Make Your Garden Rock

SLHL asked local landscapers to share their favorite plants for rock gardens.

By Melissa Mauzy


If you’re tired of watering the lawn, switch up grass for rocks with a modern rock garden. Appreciate their natural, rugged beauty, plus they are low maintenance. SLHL asked local landscapers to share their favorite plants for rock gardens.

“Bring bright color to your landscapes with Lime Twister Stonecrop, Sedum. A compact grower, its apple-green foliage is edged in creamy white. Hot-pink flowers appear in late summer and fall. Wonderful in masses or groups, and as a weed-smothering ground cover, Lime Twister resists deer and rabbits and thrives in hot, sunny, dry areas.” Ann Lapides, Sugar Creek Gardens.

“Chamaecyparis is a versatile plant that lends itself to a rock garden for multiple reasons. From a health standpoint, the Chamaecyparis doesn’t require a significant amount of water, thus doing well in rock gardens, which can be a dryer environment where root systems tend to be warmer. When tucked against a boulder or planted in a rock garden, it creates soft lines in the landscape creating balance and visual interest.” Jim Graeler, Chesterfield Valley Nursery.

“My favorite rock garden plant is Talinum calycinum, or Rock Pink. It is a Missouri native that only grows 6-12" tall and 12" wide. It has hot-pink flowers that bloom all summer. It will also seed itself to form small colonies.” Cathy Pauley, Papillon Perennials.

“Rock gardens call for some sort of creeping or spreading plant to cascade and meander through the boulders. A low-maintenance option is also key in a rock garden so the caretaker does not need to clamber around the boulders to prune and care for the plants. My favorite plant to use in a rock garden is Ajuga. Not only does it allow the boulders to stand out against the dark foliage, but there also is a great contrast between the structure of the boulders and the soft texture of the plant material.”  Katy Molaskey, Green Guys.

“Sedum plants rock my rock-garden world any day of the week. With seemingly endless varieties to choose from, interesting leaf and flower colors and amazing texture, how can you go wrong with these succulents? For some red-leaf color try ‘Dazzleberry’ Sedum. For a hardy reliability try Packy Sedum ‘Kamtschaticum’. For a taller Sedum try ‘Frosty Morn’ or ‘Autumn Joy’. Whatever you choose, you will get an interesting, water-wise plant!” Christine Knoernschild, Passiglia’s Nursery.