Dress up your Garden with Rock Roses

This beautiful, vibrant groundcover perennial's resistance to pests and disease allows it to thrive in your garden

Credit: paterson.ra

H. Henfield Brilliant, one of the author’s favourite type of rock rose

Add beauty and vibrant colour to your rock garden with your favourite Rock (or Sun) Roses

Rock roses (or sun roses as they’re also known) are incredibly beautiful groundcover plants for sunny areas and mass plantings.

Once established, they are especially adaptable to hot and dry areas, a highly attractive feature in this era of watering restrictions and xeriscaping.

Caring for Rock Roses

The Latin name Helianthemum actually means “flower of sunshine,” and these plants really do live up to their name. There are many cultivars available, ranging from the purest of white to vivid, intense colours like reds and oranges. You’ll see these colours produced over an extended period in summer. If the flowers are cut back lightly after summer blooms begin to fade, you are often rewarded with a burst of re-bloom in autumn.

The predominately evergreen foliage is very attractive as well, and is often quite dense, ranging from rich greens to silvery blue.

These dwarf shrubs are usually sold as perennials at nurseries. They are truly delightful in the rock garden, for edging at the front of the border, or even in containers.

All sun roses require well-drained soil that is not too rich. They really dislike the wetness of winter. As for hardiness, most Rock roses are quite happy in zone 5 or with winter protection to zone 4, or even less.

Rock Rose Varieties

The rock roses found in gardens are mainly hybrids from three species: H. appeninum, H. cruceum and H. nummularium. Most are listed under H. nummularium.

Just a small sampling of the many cultivars available:

  • H. ‘Dazzler’ has vivid burgundy-red to magenta flowers.
  • H. ‘Wisley Pink’ is silvery green with showy, large, soft pink blooms.
  • H. ‘Wisley Primrose’ has delightful soft, pale-yellow flowers with blue to silver grey foliage.
  • H. ‘Raspberry Ripple’ has pinkish-red blooms, with varying degrees of white at the tips and dense, grey-green foliage.
  • H. ‘St. Mary’s White’ is sprawling with pristine white flowers and rich, green foliage.
  • H. ‘Henfield Brilliant’ is a favourite of mine, with fiery reddish-orange blooms and dense grey-green foliage that makes it an outstanding and showy addition to the garden.

Another attractive feature of rock roses is that they are quite resistant to pests and diseases.

Rock roses definitely deserve to be grown more often.