Cistus (Rockrose)

If you’re looking for a tough shrub that thrives on neglect, try rockrose plants (Cistus). This fast-growing evergreen shrub stands up to heat, strong winds, salt spray and drought without complaint, and once established it needs very little care.

What is Rockrose? Native to the Mediterranean, rockrose plants have soft green foliage that varies in shape depending on the species. Large, fragrant flowers bloom for about a month in late spring and early summer. Each blossom lasts only a day, and may be pink, rose, yellow or white, depending on the species. Use rockrose shrubs in dry areas or in coastal areas where they tolerate sandy soil, salt spray and strong winds. These 1-1.5m shrubs make an attractive, informal hedgerow. Rockrose plants are particularly useful for erosion control on dry banks.

Nothing could be easier than growing rockrose. Plant the shrubs in a location with full sun and deep soil where they can put down spreading roots. They grow in almost any type of soil as long as it drains freely, including poor soils where other shrubs struggle to take hold. They are also frost hardy and wind tolerant.

Water rockrose plants regularly during their first growing season. Once established, they never need watering or fertilization. They resent heavy pruning, so it’s best to limit routine trimming to the minimum necessary to repair winter damage and correct the shape. As the branches age, they become weak and stop bearing flowers. Remove older branches by cutting them away at the base. Prune soon after the flowers fade to preserve the buds that will form next year’s flowers.