Alpine Rockery Plants

Alpine & Rockery

What are Alpine Plants?

Alpine plants are plants that grow in an alpine climate, usually at higher altitudes. Alpines grow in clumps in some pretty harsh conditions that other plants wouldn’t survive such as small cracks in rocks and dying tree trunks.

In recent years alpines have an acquired a reputation for being hard to grow and only suitable for specialist gardeners, this is far from the truth and there are many varieties available that are easy to plant and take very little, if any; watering and maintenance.

Why grow alpines?

With the ever increase in hosepipe bans across the UK due to the climate change causing dryer summers, it is important for us to find plants that are more drought resistant. The good news is that there are plenty of alpine plants, which produce beautiful flowers throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn. Sedum is a great plant and is often grown on shed roofs throughout the country, creating additional green areas that are full of wildlife. With modern gardens becoming much smaller alpines can be grown in a limited space.

Alpines can be grown in a rock garden, a sink, a trough placed on a patio or even in crevices between stones in patios and pathways.

When is the best time to buy and plant?

The best time to buy alpines is whenever you see a plant that you like! Alpines are available all throughout the year, as with other plants certain species are seasonal so you may not get them at another time if you wait until Spring for example.

The best time to plant them out is March/April as the soil is starting to warm up, although you can plant them at any time of the year. With a March/April planting the roots will grow more vigourously and be able to settle before the warmer weather in the summer. If the weather isn’t too hot then September and October can also be a good time for planting.

How to plant

You may be surprised how long the roots are on most alpine plants, once you take them out of their pots gently tease put the roots and you will find that many plants in 7cm pots have roots 30-60cm long! Dig a hole the same diameter as the pot, lower the loostened plant into the hole and widen/deepen the hole if necessary, then gently refill it firming the soil as you go. Once planted use a heavy layer of coarse gravel over the top to supress weeds and give a heavy watering, if you have planted in the Spring you may never need to water the p[ant again.

This collection of alpines has been grown on a piece of driftwood, it is part of our alpine display in the garden centre.
alpine and rockery plants Kent
The alpine landscape below has been created in a shallow tray with some slate to create an upright planting structure, topped with shingle to suppress weeds and a few small stones to look like boulders.
alpine and rockery plants Kent
Alpine Rockery Plants

Drought-tolerant Starter Plants

Aethionema pulchellum

Grey foliage and pink four-petalled flowers; short lived but seeds about without being a nuisance. Typical flowering size 10cm x 10cm.

Aethionema pulchellum
Aubrieta deltoidea

A garden favourite for over a century. Flowers in many colours: white, pink, red, purple. Typical flowering size 8cm x 40cm.

Aubrieta deltoidea
Crepis incana

A Turkish pink dandelion with grey-green foliage. Well-behaved: does not seed down. Flowers all summer Typical flowering size 10cm x 20cm.

Crepis incana
Pulsatilla vulgaris

From chalk downlands but grows in any soil. Deep roots. Do not move once planted. Many named forms with flowers in white, pink, lilac, violet, purple. Typical flowering size 20cm x 20cm.

Pulsatilla vulgaris
Ranunculus calandrinioides

From the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. Pale pink buttercup flowers on and off throughout the year.

Typical flowering size 15cm x 10cm.

Sempervivum sp.

The houseleeks are tough! There are hundreds of species and cultivars in a rainbow of different colours, many of which change with the seasons.Typical flowering size 10cm x 15cm.

Sempervivum
Teucrium ackermanii

Grey foliage and sheets of pink flowers in late spring โ€“ early summer.
Typical flowering size 5cm x 30cm.

Teucrium ackermanii
Thymus azoricus

Pale, fresh green foliage and white or pale pink flowers in summer. Highly scented! Typical flowering size 3cm x 40cm.

Thymus azoricus
Thymus serphyllum

Darker green foliage. Flowers white โ€“ deep red โ€“ purple in summer. Bees love it.
Typical flowering size 3cm x 30cm.

Thymus serphyllum
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