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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crevice Plants

Dwarf forms of many rock garden plants make wonderful crevice plants.  Crevices are those intriguing gaps between rocks where plants can grow while seeming to defy all odds.  In rock gardens, we often intentionally create small spaces between rocks in which to tuck our plant treasures.  Alpines and other rock garden plants are ideally suited to grow in these spaces as they often do in nature.


Creeping thyme and other mat forming perennials were tucked in the crevices between the rocks of this water feature where they could spill over the rocks and enhance the naturalistic feel of the garden.

This small crevice garden was built with mounded well-drained soil in which we placed rows of thin, flat rocks pitched almost vertically to create planting crevices and niches. It is planted with alpines and other small plants including Sempervivum 'Spumanti', Draba sp., Alpine Toadflax (Linaria alpina), Greek Yarrow (Achillea ageratifolia), Lewisia pygmaea, Sedum hispanicum and Jovibarba hirta.

The red succulent rosettes of these Jovibarba heuffelli have grown to fill the narrow space between two rocks.  


The small Androsace brigantiaca which might be easily overrun by larger plants and is instead featured when planted in this narrow crevice .

Mat forming plants such as Azorella trifurcata 'Nana' creep down vertical spaces between rocks, stabilizing the soil on the steep slopes.

The green cushion forming Scleranthus uniflorus was intentionally planted in the crevice while the white flowering Androsace septentrionalis is a volunteer, creating an attractive combination.  Seeds naturally lodge in crevices and young plants are nurtured where rocks and soil meet.


This Sandia Mountain Heuchera (Heuchera pulchella) is striking in the crevice between two rocks.  When creating a rock garden, rocks are sometimes intentionally split to create a planting crevice. 


Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum sp) adapt well to crevice plantings and are sometimes planted alongside more delicate plants to provide shelter and help prevent soil erosion until the smaller plant is fully established.

Greek native Pterocephalus perennis grows happily among the rocks, creeping into the narrow crevice at front.

Pyrenean Saxifrage hybrid (Saxifraga x longifolia) grows in a narrow fissure between rocks.  The name Saxifraga means "rock breaker" in Latin and Saxifrages often grow in crevices in their native alpine habitats. 

Keep in mind that it is important to take into account the scale of the garden when selecting plants.  Large plants will quickly overwhelm a large space while small plants can easily get lost.

The following is a list of examples of plants that will work well in crevice plantings.  Plants that tolerate drought and a more sunny, exposed location are marked with an asterisk.

Achillea ageratifolia* - Greek Yarrow
Aethionema schistosum* - Persian Rockcress
Alyssum saxatilis*
Androsace sarmentosa
Antennaria media* - Pussytoes
Aquilegia jonesii – Columbine
Arenaria alfacarens* - Sandwort
Armeria sp* - Thrift
Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Laceratum Kaye’
Azorella trifurcata
Campanula sp - Alpine bellflowers
Cerastium alpinum ssp lanatum* - Alpine Mouse Ears
Chiastophyllum oppostifolium
Delosperma sp – Hardy Iceplant
Dianthus sp * - Rock garden pinks
Draba sp
Dudleya calcicola *
Erinus alpinus – Fairy Foxglove
Eriogonum sp (smaller) * - Buckwheat
Gypsophila aretoides *
Heuchera pulchella
Heuchera abramsii
Heuchera rubescens
Jovibarba sp *
Lewisia sp *
Linaria alpina,
Penstemon (smaller mat formers) *
Petrophytum caespitosum – Rock Spirea
Petropyhtum cinarescens
Primula saxatilis – Rock Primula
Raoulia australis
Saponaria – Soapwort
Silver and cushion Saxifrages
Scleranthus uniflorus
Sedum sp (smaller)*
Sempervivum sp* - Hens and Chicks
Silene acaulis – Moss Campion
Silene petersonii* - Peterson’s Catchfly
Telesonix jamesii
Thymus neiceffi and other creeping thymes*
Veronica oltensis – Thymeleaf Speedwell

* Drought Tolerant


  1. a lot of the images in this post aren't showing up for me

  2. Thanks for letting me know! Hopefully, I have corrected the problem.

  3. I have built a 60 meter long 3m high rock garden at end of landborder. Waterfall being intended into small lake. Winters here can drop to 40 cel and summers up that same amount. Makes life hard but with skill it works. Need lots of little col0urful plants and weeping phlox to sort out natural effect over rocks , some as big as a house.