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Best Plants for Rock Gardens

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Rock cress

Aubrieta deltoidea

Rock cress, as you can guess from the name, is one of those plants that like tough love -- give it a hot, dry crack between some stones somewhere and it will flourish. It can cover a stacked-stone wall or rocky outcropping with beautiful blue-purple flowers.

Purple rock cress usually has purple or blue flowers, but rock wall cress is more likely to bloom in white or pink. Both make attractive low mounds that look great at the edge of retaining wall where they get full sun and excellent drainage. Cut stems back after spring bloom to keep plants compact.

Light:

Sun

Type:

Height:

Under 6 inches

Width:

1-2 feet wide

Flower Color:

Seasonal Features:

Special Features:

Zones:

4-8

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Basket-of-gold
Basket-of-gold is one of those plants that loves to grow in the least likely of place -- cracks between paving stones, the edge of gravel paths and patios, rocky outcroppings, between the stacked stones of a retaining wall, and more. It loves a baked spot with excellent drainage but will struggle in hot, humid areas and tends not to do well in the South.But where it does well, it's a showstopper. It will reseed prolifically in little cracks, filling an area each spring with dazzling neon yellows. After it finishes blooming, the grayish-green foliage makes an attractive mat in the perennial garden.
Dianthus
The quintessential cottage flower, pinks are treasured for their grasslike blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicily fragrant. Depending on the type of pink, flowers appear in spring or summer and tend to be pink, red, white, rose, or lavender, but come in nearly all shades except true blue. Plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Foliage is blue-green.Shown above: 'Firewitch' dianthus
Sedum
Sedums are nearly the perfect plants. They look good from the moment they emerge from the soil in spring and continue to look fresh and fabulous all growing season long. Many are attractive even in winter when their foliage dies and is left standing. They're also drought-tolerant and need very little if any care. They're favorites of butterflies and useful bees. The tall types are outstanding for cutting and drying. Does it get better than that? Only in the fact that there are many different types of this wonderful plant, from tall types that will top 2 feet to low-growing groundcovers that form mats. All thrive in full sun with good drainage. Ground cover types do a good job of suppressing weeds, but seldom tolerate foot traffic. Some of the smaller ones are best grown in pots or treated as houseplants.
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