Flowering Rockroses

    • Azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons can be pruned now without sacrificing next years bloom. Ask at your nursery if you need help.
    • When you finish cutting asparagus, feed the bed with good, rich compost that will also act as a mulch this summer.
    • Cover cherry trees with bird netting to protect your crop.
    • Finish planting the summer vegetable garden. Seeds of early corn, and beans can go directly in the soil and plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash, cucumbers and basil can be set out.
    • Red, white and blue petunias or combinations of these with lobelia, geraniums, impatiens and salvia will make a nice display for the Fourth of July.

Tough, Colorful Rockroses

Well-known for their showy spring flowers, rockroses are sun-loving, fast-growing, drought-resistant shrubs that are tolerant of poor, dry soil. They are ideal plants for informal plantings, rocky hillsides or along country driveways.

Since rockroses grow wide, they are at their best where they are not confined to small areas. Use them on hot dry banks, tumbling over rocks, or in a planting of drought resistant shrubs. Given plenty of room, they are beautiful, picturesque shrubs.

Rockroses, or Cistus, are Mediterranean natives that have a long flowering season in late spring. Scattered flowers begin to appear in April; by the end of May the plants are covered with large petaled single flowers; then the blooms taper off through June.

The flowers drop their petals when they fade, so they don’t leave brown, dead flowers on the plant.

Rockrose flowers come in white, pink and lavender-rose, a very striking color. Some plants will grow only thirty inches tall while others reach four to five feet with little effort. Another genus, Halimium, are called yellow rockroses, and they have showy flowers as well.

It is important to choose a variety which will fit the site chosen as rockroses resent severe pruning. Prune only to protect a path from encroachment or to eliminate dead wood or occasional lopsided growth.

Rockroses keep their leaves throughout the year, and are effective at preventing erosion on banks and suppressing weeds underneath them. They are drought tolerant, thrive in rocky soil, and are generally deer-resistant. They also make a pleasant background for flowering bulbs.

There are two requirements for growing rockroses: good drainage and very little summer water. They will often appear at first to respond to frequent irrigation, but the excess water greatly increases the chance of die-back, induces lanky growth and shortens the life of the plants. Plants grown in more natural settings may live for 20 years or more.

Plant rockroses in full sun and add a little lime at planting time. Irrigate deeply and infrequently for the first season. By the second year, most plants can survive without water.

These are truly carefree plants that will delight you every spring with their showy flowers.

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