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Plants for a Gravel Garden

By Laura Wallace Henderson ; Updated September 21, 2017

Plants add beauty and function in many areas of the landscape and garden. Areas that contain rocks and gravel create a dilemma for many gardeners. However, these unique areas provide the perfect location for many types of plants suited to this particular environment. Take into consideration the existing landscape design when selecting plants for a gravel area.

Plants for Sandy Soil

Many rocky locations contain sandy soil beneath the surface, making it necessary to incorporate organic ingredients or select plants suited to sandy conditions. Choose plants that tolerate heat and sun for gravel gardens in the open. Poppy mallow is an attractive plant that produces red flowers. Tickseed survives in many sandy locations and provides attractive, yellow blossoms to rocky areas. Select purple asters for fall color in sandy areas.


Small, spreading plants extend over and between rocks found in gravel gardens. These groundcovers grow in a variety of soils and climates. Carpet bugle is a type of groundcover that prefers shady locations with well-drained soil. This attractive little plant produces blue and purple flowers during the months of May and June. Dianthus forms a dark green carpet among rock garden plants. This plant grows in well-drained, sunny locations. Red blossoms appear in spring and early summer.


Some shrubs grow well in gravel gardens. Due to the difficulty of digging and planting within gravel gardens, shrubs provide ongoing beauty without disturbing the soil every year. Conifers and low-growing evergreens provide color to gravel areas. Use conifers as background plants to enhance the contrast of foreground flowers in rock gardens.


Many types of perennial flowers flourish in rock gardens. Select perennial flowers for their ability to produce blossoms in subsequent years. Consider color schemes when planting perennials. Choose those that enhance the rest of the landscape. Alyssum is a plant that produces small flowers over gray foliage. This plant prefers dry, rocky conditions with full sunlight. Campanula is a perennial flower that blossoms in shades of blue during the months of June, July and August.


About the Author


Laura Wallace Henderson, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear online at Biz Mojo, Walden University and various other websites. She has served as the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." She continues to empower and encourage women everywhere by promoting health, career growth and business management skills.