Top 10 Plants for Growing in Rocky Soil

Updated: Apr. 19, 2023

Does your shovel hit stones every time you try to dig? You need our list of the 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.

Check out the top 10 plants for growing in clay soil.

Tom Bean / Alamy

Common Bearberry

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Zones 2 to 6

Rocky soils 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.


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 these plants don’t mind rocky soils, they do need regular watering. Many cultivars are perennials, but some annual varieties are available as well.

Check out the best plants for container shade gardening.

Evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) - white flowers in a gardenanand purohit/Getty Images


Iberis spp., Zones 5 to 9

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

old fashioned flowers, plants for rocky soilCourtesy Deborah Bryk


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. Place these plants in rocky soils, open slopes, woodland paths and backyard gardens. The intricately shaped flower is available in a wide range of colors.

Try the top 10 old fashioned flowers for your garden.

Common Houseleek, hens and chicks, plants for rocky soilJelena990/Getty Images
Common houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum) growing in the garden. Selective focus.


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, place these plants in well-draining rocky soil that gets full sun to light shade. This low grower also works wonders in containers.

These succulents will attract pollinators.

Bees enjoy stopping by Phenomenal lavender.Diana Robinson Photography/Getty Images


Lavandula,Zones 5 to 10

Known for its namesake purple flowers, no-nonsense lavender is also available in white and pink varieties. The mounding plants for rocky soils range from 1 to 4 feet in diameter, often a bit taller than they are wide, and grow best in full sun.

Can’t beat the summer heat? Try the top 10 heat-tolerant plants.

showy milkweed, plants for rocky soilCourtesy Susan Conger

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.

Psst—we found more monarch butterfly flowers you should grow.

Pasque flowerCourtesy Janet Wachter

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.

seed bearing plants, easy perennials, autumn joy sedumJustus de Cuveland/Getty Images
Autumn joy sedum


Sedum spp., Zones 3 to 10

Available in ground cover and upright varieties, sedum is a fabulous choice for a pollinator garden. The resilient plants for rocky soil sport 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.

Sweet Alyssum or Lobularia maritima white flowersskymoon13/Getty Images

Sweet Alyssum

Lobularia maritima, annual

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