Alpines are plants found in high mountainous areas generally above the natural tree line.They are usually exposed to wide ranging temperatures: very freely draining low nutrient soils: strong winds and high light levels. To survive these conditions they have evolved a number of defences because they are low growing, mat or cushion-forming plants. They are protected against harsh winds and cold: they are dormant under snow; they have extensive root systems to seek out moisture and nutrients: they often have spiny growths to deter grazing animals. These conditions are different to a British winter but provided you bear in mind their natural growing conditions, you can grow them quite successfully.

How to grow Alpines

These dwarf plants offer a huge choice of flower colour and also of shape, foliage and a diversity of usage. Used in a rockery, spectacular displays can be achieved with the colour and form of the plants complimenting the rocks. They also make good container plants on patios and are good in old sinks and troughs and raised beds. Some will grow well in hanging baskets and in crevices in walls, or paving stones. Types such as Thyme can be planted en-masse to give a colourful and scented carpet.

Alpines in containers

Alpines can live in containers for many years and dwarf types especially benefit from being displayed in raised sinks or troughs so that their minute detail can be better appreciated. Smaller containers will need holes in the bottom to let excess water drain off. Always put a layer of broken crocks in the bottom to help with drainage and ensure the roots never sit in water. Provide a planting mix of 30% general purpose compost, 30% leafmould or garden compost and 40% added grit. Top dress with gravel and place in a sunny location. Water regularly but not excessively. Keep alpines even drier in winter, but do not allow to dry out. Feed with a general fertiliser at just a 1/4 of the manufacturers recommended strength for other plants in mid-spring. Keep free from weeds and pick off any dead leaves and prune as needed. Move pots into a cool well ventilated greenhouse in winter.

Creating a rockery

A rockery is intended to give the appearance of a rock outcrop mound in a mountanous region. The site is important and a bank is ideal, as building on a level surface seldom achieves a natural effect. The use of natural or imitation rock stone rather than broken concrete or old bricks is preferable. It is best to use one type of rock, choosing the largest pieces you can comfortably handle, although using some pieces will help give a natural effect.

When positioning your plants consider how they would appear in nature. Try to copy this natural look when building your rockery. Create pockets of suitable planting soil for the plants. To add interest vary the soil between the rocks. Bury the base of rocks and slope them back to help direct the rain into the pockets. Most alpines will tolerate any type of soil, providing it is well drained!.

Once the rockery is planted, cover the soil surface with small gauge gravel or shingle to enhance the look and keep the soil cool. Although many alpines grow on very poor soils, always water after planting and in very dry spells. Feed in spring with a general fertiliser at 1/4 strength for other plants to ensure best results.

Recommended plants

Take a look at our range below. We deliver nationwide usually within 2-3 working days

  • Dianthus Deltoides White 9cm pot

    Plants form a low, spreading mound of light green leaves, studded with small white flowers in late spring, then on and off through the summer. Trim back lightly after first flowering. Good choice for poor soils, and hot, sunny sites. Also excellent in tubs and mixed containers.

  • Dianthus hybrida Dinetta Soft Pink 9cm pot

    'Dinetta' is a small cushion-forming perennial with linear, grey-green evergreen leaves and double pink flowers in late spring through autumn.

  • Dianthus Scent First Iced Gem 9cm pot

    Sweet, fragrant, lavender coloured flowers that are delicately flushed with white towards the 'picotee' frilled edges of the petals.

  • Dianthus Super Parfait Mixed 9cm pot

    Long flowering mixed colours. For beds tubs and borders.

  • Dianthus superbus Olivia 9cm pot

    A tufted perennial with mid-green leaves. High-contrast white flowers with a ruby-coloured ring. Height 60cm. Spread 23cm.

  • Draba aizoides 9cm pot

    Yellow Whitlow Grass. A cushion of dark green rosettes with dense clusters of bright yellow flowers. Height 10cm. Spread 25cm. Flowers from March to April. Semi-evergreen. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Echeveria Black Knight 9cm pot

    The darkest succulent with dark red/black foliage. Small scarlet flower in late season, Sept/Oct. Drought tolerant. Suitable for containers or screened gardens. Height 15cm, plant 15-22cm apart for good spread. Slow growing.

  • Echeveria Blue Flatter Leaves 9cm pot

    A good form of the increasingly popular carpet bedding plants. Steely grey-blue succulent foliage with bronze tinges and vibrant orange flowers in summer. Prefers full sun or partial shade with free-draining soil or compost.

  • Echeveria Curly Locks 9cm pot

    Flowering succulent that grows in flower-like rosette shapes. One of the most unique and showy varieties, Echeveria 'Curly Locks' has wavy blue-green leaves tinged with pink.

  • Echeveria Duchess of Nuremberg 9cm pot

    Beautiful pink, succulent rosettes which produce interesting flowering bracts in spring and summer.Prefers full sun, or partial shade with moist soil or compost.

  • Echeveria Gilva Red 9cm pot

    Dense rosettes, clumping, fleshy reddish leaves.

  • Echeveria imbricata 9cm pot

    Popular and vigorous succulent, up to 8 inches (20cm) wide, with tight rosettes of flat grey-green leaves that, when mature, form offsets freely to form large solid clumps up to 6 inches (15cm) tall.

  • Echeveria runyonii Topsy Turvey 9cm pot

    Perennial evergreen succulent. Clump forming producing freely offsets. Grey/green spatulate leaves. 8-12" across, 6-12" high. Fast growing. Restrict water in winter months. Good for container or scree garden.

  • Erodium x variabile Album 9cm pot

    Heron's Bill. Stork's Bill. A pretty mat-forming alpine of green foliage. Umbels of saucer-shaped white flowers. Height 5cm. Spread 20cm. Flowers from June to September. Evergreen. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Erodium x variabile Bishop's Form 9cm pot

    Heron's Bill. Stork's Bill. A pretty mat-forming alpine of green foliage. Umbels of saucer-shaped dark pink flowers. Height 5cm. Spread 20cm. Flowers from June to September. Evergreen. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Erodium x variabile Bishop's White 9cm pot

    Heron's Bill. Stork's Bill. A pretty mat-forming alpine of green foliage. Umbels of saucer-shaped white flowers. Height 5cm. Spread 20cm. Flowers from June to September. Evergreen. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Erodium x variabile Roseum 9cm pot

    Heron's Bill. Stork's Bill. A pretty mat-forming alpine of green foliage. Umbels of saucer-shaped pink flowers. Height 5cm. Spread 20cm. Flowers from June to September. Evergreen. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Euphorbia myrsinites 9cm pot

    A semi-prostrate perennial with close-set leaves spiralling from base to tip. Leaves are fleshy bright blue-green. Flowers with vivid yellow bracts. Height 30cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from April to July. Evergreen. Hardy. Harmful if eaten/skin + eye irritant.

  • Faucaria tuberculosa 9cm pot

    Pebbled Tiger Jaws, is a clump-forming, perennial succulent native to the Cape Province of South Africa. Dark green leaves are ovate-triangular in the top view and will reach 1 inch (2.5 cm) long by 0.75 inches (2 cm) wide. The upper side is covered in white tubercles, the margins with small white dots. Yellow flowers late spring early summer. Greenhouse or conservatory. Plants are very easy to grow.

  • Gypsophila cerastioides 9cm pot

    Tufted to small matt forming perennial. Lush green obovate leaves. Clusters of white flowers, with purple veins radiating from the centre, late spring to summer. Good ground cover.

  • Gypsophila repens Filou White 9cm pot

    A loose mat-forming perennial producing small bright white flowers over blue-green foliage.

  • Helianthemum nummularium Lawrenson's Pink 9cm pot

    Rock Rose. Sun Rose. A spreading shrub with grey-green leaves and saucer-shaped pink flowers. Height 5cm. Spread 25cm. Flowers from May to July. Evergreen.

  • Helianthemum nummularium Queen Cerise 9cm pot

    Rock Rose. Sun Rose. A spreading shrub with dark green leaves and saucer-shaped. Very bright pink double flowers with yellow centres. Height 20cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from April to September. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Helianthemum nummularium Queen Golden 9cm pot

    This has yellow flowers. The flowers fade to whiter tones as it matures and foliage is mid green. Height 86cm. Spread 60cm. Hardy

  • Helianthemum Pink Angel 9cm pot

    A charming little rock-rose with loosely double flowers in a strong sugar pink, darkening to red around a yellow centre.

  • Helianthemum The Bride 9cm pot

    Rock Rose. Sun Rose. A spreading shrub with soft grey leaves and saucer-shaped. Pure white flowers. Height 15cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from May to July. Evergreen.

  • Helianthemum Wisley Primrose 9cm pot

    Rock Rose. Sun Rose. A spreading shrub with grey-green leaves and saucer-shaped pale primrose yellow flowers with deep golden yellow centres. Height 30cm. Spread 45cm. Flowers from May to July. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Hypsela reniformis 9cm pot

    A creeping alpine with fleshy bright mid-green leaves and almost stemless white to pale pink flowers with crimson veins from late spring to summer. Height 2cm. Flowers from May to July. Herbaceous. Hardy.

  • Iberis sepervirens Masterpiece 9cm pot

    Spreading sub-shrub with dark green shiny evergreen foliage and mildly scented dense flower heads in late Spring to early Summer. Flat clusters of white flowers with small pink centres.

  • Isotoma auxilaris Fairy Carpet 9cm

    Fairy Footsteps. Blue flowers smother the frond-like foliage. Bushy compact low growing habit. A great alpine for between paving or for ground cover.

  • Kalanchoe thyrsiflora Bronze Sculpture 1L pot

    A simply beautiful sculpture plant with matt green succulent leaves which blush to burgundy towards the margins. Ideal Conditions: Prefers full sun, or partial shade with moist soil or compost. Possible Situation: Perfectly suited for planting in gravel gardens, paved areas, rockeries and small containers. Try mixing with other succulents and alpines.

  • Lamium Pink Chablis 9cm pot

    Crenate, silvery white leaves with green margins that carry clusters of hooded pink flowers, which appear at the stem terminals in late spring to early summer. Evergreen. Good in shade. Also great for winter tubs and baskets.

  • Lampranthus Orange 9cm pot

    Perennial mesembryanthemum. Prostrate succulent with narrow blue green leaves. Hardy in a sheltered garden. A good alpine or rockery plant. Very pretty orange flowers. Height 20cm. Prefers full sun and well drained or dry soil. Protect from hard frosts.

  • Lampranthus Pink 9cm pot

    Perennial mesembryanthemum. Prostrate succulent with narrow blue green leaves. Hardy in a sheltered garden. A good alpine or rockery plant. Very orange flowers. Height 20cm. Prefers full sun and well drained or dry soil. Protect from hard frosts.

  • Leontopodium alpinum 9cm pot

    A clump-forming alpine with narrow grey-green basal leaves and yellowish white flowers surrounded by silver-grey bracts. Height 20cm. Spread 10cm. Flowers from April to May. Herbaceous. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Lewisia cotyledon Elise 9cm pot

    A choice alpine forming a flat rosette of fleshy, dark green leaves and clusters white flowers. Height 30cm. Spread 25cm. Flowers from May to August. Evergreen. Hardy. Protect from winter wet. Lewisia 'Elise Mixed' flowers in its first year.

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