Cistus Ground Cover

Cistus (Rock Rose, Sun Rose)
These small evergreen shrubs thrive in difficult dry areas including chalk and coastal if the site is well drained and in full sun. During the summer months they will produce a succession of attractive saucer shaped flowers. Trim lightly after flowering to maintain compact plants. All grow to approx 90cm and will make excellent ground cover or a low informal hedge. (Trim after flowering).

Cistus shrubs originate from dry, rocky parts of the Mediterranean and Canary Islands and so are drought-tolerant and very low maintenance evergreen plants. Wonderful in a rockery, you could also try this rounded, sun-loving, rock rose towards the front of a sheltered, sunny, well-drained border, or in a container. Try planting with Lavender, Perovskia or with grasses and Yucca.

With woody stems and silvery-grey or green leaves, Cistus (Rock Rose) produce masses of flowers in midsummer with each flower lasting only one day – but you won’t mind this as their non-stop production of the lovely tissue paper flowers means you don’t even notice! They are irresistible with their dry, woody, resinous fragrance, making you think of summer holidays in the Mediterranean.

Happiest in full sun, Cistus prefers free-draining soil and will perform well in poor, stony ground.  Avoid planting in heavy, wet or overly fertile soils or where they sit in frost pockets or strong winds, as these can damage these shallow-rooted plants. Perfect ground cover, it will tolerate chalky soil and salty air. Best planted in Spring when the warm soil helps the roots establish swiftly, however if planting in Summer, water regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Young plants respond well to pruning but do not like to be pruned once established so this should generally be limited to the removal of any dead or frost-damaged growth in Spring.

As a rough guide when planting Cistus as ground cover – 4 plants per square metre is adequate with a little patience, 6 will give better coverage, and 9-12 will make a weed supressing carpet very quickly.
How to grow Cistus
Position: Sunny and sheltered

Foliage: Evergreen, leaves persist all year

Soil and site: Dry, stony or chalky, free draining

Flowering time: Mid-Summer

Growth rate: Moderate

Ultimate height and spread: Between 50cm and 200cm, with a spread similar to their ultimate height depending on variety

Hardiness: Fully hardy

Aftercare: Water well until established, avoiding soil becoming waterlogged. Minimal maintenance is required after they are well established and rooted beyond the removal of any dead branches.