© RHS / Tim Sandall



Common name: Rock rose

Delicate yet fleeting, each bloom only lasts a day but they're produced in great profusion. This colourful summer display, on robust and extremely drought-tolerant shrubs, makes cistus a stalwart of Mediterranean, gravel and coastal gardens, and the perfect choice for many tricky planting spots.


The delicate, tissue-paper flowers are generally white, pink or purple-red, often with a dark blotch. They adorn these bushy, evergreen shrubs in summer, which range in height from 50cm (20in) to 2m (6⅔ft) tall. The silvery-grey or green leaves may be covered with an aromatic, sticky resin.


A warm position in full sun and very free-draining soil. Cistus grow well in poor, stony ground and many species tolerate chalky, alkaline conditions.


Avoid planting in heavy, wet and overly fertile soils, frost pockets and strong winds, which can damage these shallow-rooted shrubs. Cistus flower poorly in shade, and resent pruning once established.

Did you know?

Cistus rather confusingly shares its common names of rock rose and sun rose with Helianthemum, a bright-flowered, low-growing alpine from the same family.

Growing guide

Browse cistus

Pink-flowered cistus by size

White-blotched cistus by size

White-flowered cistus by size

Cistus we recommend

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Useful advice

Drought-resistant gardening

Drought-resistant gardening

Frost damage

Frost damage

Sandy soils: plants for

Sandy soils: plants for

Trees and shrubs: planting

Trees and shrubs: planting

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