June hails the start of a steady stream of beautiful papery cistus, or rock rose, flowers – if healthy, these plants will tumble forth with a profusion of intricate blooms, each one lasting just a day. It’s fascinating to examine their poppy-like petals, crumpled up and extremely delicate looking.
And yet the shrubs themselves are really rather tough, originating from dry, sunny Mediterranean areas, evergreen and hardy through most of the UK. It’s their drought tolerance that shows the extent of their robustness though, coping with dusty, dry conditions, harsh sun and salty, coastal gardens.
Cistus tolerates poor soils and good soils, but isn’t keen on chalky soils. They need extremely well-drained compost and lots of sun. Try them in a rockery but be sure to plant it now, so it gets settled in before autumn. They need minimal pruning, just trimming off dead flowers and dead foliage.
Five rock roses to try
1) C. albidus – Large bright pink jagged flowers with yellow stamens. Height and spread: 1m x 1m.
2) C. ‘Prostratus’ – Small, white saucer shaped flowers, like fried eggs with yellow centres. Height and spread: 45cm x 90cm.
3) C. purpureus – Dark pink flowers attractively splashed with maroon splodges. Height and spread: 1m x 1m.
4) C. ‘Silver Pink’ – A free-flowering profusion of baby pink-white blooms. Height and spread: 90cm x 90cm.
5) C. ‘Decumbens’ – Large pure white flowers with deep maroon central splashes. Height and spread: 1m x 1m.