The type of plants you use to landscape in and around your rock bed will likely depend on what kind of rock bed you have. For example, you can have a rock bed that resembles a dry creek bed and landscape with desert plants. Or your rock bed might serve a dual function as both an ornamental landscape focal point and a drainage mechanism for your yard. In the latter case, you'll need to choose more water-loving plants due to the amount of water funneling through and around the rock garden.
Landscaping a Dry Rock "Creek" Bed
Plant cacti around your dry rock or creek bed if you're cultivating a desert-type landscape or if your climate is drier and often experiences drought conditions. Try planting several varieties of cacti to make your landscape visually interesting. Be sure to plant a prickly pear cactus, which grows up to 3 feet tall and produces yellow blooms in the summertime followed by pear-shaped fruits.
Plant periwinkles and heather behind your dry creek bed. These grow large in dry conditions and will add a splash of color to your rock bed.
Add lantana, aloe plants and yuccas to your rock bed landscape to supplement your larger plants with these smaller ones that also require little to no water.
Plant some Sempervivums (hens and chicks or houseleeks) or other succulents in between the rocks. These will add color and a variety of shapes from their rosettes in your dry creek bed.
Landscaping a "Wet" Rock Bed
Plant ornamental grasses near the outer edges of your rock bed. Place taller, upright plants toward the back of your rock bed.
Place water-loving plants like Carex, Juncus and tall cardinal flowers in a small pocket filled with sand and covered with river rocks in your rock bed. Plant these if your rock bed is often filled with water.
Plant creeping plants, such as creeping thyme, in between the larger rocks. The creeping plants can grow and trail over the rocks to add some softness to your rock garden.
Add alpines and other small plants to the foreground of your rock bed, preferably next to the smaller rocks. Plant Lewisia to add some smaller flowers to the rock bed.
About this Author
Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.