Accustomed to harsh climates and rocky grounds, alpine plants can thrive in green spaces only when certain conditions are met. Consequently, to grow them in one’s garden, it is essential to recreate the mountainous environment to which they are naturally exposed. Undemanding in terms of maintenance, alpine plants require minimal care after planting.

Thanks to their great ability to adapt to dry and rocky spoils, alpine plants often evoke rock garden plants. Somewhat overlooked, they are almost never cultivated in gardens because of the particular growing conditions they require. Indeed, alpine plants grow much better in a mountainous environment where the altitude, sun exposure and soil type directly affect their growing cycle. However, growing alpine plants outside their usual environment is not impossible, provided of course they are given everything they need in order to grow and thrive. For best results, it will be necessary to skilfully mix alpine plants and rock garden plants to create the impression of a mountainous environment. Thus, to obtain an even more spectacular, you can combine species with dwarf bearings such as echeveria, houseleeks or cinquefoil to slightly larger varieties, such as Alpine columbine, Edelweiss or Alpine fleabane. If you want to add some colour to your alpine garden, you can also opt for ornamental flowering plants such as Alpine Catchfly, Aubrieta or Belladonna lily. Anyway, always favour species of more or less low size, knowing that alpine plants imperatively need to capture the soil’s warmth to thrive. Similarly, choose hardy plants that do not fear the frost or excessive heat as these two conditions are often fatal to many alpine plants.

How to create a rock garden?

Your alpine plants will only be able to grow if they are planted on rocky ground strewn with stones of various sizes and small pebbles. If you want to get as close as possible to a traditional mountain environment, you can choose to create a sloped rock garden. However, if you only have a flat plot of land, choose a dry and clear area where you will arrange some stone blocks of varying shapes and sizes. When you select your stones, opt for limestone because of its good resistance to frost. For a more aesthetic effect, it is essential to play on volumes and shapes while arranging the stones. After laying them down, make sure they are stable and well attached to the ground. To complete your rockery, you can cover the ground with layers of small pebbles and gravel, of which the appearance evokes arid mountainous terrain. If you only have a small space and you cannot create a bed of alpine plants, know that your plants grow equally well on low walls and on dry stone walls.

Required growing conditions for alpine plants

To grow well, your alpine plants will inevitably need to be planted as far as possible from your garden’s trees. This is due to the fact that they are non-existent in the alpine plants’ natural environment and as such can only hinder their development. In addition, it is essential to select a suitable substrate because it is always necessary for the earth to be dry, light and amended in order to be well-drained. To obtain a soil ideal to your plants’ development, mix earth, some universal potting soil and sand. In terms of sun exposure, alpine plants will need to be planted in a bright and well lit area that remains sheltered from the summer’s intense heat. When you put themin the ground, it will be useless to dig big holes, knowing that their roots never go very deep. With regard to plants grown from seed, make sure to keep them well in the cold before definitely planting them in order to recreate good winter conditions necessary to the young seedlings’ growth. After being planted, your alpine plants will rarely be watered and only when the earth is dry. Although these plants fear excess moisture, they should be watered a bit more in the summer for the earth not to be completely dry. Finally, know that alpine plants are hardy and naturally accustomed to extreme weather conditions. Thus, this aptitude allows them to better withstand the cold. To keep them healthy and beautiful throughout the year, simply uproot weeds and prevent the plants from being exposed to too much moisture.

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Published in Specific by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011