Beautiful Rock Garden Plants

Hills or inclines in the landscape present the perfect opportunity to install a rock garden. These gardens mimic nature's tendency to mix rocks and flowers in a perfect blend to create natural-looking settings. Rock gardens contain plants that tolerate little water and grow slowly. Some beautiful rock garden plants feature trailing habits that allow a waterfall effect of foliage and dainty flowers to spill over rock formations. Others appear almost stark in their simple foliage and flower design.

Purple Rock Cress

Purple rock cress delivers stunning foliage and flowers in the rock garden as one of the first plants to bloom in spring. Rock cress produces abundant purple blooms with inconspicuous foliage to create a wave of color in the rock garden. These plants grow slowly and prefer well-drained soil in a sunny location. Purple rock cress grows in a clump formation so consider planting these flowers near a rock formation to benefit from the plant ability to grow in very little soil. Rock cress grows well in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9 and matures to a height of 8 inches.


Coreopsis thrives in the sunniest part of the garden with dry soil. This delicate looking plant showcases fine foliage with daisy-like yellow flowers. Coreopsis grows in full to partial shade, making this plant both beautiful and versatile in the rock garden. Gardeners also call this plant tickseed for its dainty, needle-like leaves. Coreopsis performs as a perennial and grows up to 18 inches tall in zones 3-9. Expect blooms in early summer and give a quick dead-head pruning to the plant to encourage more blooms.

Sedum Spurium

Sedum offers the gardeners a traditional looking plant for the rock garden. Sedum doesn't feature dramatic, bright flowers. Rather, its beauty comes from its ability to tolerate the roughest soil conditions. Sedum looks like a succulent with thick light green leaves. Sedum spurium produces mauve-colored flowers in mid summer and thrives in zones 3 to 8. This plant tolerates full sun to partial shade planting conditions and grows slowly in the rock garden. Mature plants reach up to 4 feet tall and easily perform as an anchor plant in the rock garden. Sedum performs as a semi-evergreen groundcover with beautiful foliage throughout the year.

Rock Soapwart

The silly name actually refers to a simply stunning plant for use in the rock garden. Rock soapwart features pink flowers in late spring that adds a cascade of color to the landscape. This plant performs well when placed in clumps that allow the plant to flow over rock formations. Rock soapwart grows well in well-drained soil and prefers full sun. Foliage features thick, evergreen-like leaves shaped in teardrops that provide accent to the rock garden well after the late spring blooms disappear. Rock soapwart grows in zones 2 to 7 and reaches a mature height of 8 inches as a ground cover.

Keywords: rock garden plants, rock garden, plants for rock gardens

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.