Low Growing Plants of the Rose Family Such As Herbs

Like members of many human families, Rose (Rosaceae) family plants share some physical traits. Whether shrub roses, fruiting trees like apples and cherries or low-growing herbs like cinquefoil, they all have cup-shaped flowers with profuse stamens, separated petals and five sepals (protective outer petals). The lowly wild strawberry, in its way, is as distinctively “rosy” as the showiest, most fragrant and showstopping garden rose.

Goat's Beard

Native to Korea, perennial goat’s beard (Aruncus aethsusifolius) stands up to 1 foot high. It has basal mound of fern-like, dark green leaves that contrast well with May or June’s feather spires of dense, small white blooms. With delicate looks that belie its hardiness, goat’s beard is hardy to minus 40 degrees F (USDA plant hardiness zone 3). It’s a good choice for partially shady locations and rock gardens, advises the Missouri Botanical Garden. Goat's beard needs rich, consistently moist soil to perform its best.

Meadowsweet Kahome

Another zone 3 rose family perennial, meadowsweet (Filipendula) Kahome grows just 6 inches to 1 foot tall and wide. Like goat’s beard, it has spires of small flowers above airy, fern-like green foliage. Fragrant Kahome’s June and July blooms, however, are deep pink. This easy-care plant makes a good ground cover for moist or wet, partly shady areas, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Happiest in averagely fertile, well-drained soil, it benefits from afternoon shade in hot summer climates.

Avens Cooky

Reaching just 1 foot high and 9 inches wide, avens (Geum coccineum) Cooky is as hardy as it is small. Handling winter temperatures to minus 20 degrees F, this perennial herb has downy, lobed green foliage. Cooky has slender, upright branching stems. Its yellow-stamened orange blossoms are heaviest in May and June. Removing the spent flowers will encourage bloom through the summer, notes the Missouri Botanical Garden. Most appealing in massed plantings, Cooky likes averagely moist, well-drained soil and afternoon shade in summer heat. Wet winter soil may kill it.

Dwarf Spiraea

One of the rose family's most surprising members, dwarf spiraea (Petrophyton caespitosum) stands just 1 inch high when it isn't in bloom. Sometimes called Rocky Mountain rockmat, it has dense, tiny silvery leaves. Rooting in mountain crevices, the plants create cushiony mats up to 3 feet wide atop the surrounding rocks. Their color and texture closely resembles those of the rocks they cover, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. From June to August, short, cylindrical spikes of white blooms rise above the leaves. Growing from foothills to mountain summits across the Western United States, dwarf spiraea needs full sun and coarse soil. It’s a natural for rock gardens.

Keywords: rose family herbs, low rosaceae plants, rosaceae family, meadowsweet plant, dwarf spiraea

About this Author

A freelance writer, Judy Wolfe has owned Prose for the Pros, a freelance writing business, since 2006. She's been an inveterate traveler since 1961 and draws on her travel experiences to provide articles for such websites as Chincoteague Island Vacations and Berlin Dude. Wolfe holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from California State University at Pomona.