When heavens dry, don’t feel pressured to increase your watering program or risk losing the backyard. Rockrose (Cistus spp)is a Mediterranean native which excels in landscapes in which other crops flounder. Poor dirt, dry summer heat and rocky hillsides only lead to abundant colorful blooms which will not only save your slopes, but also keep your water bills down as well.
Melissa Gale Photography
Botanical name: Cistus spp
Common title: Rockrose
USDA zones: 7 to 10, depending on species
Water necessity: Little to none
moderate requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 3 to 5 ft tall and broad
Benefits: Tolerates wind, coastal states, poor soil, drought and arid conditions; plant for erosion control or fire immunity
Shown here: Cistus x bornetianus ‘Jester’, zones 7 to 9
Svein Erik Larsen
Distinguishing attributes. A sun- and – heat-loving plant, rockrose produces a colorful and lush heaping ground cover or informal hedge. Cooling leaves and vivid flowers enliven arenas which may otherwise have been left barren.
Cistus crispus, zones 8 to 10, cascades down a rocky path.
Terra Nova® Nurseries, Inc
Once recognized, rockrose will prosper with minimal or no care. Blooming profusely through summer and spring, it may also bloom sporadically throughout the rest of the year. Distinctly papery flowers range in shades from vibrant pinks to whites and lotions — typically with a bright yellow centre. When not flowering, rockrose creates a mounding texture of gentle gray-green leaves. The leaves of several species even emit a blossom resin when the warm summer sun beats down on them.
The hybrid Cistus‘McGuire’s Gold’ (shown) includes a normal form and blossoms with the exception of vibrant bright green leaves.
Linda & John Reinecke
How to use it. Rockrose, unsurprisingly, is quite commonly used in rock gardens or at which there’s a prevalence of gravelly and rocky soil. Dry banks or slopes can be difficult backyard spots for both planting and soil stability, and those are regions where rockrose thrives. Additionally, its nice texture and informal form contrast nicely with gravel and rocks as a gentle and effective ground cover or low-growing hedge.
Cistus palhinae, zones 8 to 10,revealed in Cape St. Vincent, Portugal, serves as great inspiration for designing with this plant. Scattered throughout the landscape, the plants tie the space together, gently accenting and highlighting the terrain. Without dominating the backyard, rockrose gives an enjoyable and unique outdoor adventure throughout all seasons.
Terra Nova® Nurseries, Inc
Planting notes. Rockrose is indigenous to the Mediterranean, preferring similar climates and conditions. Faring well in regions with dry, hot summers, many crops are hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant requires no additional watering and requires minimal maintenance once set up, so be sure soil is particularly well drained if you do irrigate.
While this plant doesn’t survive long, it is a fast grower. Stems may become woody with age, and the plant ought to be replaced when they become lean. Periodically cut back old stems so as to encourage new growth and keep the plant looking clean.
More great design crops:
Agave parryi | Euphorbia | Red-Leafed Mukdenia | Blue Chalk Sticks | Hens-and-Chicks |
Redtwig Dogwood | Toyon
Great layout trees:
Australian Tea Tree | Dove Tree | Bald Cypress | Chinese Witch Hazel | Western Maple |
Manzanita | Persian Ironwood | Smoke Tree | Texas Mountain Laurel | Tree Aloe
Great layout blossoms:
Ornamental Allium | Canna Lily | Catmint | Golden Creeping Jenny | Pacific Coast Iris |
Plumbago | Red Kangaroo Paw | Sally Holmes Rose | Slipper Plant | Snake Flower
Great layout grasses:
Alphonse Karr Bamboo | Black Mondo Grass | Cape Rush | Feather Reed Grass |
New Zealand Wind Grass