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A hybrid of saxifraga umbrosa and saxifraga spathularis, the mat-forming saxifraga x urbium is an evergreen perennial that excels as groundcover but also offers genuine summer beauty too. Commonly known as London pride, it produces dense rosettes of long-stalked, spoon-shaped, scalloped mid-green leaves. In summer, red-flushed, wiry stems grow high above the foliage and produce clusters of pale pink or white flowers, with distinctive yellow and red spots on their rectangular petals, and a soft pink bulbous centre sporting two thick stigmas. London pride thrives in moist but well-drained soil, but prefers partial shade to full sun. Also suited to edging, beds and borders, pruning after flowering is recommended.
- No, neutral please
- Early summer
- Mid summer
- Late summer
- Yes, let it smell
- -23 - -12
- 45 - 90
- well-drained but frequently watered
- Partial shade
- Full shade
- Flowers & bulbs
- Attractive Flowers
- For Beginners
- We love the dark
- For every season
- Author's choice
- Cottage garden
- Rock garden
- Gravel garden
- Flower beds
- Ground cover
- 2 to 5 years
A genus with some 440 species, there is no shortage of options of Saxifraga to consider. Translating to Stone Breaker, many are at home growing in rockeries, gravel or even paved areas, but it is the vibrant-coloured small flowers that bloom usually in late spring, that it is loved for. Low-growing and small, its foliage is usually closely clumped together, with some varieties featuring tiny needle-like leaves and others, sticky round leaves. The foliage can also be mound-shaped or ground hugging, like a moss. Most like moist but well-drained soil, but different varieties have their own needs. Pruning can vary, though removing spent flower stalks is always useful.
A small, mat-forming evergreen perennial, saxifraga callosa is a highly effective option for beautifying those dry areas of a garden, especially a rockery. Known as the limestone saxifrage, its foliage comprises rosette of small but slender strap-shaped leaves covered in a silvery lime crust. In summer, long thin floral stems emerge from the dense rosettes to produce open panicles of tiny, five-petalled creamy white blossoms. A lover of moderate to poorly fertile conditions, and well-drained alkaline chalky soil, it naturally grows over rocky outcrops, making it ideal for rockeries and gravel beds. Cultivating indoors is a worthwhile option too, but ensure there is shelter when planting outdoors.
A small, mat-forming evergreen perennial, saxifraga cotyledon is a rare plant that’s generally at home in cool locations at altitude. But it can make the switch to garden plant quite effectively. Its dense, dark green rosettes comprise succulent, tongue-shaped leaves that are beaded on the edges and whitened by a subtle lime crust. In spring, it bursts with colour when a tall, branched floral stem grows from the rosettes and loose panicles of small, five-petalled white flowers bloom. Its common name, the pyramidal saxifrage, comes from the shape of the panicles. Ideal for rockeries and gravel beds, the pyramidal saxifrage thrives in moist but well-drained soils in partial shade. Pruning spent flower stems encourages growth.
A mat-forming evergreen perennial, saxifraga cuneifolia boasts an irregular appearance that makes it all the more popular amongst informal gardeners. Often several rosettes grow together, usually of various sizes, though the best examples have large, leathery, succulent, wedge-shaped or spoon-shaped slightly notched leaves – thus its common names, the wedge-leaved or spoon-leaved saxifrage. In spring, it produces tall, branching, wiry stems, from which grow loose panicles of five-petalled white blossoms, typically with long yellow tipped stamens. Popular as groundcover and under-planting, the wedge-leaved saxifrage thrives in moist but well-drained soils, preferably in partial shade. Pruning spent flower stems encourages growth.
A very small, mound-forming evergreen perennial, saxifraga ferdinandi-coburgi is ideally suited to filling the cracks and crannies of a garden rockery. Its lush, soft and compact mounds resemble small cushions, with its foliage comprising tiny, linear grey-green leaves tightly packed in small rosettes. Commonly known as the ferdinand saxifrage , it becomes awash with bright yellow flowers in spring. The intricately designed blossoms bloom atop short reddish stems and feature five distinct round or ovate yellow petals, with long yellow stamens extending from the flower centre. Ideal for gravel beds or containers, the ferdinand saxifrage thrives in moist but well-drained slightly alkaline soil, preferably in partial shade. Pruning away spent floral stems is advised.
With mid-green foliage, the Saxifraga fortunei brings a healthy lushness to a garden, but it is the small, delicately designed white blooms that emerge in large open panicles from summer to autumn that make this deciduous garden plant so alluring. The leaves are fleshy and lobed, and usually with a tinge of red, especially the underside, with its blooms. Ideally suited to rockeries and as underplanting, Fortune Saxifrage, as it’s also known, thrives in the shade in deep, moist but well-drained soil.
An evergreen perennial, Saxifraga paniculata is distinctive thanks to its mats of tightly packed tiny grey-green rosettes. Known as White Mountain Saxifrage, the leaves are tipped in white, much like the snow-capped pinnacle of a mountain. It produces arching red stems from which panicles of tiny pale yellow flowers bloom. They thrive in partial shade and in well-drained soil, and are ideal for beautifying rockeries, walls and other structures. Hates heat and drought, so be sure not to plant them in exposed areas.
A creeping deciduous perennial, saxifraga stolonifera boasts a popularity many of its fellow species cannot. Its dark green, glossy, round leaves are sometimes flushed red near the edges and have veins clearly mapped in silver. Known as the creeping saxifrage, it spreads via long thin runners, making it ideal for groundcover. In summer, it produces tall feather-shaped floral stems on which tiny white blossoms bloom. These distinctive flowers have two long, ovate, sharply-pointed lower petals, and three shorter upper petals with purple spots on them. The creeping saxifrage thrives in humus-rich, well-drained soils, but dislikes wet and cold, making growing under glass ideal. Pruning away spent floral stems is advised.
A mound-forming evergreen perennial, saxifraga x apiculata is more readily known by its synonym, saxifraga alba. Growing in a dense, compact habit, it can quickly carpet relatively large spaces, making it a highly effective option as groundcover. Its dark green rosettes comprise tiny lance-shaped leaves, their edges covered in a lime crust. Its common name comes from its early spring blossoms, with clusters of small, five-petalled, white flowers, with a cluster of yellow stamens giving them a golden-coloured centre. A popular choice for rockeries and gravel beds, saxifraga alba thrives in moist but well-drained slightly alkaline soils, in partial shade. Pruning away spent stems is recommended.