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Gardeners with limited space can use containers, pots, or troughs to house rocks plants. Artificial stone mixtures come in a variety of colors and can be applied to the outside of containers to create a more natural look.
For alpine plants, this is followed by a fairly long winter spent under a layer of thick, insulating snow. Rarely do these plants encounter the prolonged growing seasons, extreme heat, and high humidity that they have to endure while growing in our backyards. This can make selecting the plants a bit tricky.
Prostrate: These are the cascading plants that spill over and sprawl in between rocks.
Large Specimens: Used in open spaces or planted at angles in between rocks.
Rosette forming Plants: Often tucked into crevices. An example would be hen and chicks.
Most rock garden plants are perennials. Because many rock garden plants tend to bloom in early spring, some gardeners also mix in heat-loving annuals and bulbs for year round color.
Good places to start looking for plants are local nurseries - especially those specializing in native plants. Rock gardening has become increasingly popular and many nurseries and garden centers are responding by offering a variety of interesting plants.
Getting plants from reputable local nurseries means they'll be well suited to your growing zone and they will probably also be much larger than those acquired from a catalog. To round out your collection, look for plants that form compact mounds, carpets or mats, and plants that spread by runners.
Once plants get established, they are likely to need less frequent watering than other plants in your garden. Even so, get to know your plants and what their different moisture requirements are.
Too much moisture may cause root rot in some plants, while too little water may cause severe stress to others. In general, deep, infrequent watering is better than frequent light watering.
Mulching with a layer of small pebbles will conserve moisture, discourage slugs, and blend in nicely with the surrounding landscape. If you're growing plants with a lot of different moisture needs, it may be better to spot water individual plants.
Place larger stones at the base and smaller stones toward the top. Avoid creating patterns. Instead, strive for randomness. You will achieve a more natural look by grouping rocks in uneven clusters along with leaving a few spaces open for plants and randomly placed stones.
Rocks will look more natural if at least 1/3 of the rock's height is partially buried in the soil. Place the broadest side down in the soil and slant all of the rocks at a similar angle so that the tips point slightly up to direct water back toward the plants. This will help conserve water and help prevent erosion.
Last spring my husband and I decided our front yard needed some landscaping. Instead of hiring a professional we decided to give it a go and we built our own rockery. We had a load of rocks, a load of fill dirt and a load of bark delivered to our house.
First, they brought the fill dirt. We had them dump it in the general area that we wanted our new garden beds to be. This made it easy to take some off the top and move it to other areas. Then, we groomed what was left into the shape and height that we wanted our garden bed to be.
The next load delivered was the rocks and the bark. The giant pile of rocks was a little bit daunting at first. But, as we started to roll the big rocks into place the pile quickly diminished to smaller and smaller rocks, that were much easier to handle. The rockery was easy to build but hard on the back.
We started with the bigger rocks lining the bottom then stacking rocks that fit in between and on top of the bigger rocks, making sure to wedge them in with smaller rocks when needed so they supported each other and created a sturdy wall.
I really love how it turned out and can't wait to get more plants planted in the bed this spring.
By StellaBella from Manchester, WA
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What other plants can I plant with hen and chicks? I am trying to make a rock garden.
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The other day we had to do some digging, to install a rock wall that was to be the border for our flower garden, and Ashlyn wanted to help us dig, so I gave her my shovel, and she helped Granddad dig the border for the retaining wall. I thought that it made such a cute picture, small Ashlyn and big Granddad, working together on a project. (of course, I did my digging time, as well, LOL.)