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Rock Garden Ideas

Plants for a Rock Garden

Ground-cover sedum works well in a trough or slope.
Ground-cover sedum works well in a trough or slope.

Plants for rock gardens are often chosen specifically to evoke or even recreate mountainous landscapes. By carefully planting and cultivating the blossoms, a rock gardener undertakes a uniquely rewarding challenge.

With a bit of patience and a discerning eye, a gardener can transform a pile of stones and bulbs into a captivating rock garden. The following plant profiles will tell you what you need to know to create a rock garden of your own, from growing suggestions to soil requirements.



With its purple blooms, aubretia is one of three classic spring-blooming plants used in rock gardens, ideal for banks, walls, or slopes.


Growing in red, yellow, and white varieties, and blooming in both spring and summer, avens' bright colors stand out prettily in any rock garden.

Basket of Gold, Goldentuft

Each spring, these brilliant yellow flowers appear, spreading low to the ground. For a more subdued, pastel shade, the "Citrina" variety can be substituted.

Blue Fescue

This tufty grass grows in narrow, silvery blue-green blades. Since they grow no higher than four inches, they are excellent for small-scale gardens.

Campanula, Bellflower

Also known as "fairy's thimble," these bell-shaped flowers grow in pale blue or white, and are perfect for rock gardens and containers.


Blooming in the spring, these sweet-smelling clusters of snow-white flowers fit easily into any rock garden.

Dianthus Carnation Pinks

Useful as a ground cover in rock gardens, dianthus carnations come not only in pink, but also mauve, red, and white.

Dwarf Deutzia

Due to its small dimensions, dwarf deutzia can be utilized in a rock garden of virtually any size. Spring's white flowers eventually give way to a lovely red in fall.

Ground-Cover Sedum

Whether on a sunny slope or a wall, or even in a trough, the red, pink, or white star-shaped flowers of ground-cover sedum make for a handsome rock garden.

Gypsy Baby's Breath

The tiny flowers of gypsy baby's breath appear misty from even a short distance, and look beautiful on a sloped bank or rock wall.

Hairy Penstemon

At the end of spring, spikes of rose-pink to lavender flowers appear, favoring open ground and tight crevices alike.


Easily-grown, the rosettes on this low-growing succulent can be green, bronze, ruby, or green, and work well in pots and troughs.

Ice Plant

Any sunny walkway would be enhanced by the splash of purple-magenta daisylike flowers of the ice plant.


Native to the Pacific Northwest, lewisia blooms in pink, peach, apricot, cream, and white, and is a good choice for rock gardens, troughs, or pots.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Though it requires a warmer climate than many other plants, the brilliant yellow flowers that bloom in spring to summer make beautiful additions to a rock garden.

Rock Cress

An evergreen mat of foliage is characteristic of rock cress, making it an ideal plant for any rock garden. In April, white blossoms only add to its appeal.


From summer to fall, pink flowers bloom from long, trailing stems, ideal for growing on top of a rock wall.


With its attractive yellow flowers and tendency to creep, sedum is excellent in rock gardens, as it will grow where many other plants cannot.

Snow-in-Summer, Ghost Weed

The tiny white flowers that give this plant its name grow from late spring all the way through summer, making a wonderful ground-cover flower.

Trumpet Gentian

Unusually-colored, the navy blue and green-striped trumpet gentian looks beautiful in a trough or rock garden.


Standing tall at up to six feet, yucca blooms in the summer, producing an exotic, cream-colored set of bells.

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