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

  • Lampranthus Pink 9cm pot

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

  • Lewisia longipetala Little Plum 9cm pot

    A choice dwarf alpine forming a tuft of narrow. dark green leaves and star-shaped magenta flowers. Height 10cm. Spread 10cm. Flower colour White. Pink. Flowers from May to June. Herbaceous. Foliage colour Green. Hardy. Protect from winter wet. Planting instructions Water thoroughly before planting.

  • Lewisia Sunset Strain 9cm pot

    A choice alpine forming a rosette of fleshy. dark green leaves and red flowers. Height 10cm. Spread 10cm. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Lindemaria grandiflora 9cm pot

    A small herbaceous alpine with small lobelia type floe=wersm from spring to autumn 10-20cm high

  • Lithodora Heavenly Blue 9cm pot

    A prostrate evergreen shrub with narrow hairy green leaves and clusters of deep azure-blue starry flowers. Height 15cm. Spread 60cm. Flowers from May to August. Evergreen. Hardy Peaty soil.

  • Lychnis alpina 9cm pot

    Alpine Campion. Alpine 1. A dwarf tufted perennial with rosettes of dark green leaves and rounded clusters of purplish pink flowers. Height 15cm. Spread 15cm. . Flowers from June to August. Herbaceous.

  • Mazus reptans purple 9cm pot

    A mat-forming alpine with toothed leaves and pretty purple-blue flowers with yellow and red spots. Height 5cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from May to August. Semi-Evgn. Frost hardy. Sheltered Site.

  • Parahebe Porlock 1L pot

    A very easy, low, almost shrubby plant that will produce a huge quantity of flowers summer. The small flowers of lilac-blue are beautifully marked with cerise-purple. Evergreen. About 25cm (10") high.

  • Parahebe Porlock 9cm pot

    A very easy, low, almost shrubby plant that will produce a huge quantity of flowers summer. The small flowers of lilac-blue are beautifully marked with cerise-purple. Evergreen. About 25cm (10") high.

  • Phlox Snowflake 9cm pot

    The pure white blooms of the Snowflake Phlox stand out from the dark mat of its evergreen foliage to make a striking border. Tolerant of many types of soil. It grows best in areas that receive full sun to partial shade to produce its thick carpet of blooms in mid-spring.

  • Phlox subulata candy stripes 9cm pot

    Moss Phlox. A mat-forming alpine with narrow bright green leaves and white striped pink flowers. Height 10cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from May to June. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Phlox subulata Lilac Cloud 9cm pot

    A mat-forming alpine with narrow bright green leaves and lilac flowers. Height 10cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from May to June. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Pratia pendunculata Country Park 9cm pot

    An evergreen mat-forming alpine with pretty. star-shaped sky blue flowers in summer. Height 3cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from June to August. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Primula bullesiana 9cm pot

    Candelabra Primrose. A perennial with large green leaves. Stout stems with tiers of flowers in late spring and early summer. Mixed colours.. Height 40cm. Flowers from May to June. Herbaceous. Hardy.

  • Primula capitana nerverna Deep Blue 9cm pot

    A perennial with small rosettes of green leaves covered in deep blue farinose. Small deep violet bell-shaped flowers in rounded flatened heads on short stout stems from mid to late summer. Height 20-30cm. Spread 15-20cm. Flower colour Violet. Flowers from July to August. Semi-Evgn. Foliage colour Green. White. Hardy. Planting instructions Water thoroughly before planting.

  • Primula denticulata white 9cm pot

    Drumstick Primula. A perennial with rosettes of mid-green leaves. Stout stems of rounded. white flowers in spring. Height 45cm. Spread 45cm. Flowers from April to May. Herbaceous.

  • Primula Late Romantic 9cm pot

    Late Romantic has short stalks of pale peach, rose-like blooms with delicate scent, flowering in late May and repeating late summer.

  • Primula rosea Grandiflora 9cm pot

    A perennial with rosettes of mid-green leaves. often bronze-flushed. Clusters of large rose-pink flowers in early spring. Height 20cm. Spread 15-20cm. Flowers from March to April. Herbaceous.

  • Primula Veris 9cm pot

    Cowslip. A native perennial with rosettes of mid-green leaves. Stout stems bear clusters of nodding pale to deep yellow. fragrant flowers in spring. Height 10-20cm. Spread 15-20cm. Flowers from April to May. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Rhodanthemum Pretty in Pink (VR) 9cm pot

    This is the best pink coloured variety to date. A multitude of rich deep pink flowers on silvery green foliage. Ideal Conditions: Prefers full sun with free draining, but moist soil or compost. Possible Situation: Very suitable for the bowl on the patio, or in the bed or border. Resilience: Hardy

  • Saxifraga correvensis 9cm pot

    Pretty encrusted rossettes which have pure white flowers in clusters on slender stems. The silver foliage looks attractive all year round.

  • Saxifraga cuneifolia variegata 9cm pot

    Saxifrage. A mat-forming saxifrage with fleshy rosettes of deep green variegated leaves. Clusters of creamy white flowers from late winter to early spring. Height 8cm. Spread 20cm. . Flowers from February to April. Evergree

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Harderzwerg 9cm pot

    A compact clump of evergreen, soft green leaves. In mid spring come out short stems with rich carmine red flowers. The plant grows slowly, spreading to sides.

  • Sedum acre 9cm pot

    Biting Stonecrop. A mat-forming alpine with stems densely clothed in pale green leaves. Star-shaped yellow-green flowers in summer. Height 5cm. Spread 60cm. Flower colour Yellow. Green. Flowers from June to August. Evergreen. Foliage colour Green. Hardy. Planting instructions Water thoroughly before planting.

  • Sedum coccineum 9cm pot

    Stonecrop. An alpine with green/bronze foliage and bright rose flowers. Robust growth.

  • Sedum Czarsgold 9cm pot

    A low, mat-forming, evergreen perennial with fleshly, scalloped green leaves. In late-spring it bears masses of yellow flowers that rebloom again in late summer.

  • Sedum dasyphyllum 9cm pot

    Stonecrop. An alpine with wiry stems of grey-blue leaves. Small clusters of pink or white flowers in early summer. Height 5cm. Spread 20cm. Flower colour pink with white centers. Flowers from June to July. Herbaceous. Foliage colour Grey. Blue. Hardy. Planting instructions Water thoroughly before planting.

  • Sedum rupestre Chocolate Ball 9cm pot

    Very attractive, chocolate brown - red foliage which contrasts wonderfully with its orange-yellow flowers. Hardy, drought tolerant, low growing variety perfect for rockeries and spilling out of containers. Growing Conditions: Full Sun To Part Shade. Flowering Period: July to September

  • Sedum spathulifolium cape blanco 9cm pot

    Stonecrop. A mat-forming alpine with rosettes of silver-grey leaves. Clusters of star-shaped. bright yellow flowers in summer. Height 10cm. Spread 60cm. Flowers from June to August. Evergreen.

  • Sedum Spurium Dragons Blood 9cm pot

    A mat-forming alpine with red stems of toothed mid-green leaves. purple-tinted when mature. Clusters of star-shaped deep pink flowers in late summer. Height 10cm. Spread 60cm. Flower colour Pink. Flowers from August to September. Evergreen. Foliage colour Green. Purple. Hardy. Planting instructions Water thoroughly before planting.

  • Sempervivum 9cm pot

    Sempervivum, is a genus of about 40 species of flowering plants in the Crassulaceae family, known as houseleeks. Other common names include liveforever and hen and chicks.

  • Sempervivum Mixed 9cm pot

    Houseleek. A rosette-forming alpine with succulent rosettes of deep purple-red leaves. Produces greenish red flowers in summer. Height 10cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from June to August. Evergreen.

  • Sisyrinchium bellum 9cm pot

    A clump-forming perennial with grass-like foliage. Upright stems of pretty iris-like blue to violet-blue flowers in summer. Height 12cm. Spread 15cm. Flowers from June to August. Semi-Evgn. Hardy. Self seeds.

  • Trichodiadema densum 9cm pot

    Small and compact, mat forming perennial succulent which readily produces abundant attractive vivid pink to magenta-carmine flowers in early spring.

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