Cistus creticus

Cistus creticus

Cistus x cyprius

Cistus x cyprius

Cistus white rock rose

Cistus x hybridus 'Little Miss Sunshine'

How to grow Cistus also knowns as the Rock Rose

Cistus common name is Rock or Sun Rose and the ideal conditions for this shrub are clearly hinted in the name.  Cistus are native to Mediterranean regions and they like dry and sunny  conditions. In addition, Cistus are only ** hardy but well worth growing for their lovely blooms in whites and pinks. Cistus are a smaller shrub which makes them useful for the front of a border. Illustrated  C. x Creticus left image, which grows up to 1m (**), and re C. x cyprius up to 1.5 m (**) and a view of the shrub overall in the right image. All Cistus are not fully hardy and need dry warm sunny conditions to thrive. In milder parts of the country and during a less severe winter, Cistus may survive from one season to the next. Cistus have five petals to the flower which lasts a day. Whilst the downside is that they are not fully hardy, they are deer resistant, tolerant of salt laden winds and drought tolerant. They also  have a preference for Alkaline soil. Most grow to around 1m and are generally hardy to H3/H4 but most important is good drainage otherwise Cistus will not survive a winter well. 

Cistus are ideal for a dry border, and look good planted with other Mediterranean  plants such as Rosemary, Artemisia,  Salvia, common Sage, Santolina and lavender.

Cistus creticus, above left, as the name suggests is native to Crete and is known as the Cretan Rock rose. It is just one of the many beautiful wild flowers in Crete and I have been lucky enough to see it growing shown here on Pinterest.

Which Cistus are hardy?

If your garden is exposed you may want to look at the more hardy of the Cistus family which are C. laurifolius  C. salviifolius and hybrids such as C. x corbariensis, C. x purpureus and C. 'Silver Pink'. Cistus can survive  lower temperatures provided it is not too wet or too severe a winter. Cistus are short lived shrubs in any event,  and if they do get badly scorched by a severe frost they are best replaced. C. x corbariensis is noted to be the hardiest and has white flowers.

When to prune Cistus?

The answer to this is only very lightly. Cistus are evergreen, or semi evergreen and do flower well throughout the summer and put good colour into the border. They are maintenance free and in fact do respond or recover well from being pruned into the old wood. Cistus are best pruned lightly after flowering to keep into shape. 

  In the right place Cistus are entirely trouble free and will bloom freely. If the garden conditions are not good, Cistus x Dansereaui 'Decumbens' is well suited to growing in a tub provided it has good drainage. Mixing grit with the compost will help, and shelter from harsh frost and chilling winds. Cistus are rated amber wheelbarrow, although the shrubs do not need much attention once established, it is a case of "right plant right place" and there can be problems finding the right place, which ideally is a sheltered spot .

Another reason to colour code amber is because when there are very cold winters Cistus are susceptible and so do not always come back in the spring, or can look a bit of a mess with brown scorched leaves. Cistus are easily propagated by cuttings and as a precaution can be rooted in the summer and kept under glass for the winter to replace any plants killed over the winter.

Cistus are suitable for gardens by the sea side, there are many more ideas on the Pinterest page and at gardening by the sea side.

If Cistus is not the shrub for you check out Summer flowering shrubsSpring flowering shrubs and evergreen shrubs.