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

  • 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. Flowers from May to June. Herbaceous. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Lewisia longipetala Peach 9cm pot

    A choice dwarf alpine forming a tuft of narrow, dark green leaves and star-shaped peach flowers. Height 10cm. Spread 10cm. Flowers from May to June. Herbaceous. Hardy. Protect from winter wet.

  • Lithodora Alpine Blue Star 9cm pot

    'Blue Star' is a low sprawling evergreen shrub bearing small, green leaves and abundant small, bright blue flowers that are edged in white from spring to summer.

  • Lithodora diffusa Alba 9cm pot

    A prostrate evergreen shrub with narrow. hairy green leaves and clusters of white starry flowers. Height 15cm. Spread 60cm. Flowers from May to August. Evergreen. Hardy. Planting instructions add peat to the planting hole.

  • Lychnis alpina Magenta 9cm pot

    Alpine Campion. Perennial with sticky stems, grass like foliage and dense terminal clusters of tufted, dark pink flowers in late spring. Flowers from June to August. Herbaceous.

  • Mazus reptans Albus 9cm pot

    A mat-forming alpine with toothed leaves and pretty white flowers. Height 5cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from May to August. Semi-Evgn. Frost hardy. Sheltered site.

  • Orostrachys Chinese Hat 9cm pot

    Rosettes of very pale grey leaves. In late summer and autumn, 5-10cm pale yellow flower spikes poke up from the rosettes forming cone shapes that resemble a Chinese hat. Flowering Time: April- May. Excellent for borders. Prefers full sun with free-draining soil or compost.

  • Pachyphytum bracteosum 9cm pot

    Large succulent lobes which resemble a cluster of shiny white pebbles. Prefers full sun, or partial shade with moist soil or compost.

  • Parahebe Avalanche 9cm pot

    Bred in New Zealand this close relative to Hebe is a compact mound of waxy dark green toothed foliage, larger than other Parahebe, smothered with white flowers that have a pink-purple centre from May to the first frost.

  • Parahebe catarractae Snow Clouds 9cm pot

    A spreading subshrub with dark green leaves tinged with purple when young. White flowers veined mauve. Height 30cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from June to August. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • 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 douglasii Crackerjack 9cm pot

    A mound-forming alpine with narrow dark green leaves and reddish magenta-pink flowers with a dark eye. Height 5cm. Spread 20cm. Flowers from May to June. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Phlox douglasii Red Admiral 9cm pot

    A mound-forming alpine with narrow dark green leaves and red flowers. Height 8cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from May to June. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Phlox Emerald Cushion Blue 9cm pot

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

  • Phlox subulata Kimono 9cm pot

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

  • Potentilla calabra 9cm pot

    Cinquefoil. A clump-forming perennial with silvery grey. hairy leaves. Clusters of small golden yellow flowers from late spring to summer. Height 30cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from June to August. Herbaceous. Hardy. Planting instructions Back-fill with soil mixed with peat and a suitable fertiliser.

  • Pratia pendunculata Alba 9cm pot

    The low growing evergreen lends itself to border edges or large containers where it is allowed to creep. Resilience. Hardy. Spreading habit. Height 3cm. Spread/Trail 45cm. White flowers May to September.

  • 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.

  • Rhodohypoxis Confecta 9cm pot

    Confecta is a vigorous, clump-forming, herbaceous perennial, tufts of narrowly lance-shaped, hairy, dark green leaves. In late spring and early summer, slender, erect stems bearing large, solitary, mid-pink flowers, sometimes white or red-flushed, usually changing colour with age. Height 15cm.

  • Rhodohypoxis Dawn 9cm pot

    A delightfully delicate herbaceous beauty. Sturdy, dark green swards will emerge from corms in spring and will bear solitary, pale-pink flowers that fade to near white with maturity.

  • Saponaria ocymoides Alba 9cm pot

    Tumbling Ted. A mat-forming alpine with bright green leaves. Loose clusters of white flowers in summer. Height 18cm. Spread 15cm. Flowers from June to August. Herbaceous. Hardy.

  • Saponaria ocymoides Rose 9cm pot

    Tumbling Ted. A mat-forming alpine with bright green leaves. Loose clusters of pink flowers in summer. Height 8cm. Spread 45cm. Flowers from June to August. Herbaceous. Hardy.

  • Saxifraga Limerock 9cm pot

    With very large white flowers this variety is outstanding from other Saxifraga. Masses of flower cover for a long lasting period. A thankful plant in each consumers garden.

  • Saxifraga pensylvanica Peter Pan 9cm pot

    Saxifrage. A cushion-forming mossy saxifrage with soft rosettes of bright green leaves. Crimson stems carry clear pink flowers in late spring. Height 5cm. Spread 30cm. Flowers from April to May. Evergreen. Hardy.

  • Saxifraga Triumph 9cm pot

    Saxifrage. Rose pink flowers on large dark green rosettes. Prefers full sun, or partial shade with free-draining, ordinary, or chalky soil or compost.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Carpet Pink 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with pink rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Carpet Purple 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with purple rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Carpet Purple Robe 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with purple rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Carpet White 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with white rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Marto Hot Rose 9cm pot

    Mat forming evergreen perennial alpine with a compact growth habit. It has bright green lance shaped leaves in small clusters which together create a spiky mound of foliage. In late spring it bears beautiful eye catching star shaped flowers in bright hues of pinks and magentas held aloft on slender stems.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Rockies 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with red rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Rockies F1 Red 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with red rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii Rockies F1 White 9cm pot

    Excellent ground cover for rockeries. A mat-forming saxifrage with white rosettes. Flowers in Spring. Height 20cm.

  • Saxifraga x urbium 9cm pot

    Gymnopera saxifrage. Evergreen. Low groundcover. Good in poor soils. Whorls of waxy leaves under delicate sprays of tiny flowers.

  • Scutellaria Sherbet Lemon 9cm pot

    Mound-forming, bushy, mat of tough, green toothed foliage which forms an excellent foil for its crowded clusters of pastel yellow Snapdragon-like flowers. Prefers full sun or partial shade with free-draining soil or compost.

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