In a stylish rock garden, the top priority is loosened, as if by chance, planting. This specification invites you to playfully design the planting plan. The focus is on a creative mixture of woody plants, grasses and perennials. Different heights are just as desirable as airy silhouettes and compact consistencies. As divergent as the habitus may be, what all plants have in common is that they master such a barren, dry and sunny location. Although this requirement noticeably restricts the range of plants, it still leaves a whole range of perspectives open. In the following, you will get to know the ideal plants for the rock garden, gravel garden and gravel bed.

Evergreen dwarf trees form the basic structure

They represent an indispensable part of the rock garden. Evergreen trees form the basic structure and ensure that there is no dreariness even in winter. The larger the area, the higher individual plants can stretch up into the air without immediately assuming a leading role:

Evergreen trees up to 250 cm tall.
In the large rock garden, they serve as green sculptures that serve as a decorative haven of calm for the wandering eye of the beholder. They reliably perform this task all year round, even during the cold season. Covered with hoarfrost and snow, they transform into a magical appearance in the gravel garden, which prevents winter melancholy from arising in the first place. The following woody plants impress with their undemanding frugality and high resistance to drought. Every now and then a little water and a portion of compost ensure an adequate supply of water and nutrients. As a central care component, a regular cut is particularly important.

  • Berglorbeer (Kalmia latofolia)
  • Blue cone Moss moss (Juniperus chinensis ‘Stricta’)
  • Yellow shrub juniper (Juniperus media ‘Old Gold’)
  • Glanzmispel (Photinia fraseri ‚Red Robin‘)
  • Kirschlorbeer (Prunus laurocerasus)
  • Little blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’)
  • Krummholz-Kiefer (Pinus mugo mughus)
  • Muschelzypresse (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’)
  • Column juniper ‘BLUE ARROW’ (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’)
  • Dwarf Colorado fir (Abies concolor ‘Compacta’)

Flat-growing, evergreen woody plants up to 50 cm
high. With their low habit, the following evergreen woody plants mark a balanced transition between tall rock garden plants and ground cover. Abrupt breaks in the arrangement are avoided in favor of flowing changes. Those who are familiar with caring for tall trees will also be able to master this plant category.

  • Bergkiefer ‚Varella’ (Pinus mugo ‚Varella’)
  • Blauer Zwergwacholder (Juniperus squamata ‚Blue Star‘)
  • Boxwood (Buxus microphylla ‘Faulkner’)
  • Japanese juniper (Microbiota decussata)
  • Hinoki-Scheinzypresse (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’)
  • Rosemary Daphne (Daphne cneorum)
  • Seidenkiefer (Pinus strobus ‚Macopin‘)
  • Carpet Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Andorra Compact’)
  • Dwarf pine ‘Mops’ (Pinus mugo ‘Mops’)
  • Dwarf black pine (Pinus nigra ‘Globosa’)

Semi-shrubs up to 100 cm in height

In order to perfectly simulate an alpine landscape in a rock garden or gravel bed, subshrubs should not be missing. In the wild, the following species and varieties in particular catch the hiker’s eye. They are therefore indispensable as a natural design component. With their blossom they also create a wonderful contrast to the stones. Most of the specimens also give off a light fragrance. They attract hordes of butterflies and bees. As with the evergreen trees, the maintenance effort is manageable. The focus here is also on a regular shape and maintenance cut.

  • Doctor Berberis (Berberis stenophylla)
  • However Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Edelginster ‘Boskop’ (Cytisus scoparius ‘Boskoop Ruby’)
  • Elfenbeinginster ‚Allgold‘ (Cytisus praecox ‚Allgold)
  • Feuerdorn (Pyracantha coccinea ‚Soleil d’Or‘)
  • Evergreen tongue viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum)
  • Irish Pillar Guardian (Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’)
  • Liebesperlenstrauch (Callicarpa bodinieri ‚Profusion‘)
  • Palmlilie (Yucca filamentosa)
  • Polster-Berberitze (Berberis buxifolia Nana)
  • Schmetterlingsstrauch (Buddleia davidii)
  • White pagoda dogwood (Cornus controversa variegata)
  • Dwarf Rhododendron (Rhododendron ludlowii ‘Wren’)
  • Dwarf spar (Spierea japonica)

Adorable tall trunks

Sun-compatible tall trunks are ideal for rock gardens with limited space. At the same time, their decorative silhouette speaks for representative cultivation in stone troughs or clay pots. In this way, sun-hungry plants move into the gravel garden, which at the same time demand a more humus-rich, richer substrate than the garden soil has to offer. Those who find it too time-consuming to grow a shrub into a standard trunk will quickly find what they are looking for in qualified specialist shops.

  • Edelginster (Cytisus scoparius ‚Burkwoodii‘)
  • Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi ‘Diana’)
  • Magnolie ‚Susan‘ (Magnolia liliiflora ‚Susan‘)
  • Roter Perückenstrauch (Cotinus coggygria ‚Royal Purple‘)
  • Rotblättrige Fasanenspiere (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’)
  • Dwarf Bloodfly (Prunus cistena)

Early flowering perennials

If a blanket of snow is still spreading in the gravel bed or rock garden, the particularly early varieties are already peeping out. Early flowering perennials also promise the start of the cheerful, colorful season in the gravel garden. In addition, these perennials are recommended as beautiful planting in stone pots.

  • Alpine aster (Aster alpinus ‘Dark Beauty’)
  • Astlose Graslilie (Anthericum liliago)
  • Bergsandkraut (Arenaria montana)
  • Bitterwurz (Lewisia cotyledon ‚Regenbogen‘)
  • Flockenblume (Centaurea montana)
  • Grasnelke (Armeria maritima ‘Vesuvius’)
  • Islandmohn (Papaver nudicaule ‚Spring Fever Red‘)
  • Japanese Azalea (Rhododendron obtusum ‘Canzonetta’)
  • Candytuft ‘White Dwarf’ (Iberis sempervirens ‘White Dwarf’)
  • Rock garden speedwell (Veronica prostrata)
  • Dwarf Iris (Iris barbata nana ‘Cyanea’)

Perennials that bloom in summer
You benefit from a very special property of the rock garden. Since the following perennials are all extremely warmth-loving, they benefit at night from the stored heat that stones give off again. This fact has a remarkably beneficial effect on the joy of growth and abundance of flowers. This creates small islands of opulence, even during hot midsummer periods. Thanks to the stone soil layer, the heat of the day does not get to the roots, which can develop splendidly in a pleasant coolness.

  • Färberkamille (Anthemis tinctoria)
  • Felsnelke (Petrorhagia saxifraga)
  • Cinquefoil yellow (Potentilla aurea)
  • Goldleinkraut (flavored flax
  • Greek silver shearling (Achillea umbellata)
  • Holy flower (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
  • Silberdistel (Carlina acaulis)
  • Spinnwebenhauswurz (Sempervivum arachnoideum)
  • Carpet bluebell blue (Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Birch’)
  • Dwarf bellflower (Campanula cochleariifolia ‘White Baby’)
  • Dwarf pecker (Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina’)

Late blooming perennials When summer is drawing to a close, the following perennials with their splendid colors prevent the pain of saying goodbye to the beautiful season. With suitable weather conditions, they bloom well into autumn and thus initiate a seamless transition to winter.

  • Bleiwurz (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)
  • Blatter Dost (Origanum laevigatum ‚Herrenhausen‘)
  • Edelraute (Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’)
  • Fettblatt (Sedum floriferum ‚Weihenstephaner Gold‘)
  • Fetthenne Carl’ (Sedum spectabile Carl’)
  • Heidegünsel (Origanum vulgare Compactum’)
  • Kamschatka Fettblatt (Sedum kamtschaticum)
  • Ochsenauge (Buphtalmum salicifolium ‚Alpengold)
  • Scabiose (Scabiosa columbaria ‚Butterfly Blue‘)
  • Sommer-Enzian (Gentiana septemfida var. Lagodechiana)

Tireless bloomers

Perennials with a particularly long flowering time are enjoying increasing popularity. Suitable species and varieties for the classic perennial bed can be found in abundance in every garden center. But what is the selection for the rock garden, gravel garden and gravel bed? Be amazed at the astonishing variety of tireless blooming flowers, which unfold their beauty even in poor soil under blazing sun from spring to autumn.

  • Perennial hollyhock (Alcea hybrid ‘Parkallee’)
  • Graue Färberkamille (Anthemis tinctoria ‚Susanna Mitchell‘)
  • Kleinblütige Bergminze (Calamintha nepeta ‚Blue Cloud‘) – Steinquendel
  • Scented nettle (Agastache hybrid ‘Linda’)
  • Dark blue nettle (Agastache rugosa hybrid ‘Black Adder’)
  • Filled celandine (Chelidonium majus ‘Pleniflorus’)
  • Little heron beak (Erodium hybrid ‘Almodovar’)
  • Little purple scabious (Knautia macedonica ‘Mars Midget’)
  • Purpur Leinkraut (Linaria purpurea)
  • Whorled sage (Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’)
  • Steppe sage (Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’)
  • Storchschnabel (Geranium Sanguineum-Hybride ‚Tiny Monster‘)
  • Violetter Schöterich (Erysimum Hybride ‚Bowles Mauve‘)

Decorative grass

With grasses, lightness moves into the rock garden, which would otherwise be overwhelmed by the force of the material. Whether as a solitary plant or in a harmonious neighborhood with shrubs and trees, the robust grasses know how to put themselves in the limelight in a decorative way. When it comes to the selection, a little sensitivity is required. In the small-area gravel bed, a mighty Chinese reed might be out of place, while it really comes into its own in association with a stately menhir.

  • Blauer Strandhafer (Ammophila breviligulata)
  • Blauschwingel (Festuca cinerea)
  • Chinaschilf (Miscanthus sinensis)
  • Lesser trembling grass (Briza minor)
  • Lampenputzergras (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
  • Pfeifengras (Molinia caerulea)
  • Präriegras (Andropogon scoparius ‚Cairo‘)
  • Heron feather grass (Stipa pulcherrima)
  • Sheep fescue (Festuca ovina)
  • Schillergras (Koeleria glauca)

Drought-loving fern species

Although the vast majority of all ferns thrive in partially shaded to shady and moist locations, a few representatives have proven to be quite sun-tolerant. If you don’t want to miss out on the calming charisma of these lush archetypes, you should consider these specimens:

  • Brown-stalked striped fern (Asplenium trichomanes)
  • Mauerraute (Asplenium ruta-muraria)
  • Anthrax (Asplenium ceterach)
  • Rib fern (Blechnum spicant)
  • Ruprechtsfarn (Gymnocarpium robertianum)
  • Tüpfelfarn (Delosperma congestum ‚Golden Nugget‘)

Blooming ground cover

A garden with stone elements cannot do without flowering ground cover. They bring colorful abundance to the beds without wanting to push themselves into the foreground. Species and varieties that can cope with drought stress and blazing sunlight are particularly suitable.

  • Alpine edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum)
  • Blaukissen ‘Blaumeise’ (Aubrieta ‘Blaumeise’)
  • Yellow Goose Circles (Arabis ferdinandi-coburgii ‘Old Gold’)
  • Himalayan Schleierkraut (Gypsophila cerastioides)
  • Hornkraut (Cerastium tomentosum)
  • Kissenginster (Cytisus decumbens)
  • Barbed nuts (Acaena microphylla ‘copper carpet’)
  • Carpet bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)
  • Teppichsedum Tricolor (Sedum spurium Tricolor’)
  • Roller wolf milk (Euphorbia myrsinites)

Perennials for stone joints

They are the survivors among the plants for the rock garden, the gravel garden and the gravel bed. Wherever there are joints, they are used in order to seal them permanently and at the same time decoratively. It is important to note that there is a gapless earth connection, if possible to behind the stones or the wall.

  • Garden auricle (Primula x pubescens)
  • Himalayan male shield (Androsace sarmentosa)
  • Carpathian Foam Cress (Arabis procurrens)
  • Mauer Zimbelkraut (Cymbalaria muralis)
  • Midday flowers (Delosperma congestum ‘Golden Nugget’)
  • Silver feather upholstery (Campanula cochleariifolia ‘Bavaria Blue’)
  • Steinquendel (Calamintha nepeta Triumphator’)
  • Tripmadam (Sedum reflexum ‘Elegans’)
  • Dwarf mountain savory (Satureja montana ssp.illyrica)
  • Dwarf bellflower (Campanula cochleariifolia ‘Bavaria Blue’)

Bulb and tuberous plants

The undemanding, perennial perennials are ideal candidates for group planting. As if by chance, they gather on stone surfaces and effectively prevent boredom. Thanks to the bulbs and tubers, they build up their own food reserves in the soil, so they don’t expect much attention.

  • Damen-Tulpe (Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha ‚Tubergen’s Gem‘)
  • Fire tulip (Tulipa whittallii)
  • Ixie (Triteleia ixoides ‘Starlight’)
  • Daffodil double (Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’)
  • Schneeglanz (Chionodoxa luciliae)
  • Snow crocus (crocus chrysanthus)
  • Star ball leek (Allium christophii)
  • Traubenhyazinthe (Muscari azureum)
  • Dwarf Iris (Iris histrioides ‘George’)
  • Dwarf tulip (Tulipa batalinii ‘Bright Gem’)

Problem solver in the shady rock garden, gravel garden and the gravel bed

Wherever areas are in the shade for at least some time, there is no need to forego planting. There are quite a few perennials that can take on the complicated combination of dry, sandy soil and partial shade to shade.

  • Amur Adonisröschen (Adonis amurensis)
  • Gelber Lerchensporn (Corydalis lutea)
  • Goldtröpfchen (Chiastophyllum oppositifolium)
  • Mauer Zimbelkraut (Cymbalaria muralis ‚Globosa Alba ‘)
  • Porcelain flowers (Saxifraga x urbium)
  • Forest poppy (Meconopsis cambrica)
  • White god flower (Dodecatheon meadia ‘Alba’)
  • Dwarf Goat’s Beard (Aruncus aethusifolius)
  • Dwarf splendor spar (Astilbe Glaberrima hybrid ‘Sprite’)
  • Dwarf Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum humile)

Small all-rounders for the mini rock garden

For the gravel garden on the balcony, the ideal plants can’t be tiny enough. At the same time, they are expected to thrive in the gravelly sandy substrate of an artificially created stone world in miniature format. Incidentally, the bucket versions of a gravel bed are quite suitable for a little meditation in the office, because the plants can do without any care even over a long weekend.

  • Bergenie (Bergenia cordifolia)
  • Brandkraut (Phlomis russeliana)
  • Dalmatian Silbergarbe (Achillea ageratifolia)
  • Speedwell (veronica teucrium)
  • Fetthenne (Sedum telephium)
  • Garden silver arum (Dryas x suendermannii)
  • Catnip (Nepeta faassenii)
  • Globular silver stone root (Jovibarba sobolifera)
  • Schafgarbe (Achillea fillipendulina)
  • Teppich-Hornkraut (Cerastium tomentosum)
  • Wolfsmilch (Euphorbia seguieriana)

No matter how creatively designed a rock garden is; It only gets its natural charm through the right choice of plants. Anyone who assumes that only a minimum of plants is suitable for this location in view of the poor soil conditions and the full sun will be pleasantly surprised. A wide range of adequate trees, shrubs, perennials and ground cover can cope with the requirements in the stony ambience. Suitable candidates are even available for problematic regions. Ideal plants for the rock garden, gravel garden and gravel bed are therefore available in abundance to give this popular variant in garden design the finishing touch.

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