Cistus or 'Sun Roses'
A popular garden plant Cistus are a group of evergreen shrubs, native to the Mediterranean. A tough drought tolerant plant once established, Cistus flowers are white, pink or yellow and resemble those of roses.
Appreciated for the masses of colourful flowers over a long period, these are an excellent choice for a sunny position in the border.
Mass planted as a ground cover in an open sunny position you will be greeted with a profusion of flowers, some with darker markings, from early summer to autumn.
With over 20 species of cistus and many hybrids in the UK C. ladanifer and its cultivars are the general choice for garden plants. However other varieties are also popular, if not always as easy to grow. Some of the best include :
- Cistus ladanifer is known as the 'gum cistus' or 'gum rock rose'. It is the sticky leaves that give it its name. Excellent in the garden border as a background plant. Large white flowers spotted with purple.
- Cistus x purpureus with its large pink flowers with crimson blotches through summer is another great addition to the border.
- Cistus incanus has mauve flowers with yellow stamens in the centre that make it a bit of standout flower. As well as being a garden plant it is also used to make a tea.
- Cistus salvifolius var. 'prostratus' is a low growing form known as the sage leafed cistus, white flowers and a useful ground cover.
Requiring very little care as long as they have good drainage they seem to thrive. In the UK plant cistus agaianst a south facing wall for maximum warmth. They grow well in combination with rosemary, santolina, lavender, agastache and rudbeckia.
Plant early in spring in a well drained soil. If needed mound up the garden bed to improve the drainage.
Although the popular C. ladanifer are regarded as frost hardy, very heavy frosts will cause some damage.
Pruning gently and frequently is the key to keeping these plants bushy and healthy. If hard pruned they tend not to respond that well at all. You can cut back a little harder, but keep this seasons growth, cutting back into older wood is a problem
Cistus or Rock Roses are available for sale from the following nurseries
Plas y Maes Trawsmawr Carmarthen SA33 6NH
Phone 01267 281031
SPRING REACH NURSERY
Long Reach Ockham Surrey GU23 6PG
Tel 01483-284769 FAX 01483 -284769
Carr House Nurseries
Horton Grange Seaton Burn Newcastle Upon Tyne NE13 6BU
Tel: 01661 824 631