Plants That Will Grow in Rocky Soil

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Gardeners with rocky soil have unique challenges in finding plants that will grow successfully. Many native species have adapted to the soil characteristics of rocky soil. Plants that will grow well in rocky soil have shallow root systems. The soil is very dry and shallow and will grow plants that require little moisture. Mulching the soil with organic fertiliser can improve your success rate for growing plants in rocky soil.

Prickly Pear Cactus

flowering prickly pear cactus image by Kathy Burns from

The prickly pear cactus, also known as the sandburr cactus, is well adapted to growth in rocky soil and requires little moisture. It bears flowers in May and June that can vary in colour but are often yellow, pink, red or orange. The plant has loosely attached stems that vary in shape and size. These plants are often found growing on the surface of rocks.


bellflower Campanula herminii, in the Spanish mountains image by Lars Lachmann from

A common species of bellflower is the creeping bellflower. This plant produces flowers with five lobes and is star-shaped. The female reproductive organs of the flower, called carpels, extend out to the end of the flower. This plant grows well in mountain soils with little moisture.


Bearberry is an evergreen plant, called kinnickinic by Native Americans. The plant has leathery leaves which are resistant to water loss. It can be found in the middle Atlantic States, California and Alaska. The bearberry is a low-growing shrubs with leaves about one inch in diameter. It produces waxy white and pink flowers, which normally appear in May. The bearberry produces small, round, red fruits.


The leadplant is a low-growing perennial shrub that grows well in mountain soils. It has erect stems and produces small leaves varying in length from 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Leadplants produce blue flowers and a small legume fruit about 1/8 inch in length. Native Americans once used the leaves of this plant to smoke in pipes and to make tea. They also thought the plant useful in treating rheumatism and neuralgia.


The Juneberry is a large shrub that can be trained to grow into a small tree. It can grow up to 18 to 20 feet in height. This is an extremely adaptable plant that will grow well in a variety of climatic and soil conditions. The plants are cold tolerant and need very little moisture. The Juneberry grows best in full sunlight but will also tolerate shady conditions. It has medium to dark green leaves that turn shades of yellow, orange and red during the fall. This plant has white, fragrant blossoms and produces a berrylike fruit that is edible.

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