for a small area.

Related Articles

Container Flower Seeds -- The best annuals and perennials for containers.

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

Shade-Tolerant Flowers -- Annuals and perennials for difficult shady spots.

Other Resources

North American Rock Garden Society


Annual Flower Seeds

Perennial Flower Seeds

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