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11 Best Plants for Rock Gardens

Best Overall
Blue Fescue Grass
Best Evergreen
Rock Cress
Best Clustering Flowers
Creeping Phlox

Do you have a rocky landscape and are looking for something to grow there?  Consider growing perennial plants that can withstand your soil and harsh conditions. Rock garden plants are non-demanding plants that can grow easily in your rocky landscape.

These plants are also drought-tolerant, and any poor soil conditions or extreme heat won’t stop them from making a colorful splash in your rock garden. As long as there’s good drainage, these plants will thrive and elevate the hardscape look provided by gravels and rocks. Take a look at these best rock garden plants.

Our Top Plants for Rock Gardens Picks

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1. Rock Cress

Rock cress is an evergreen perennial that grows to just 12 inches high. It makes a nice edging plant with narrow leaves and blooms in late winter through spring. Its clusters of pink or white flowers make this creeper plant beautify any rock garden.


Both full sun and partial shade are accepted by rock cress, but well-draining soil is highly needed. It can be grown in any soil type except for water-logged conditions. Rock cress is also a hardy plant that matches rock garden aesthetics and requirements.

2. Blue Fescue Grass

Blue fescue is ornamental grass and is suitable for rock gardens and small spaces. This grass type can trail or cover the ground, making it a perfect choice to spread around rocks of any size.

It produces its best foliage in full sun but can also tolerate a little shade.

3. Creeping Phlox

This plant produces clusters of small flowers which are pink in color. The creeping phlox can grow in rock crevices with minimum maintenance. It is a perfect ground cover if you have an area that gets at least four to five hours of sun each day.

It grows well in sandy soil and can tolerate heat and drought better than some other phlox species.

4. Sedum Autumn Joy

This versatile perennial is perfect for your rock garden. They’re drought tolerant and adapt well to full sun and part shade, which means they’re suitable for any area of your yard or garden.

It blooms bright yellow flowers in late summer through mid-fall fall and does best in well-draining soil. With its height and density, sedum autumn joy is a suitable substitute for shrub.

5. Russian Sage

This fragrant flower is a good choice for rock gardens and other low-maintenance garden beds. It tolerates drought and heat well and forms blue, white, or purple flowers from mid to late summer.

The fragrant leaves emit a strong scent as they warm in the sun, making them a great addition to outdoor spaces.

6. Red Creeping Thyme

Another beautiful choice for rock gardens, this low-growing plant is hardy, drought-tolerant, and spreads out to create a nice ground cover. The flowers are pink in the summer, with their leaves being evergreen.

It tolerates heavy rainfall well but doesn’t do so hot in dry conditions. With its delicate greenery and fragrant pink blooms, red creeping thyme can be tucked among pavers and along walkways to add beauty and repel weeds.

7. Soapwort

This plant grows to about 8 inches and bears pink flowers. It is extremely drought tolerant and does well in the sun or shade but doesn’t work well in wet conditions. The flowers of soapwort resemble the look of phlox blossoms.

They are usually small and produce a sweet fragrance. In terms of lower color, these alpine gardens bloom in shades of pink and white, and the green foliage can have some tinges of blue.

8. Thyme

Thyme can be a great decorative accent to any rock garden. It’s recommended to use thyme to cover more specific areas like an empty corner. But if you want to cover the entire ground, don’t worry because you can still find thyme varieties for the job.

Thyme herbs have bright green foliage and light purple flowers. You can also use their aromatic properties to season your food.

9. Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly pear cacti are low-growing perennials, so place them in the rock garden to give it a unique look. It is an excellent plant for containers since it can’t survive cold temperatures and won’t require much maintenance.

Prickly pear cactus also have pines on the leaves, so take care while planting them in your garden.

10. Alyssum

Alyssum is a genus of low-growing, often branching subshrubs native to the rocky mountainous regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Alyssum flowers are mostly white or pink, with four or five petals that may resemble daisies.


However, this type of plant does not need sun exposure and can survive drought conditions. As a ground cover, it can serve to prevent soil erosion. This plant is also appreciated for its subtle-like honey fragrance.

11. Euphorbia

Euphorbia leaf plants are a genus of flowering plants with about 2,000 species. Euphorbia plants prefer rocky and dry environments, thriving in full sun exposure to partial shade and drought resistance.


If you live in warm climates, this type of plant can be used in landscapes, including desert rocks. Euphorbia, like cacti, can store water in its leaves or stems for days when there’s no rain or moisture; it will take care of itself even without you.

FAQS on Best Plants for Rock Gardens

Yes, roses can be planted in rocky gardens as long as you make some amendments before planting because of the poor nutrients and less water in rocky landscapes. For them to grow well, you must learn basic care such as how to prune roses

Final Thought on Best Plants for Rock Gardens

As you can see, many types of plants can be included in a rock garden. It depends on the look that you want to achieve and your personal preferences. For example, if you love blooming flowers, there is a wide array of plants for a rock garden that will bloom in different seasons. As much as possible, it is best to choose low-maintenance plants.

Finally, it is very helpful to find out what kind of soil or substrate your specific plants need. With that knowledge, you will be able to choose the best plants for rock gardens.

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Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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