CISTUS – rosa; rose

These evergreen shrubs are suitable only for warm areas as they are not fully hardy. Their beautiful, shortlived flowers are borne in profusion in the spring and early summer and the flowers have a paper-like texture.

Suitable site and soil. These plants need as much sun as possible and prefer a poor, dry soil with protection from the wind. They are ideal plants for hot, dry slopes, and will also grow happily by the sea.

Cultivation and care. Plant in the spring, bearing in mind that once established, these plants do not like to be moved. Remove dead wood in spring but do not prune hard.

Propagation Growing from seed gives unpredictable results, so take heel cuttings in summer and protect through the winter in a cold frame, if you have one. Plant out in spring.

Recommended varieties. C. x corbariensis is a spreading shrub with white flowers with yellow centres (height 90cm-1.2m – 3-4ft, spread 1.8-2.7m – 6-9ft). C x cyprius (height and spread 1.8m-2.4m – 6-8ft) has large white flowers with a crimson spot at the base of each petal. C. ‘Silver Pink’ (height and spread 60-90cm – 2-3ft) has clear pink flowers with golden stamens. C. villosus (height and spread 1.2m – 4ft) has large rose-purple flowers. C x skanbergii (height and spread 90cm-1.2m – 3-4ft) has clusters of pale pink flowers.

Pests and diseases. They are generally trouble-free, though there is a danger of frost damage in cold areas, causing the shoots to die back. Protect in frost pockets.

PRUNING WINTER DAMAGE

Rock roses do not require much pruning as a rule. They are, though, liable to be damaged by cold winds so always position them in a sunny, protected spot out of danger from winds and frost. If your shrub does suffer from frost damage and some of its wood dies, this should be cut back in early spring before flowering. At the same time, cut out any straggly growth to improve the overall shape of the plant.

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