Top 10 Plants for Rocky Soil

Does your shovel hit stones every time you dig? You need our list of top plants for rocky soil.

Some plants give up when their root systems have too many rocks to contend with, making gardening a real challenge. If your soil is less than perfect, try one or more of these plants for rocky soil and see your yard come to life.

Tom Bean / Alamy
Common Bearberry

Common Bearberry

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Zones 2 to 6

Rocky and sandy soils are ideal for this hardy, low-growing, evergreen ground cover, making it a good choice for drought-tolerant gardens. Bearberry produces white or pink flowers in summer and red berries in fall.

Proven Winners
Bellfower

Bellflower

Campanula spp., Zones 3 to 9

Spring- and summer-blooming bellflower comes in both vibrant and pastel shades of pink and blue, plus white. Though this plant doesn’t mind the rocks, it needs regular watering. Many cultivars are perennials, but some annual varieties are available as well.

Proven Winners
Candytuft

Candytuft

Iberis spp., Zones 5 to 9

Another useful ground cover, candytuft will spread over your rocky space in no time. This early-blooming perennial or annual with pale blossoms does best in full sun.

Proven Winners
Columbine

Columbine

Aquilegia, Zones 3 to 9

Gardeners love that this perennial is both graceful and tough. Not only is columbine easy to cultivate, it thrives almost anywhere, from rocky spots and open slopes to woodland paths and backyard gardens. The intricately shaped flower is available in a wide range of colors.

RDA-GID
Hens-and-Chicks

Hens-and-Chicks

Sempervivum spp., Zones 4 to 8

The only way to kill this succulent is by being too generous with watering. This summer-blooming perennial grows 3 to 6 inches tall and up to 20 inches wide. For best results, plant in well-draining soil that gets full sun to light shade. This low grower also works wonders in containers.

RDA-GID
Lavender

Lavender

Lavandula, Zones 5 to 10

Known for its namesake purple flowers, nononsense lavender is also available in white and pink varieties. The mounding plants range from 1 to 4 feet in diameter, often a bit taller than they are wide, and grow best in full sun.

Maureen Ruddy Burkhart / Alamy
Showy Milkweed

Showy Milkweed

Asclepias speciosa, Zones 3 to 9

This 3- to 6-foot-tall butterfly magnet boasts rose-colored flowers of 3 to 5 inches, along with silvery foliage.
In the wild, it’s found in western and central North America, growing along sandy and rocky shores and in prairies. Showy milkweed does best in moist, well-draining soil, but also tolerates dry areas.

Carolyn Hopper
Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower

Pulsatilla vulgaris, Zones 4 to 8

Pointy, bold blooms and fuzzy foliage make the pasque flower unique. It will brighten up any springtime garden even after its blossoms have faded, because the seed heads are pretty, too.

Proven Winners
Sedum

Sedum

Sedum spp., Zones 3 to 10

Available in ground cover and upright varieties, sedum is a fabulous choice for a rocky garden. This resilient plant sports little star-shaped blooms in brilliant colors. The multihued foliage comes in many shapes, from round to spiky, putting sedum in the spotlight all season long.

RDA-GID
Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum

Lobularia maritima, annual

Don’t overlook this popular container and border plant if cultivating rocky soil is your goal. Clusters of diminutive flowers bloom all summer long, in full sun to partial shade.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.