This large genus includes several species ideally suited to pan culture in the alpine house. S. oppositifolia is a colourful carpeter to welcome spring in March and April. Around 2cm/1 in high and 30-60cm/1-2ft across, it clothes the soil with wedge-shapedand myriads of short-stemmed cup-shaped . ‘Latina’ is a variety with close-packed silver-edged leaves; vivid purple-red blooms cover the plant in March. ‘Splendens’ is the largest flowered variety with red with dark green leaves. Both appreciate a cool shaded from midday sun. Set plants in peaty, gritty soil that is quite lime-free. Plant in 15-2()cm/6-8in . Raise new plants either by splitting up established clumps and planting out rooted divisions, or taking of non-flowering rosettes, in May and June.
S. N apiculata, of garden origin, is a gem of a cushion plant with tiny hoary green leaves. Soft yellow saucer-shaped blooms smother the plant from March to April. Spreading to 38cm/ 15in across, it thrives in a 15-20cm/6-8in pan of rich gritty soil containing lime. Set plants in good light. Give as much air as possible. Raise new plants fromof non-flowering rosettes in June. Water freely in summer.