Cistus creticus

Cistus creticus

Cistus x cyprius

Cistus x cyprius

Cistus white rock rose

Cistus x hybridus 'Little Miss Sunshine'

How to grow Cistus - the Rock Rose

Cistus common name is Rock or Sun Rose and the ideal conditions for this shrub are hinted at in the name.  Cistus are native to Mediterranean regions and they like dry and sunny conditions. In addition, Cistus are described as H4 hardy, which is good down to - 15 so ** hardy in most parts of the country  their Mediterranean roots means they are only effectively hardy when grown in well drained, sunny conditions.

Cistus have lovely blooms in whites and pinks as the images above show, almost papery in appearance. 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 resistant. They prefer Alkaline soil but will survive on acid soil providing the other conditions are good. 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. 

If you have the right growing conditions Cistus are a lovely shrub especially mixed in with Mediterranean plants, such as Rosemary, Artemisia, Santolina, lavender Sage including Russian Sage which would also be a good drought resistant combination.

 In less than ideal growing conditions, where the soil is wetter, and conditions colder, Cistus can be a short-lived shrub

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.

It is always exciting to see plants you know growing wild and Crete has many wild flowers to enjoy, (which makes it a great holiday destination information on the Pinterest pages) 

Cistus creticus growing wild in Crete

Cistus creticus growing wild in Crete 600

Which Cistus are the most hardy?

If your garden is exposed or tending to be more cold,  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 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 lightly. Cistus are evergreen, or semi-evergreen and flower well for most of the summer and look very attractive in the border. They are maintenance free and will survive 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 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.

Updated 5.10.2019