How to Take Care of Rock Rose Plants


Rock rose, also known by its Latin name, Cistus, is a perennial shrub prized for its ornamental flowers, compact growth habit and ease of care. The plant blooms during summer, producing numerous pink flowers about 2 inches in diameter. Due to the plant's tolerance of rocky soils and hot temperatures, rock rose thrives in rock gardens and sunny hillsides where other plants may fail. Native to the Mediterranean, rock rose plants require a hot, sunny climate to thrive, but grow easily in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10 with only minimal care.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Garden spade
  • Gravel mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Plant rock rose during mid-spring in a location that receives full sunlight and consists of well-drained, rich, moist soil. Spread a 1-inch layer of weed-free compost over the planting site and use a garden spade to work the material into the soil before planting. Space rock rose plants at least 2 to 4 feet apart.

  • Apply a 2-inch layer of gravel mulch over the soil surrounding rock rose plants to provide extra insulation against the weather, improve moisture retention and prevent the growth of weeds. Begin the layer about 3 inches from the base of the plants to allow air circulation.

  • Water plants once every seven days during the first season of growth to help establish the planting. Reduce the watering frequency thereafter to once every 10 to 14 days, or whenever the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.

  • Feed rock rose plants once per year during early spring, just as active growth resumes. Use an all-purpose 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer following the manufacturer's instructions for the best results. Water thoroughly immediately after feeding.

  • Prune once per year during early spring to encourage branching and increase the plant's overall health. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased limbs and cut back any overgrown branches. Pinch off any faded or dead flowers as soon as possible to encourage re-blooming.

Tips & Warnings

  • While gravel mulch is ideal for rock rose plants, wood chips also suffice.
  • Grow rock rose plants in a container in zones above 8 and transfer indoors when temperatures drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Reduce the severity of pruning when plants reach three years of age, as they are not able to recover as quickly as new plantings.

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  • Photo Credit cistus image by Alison Bowden from
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