Alpines come in an abundance of shapes, sizes and colours and are a fantastic choice for beginners. Their incredible variety makes them great for any sized garden. Originating from high-altitude, rocky regions they are fantastic for climbing displays or as complementary fillers in beds and borders. Whether you’re new to gardening or just need a reminder, this guide will demystify gardening lingo and teach you how to grow and care for your own alpine plants.

What are Alpines?

Alpine plants naturally grow in high elevation and can even scale rockfaces. They grow in compact clusters and produce an abundance of small, vibrant petals. Thanks to their original climate, many alpines are very hardy and so are easy to grow with little maintenance required.

Some of the more popular varieties include low-growing Sedums, Lewisia, Geraniums and Primula. Some alpines like Sedums are best known for ground cover or green roofs while others will bring clusters of colours to beds and borders.

Expect most alpines to be hardy perennials, meaning that they will bloom again and again year after year. Alpines dislike being soaked, and so well drained soil is essential for their survival.

Is my garden suitable for Alpines?

Almost all alpine plants need to be in full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. However, alpines have a lot of varieties, and the conditions of the soil vary between them. It’s always best to check the back of the packet or the info tag if purchasing a pre-established alpine.

Always check if your plant prefers acidic or more alkaline soil. Is your soil rich in nutrients, will you need to purchase feed to keep the plant thriving? If you are unsure, check out our Beginners Guide to checking your soils Ph.

Some alpines need plenty of space to grow, so when planting keep in mind that a few will spread into their surroundings considerably. However, you don’t need a large garden to grow these, some of the more compact varieties are perfect for pots and containers and will still flourish. By researching any specific varieties you find to ensure they won’t overcrowd your garden.

When, Where & What should I plant?

Be sure to choose a sunny spot for your alpines and be careful when watering them. Alpines will wilt and perish if left in damp, sodden soil so make sure your containers or beds are fit for purpose. Containers will need plenty of drainage holes and soil will need to be a mixture of gravel and grit for thorough drainage.

These are often planted in raised beds, borders, gravel gardens and even rockeries thanks to their natural resistance. You can plant these hardy flowers practically anywhere as long as they’re in the sun!

Alpines typically can be planted May/June and will flower from June onwards. This may vary depending on what variety you choose, it’s always best to research your specific alpines. You can find pre-established collections of various alpines in your local British Garden Centre that can be readily planted almost right away. When doing so just remember to tease the roots to encourage them to spread outside their original pot-bound shape.

How to care for growing Alpines

Alpines are a rather low-maintenance plant. Once established with proper draining soil, their naturally hardy flowers will begin to flourish. You won’t need to water these as often as others but be sure not to dehydrate them.

To prevent leaves from sitting in damp soil it’s best to top dress the soil with coarse grit: however, if you have gone for alpines that prefer acidic soil, it’s best to top with bark chippings. These have naturally adapted to poor soils, so there is typically no need to feed them. Just keep on top of any weeds and potential slugs and snails.

Alpines hate being damp and wet, so when the winter storms come around it can be best to cover them with a cloche or large propagator lid (These are also great to stop pests). If the plant is left damp you might find rot and fungal diseases. You can find plenty of covers in-store or online.