How To Grow and Care For Cistus Purpureus

Cistus purpureus [SIS-tus, pur-PUR-ee-us] are perennial evergreen shrubs hailing from the Mediterranean, Lebanon, Portugal, and southern Europe. 

These plants belong to the family Cistaceae. 

Flowering Cistus purpureusPin
First Light at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

You may also hear them referred to as Purple Flowered Rock Rose, Orchid Spot Rock Rose, or as Betty Taudevin.

Cistus Purpureus Care

Size and Growth

These pretty, evergreen shrubs have a medium rate of growth and typically grow to be 3′ or 4′ feet tall and equally as wide. 

Purple Flowered Rock Rose has pleasantly scented, dull green leaves. 

The leaves are rough and narrow and grow in opposing pairs along the stems.

Flowering and Fragrance

The pretty, pleasantly scented flowers of the Cistus plant appear in the springtime in shades of white or purplish-pink with large, dark red blotches at the base of each petal. 

Flowers are bowl-shaped, five-petaled, and short-lived. 

Each blossom typically lasts only a single day. 

In the autumn, the flowers transition to becoming brown or black fruits.

Light and Temperature

Cistus requires a sheltered, full sun position. 

It’s best to plant in an area with a southern or western exposure. 

These plants are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 7 – 10.

Watering and Feeding

This drought tolerant, low maintenance plant does well in areas having hot, dry summers. 

Once established, occasional, deep watering is sufficient.

Soil and Transplanting

Rock Rose can tolerate very poor soil as long as it is well-draining. 

Loam, sand, chalk, and clay are all acceptable. 

These plants can tolerate any pH level.

Grooming and Maintenance

Once they are established, Cistus plants require very little pruning or other maintenance. 

  • Simply trim to maintain shape and to remove any dead or wilted leaves or limbs. 
  • Pinch off the stem tips if you want to encourage fuller growth. 
  • Blossoms typically fall off on their own, so deadheading is unnecessary.
  • As plants age, they become very leggy and woody. 
  • It’s better to simply replace them than to try to prune back for new growth. 
  • They do not respond well to hard pruning. 

How to Propagate Purple Flowered Rock Rose

These plants may be grown from seed either by starting seedlings indoors late in the winter; however, because many types of Cistus are hybrids, they do not all set seed. 

  • Of those who do, the plants growing from the seed may not look like their parents. 
  • If your plant cross-pollinates with another type of Cistus, your seeds will produce a mix. 
  • It is better to propagate using new growth cuttings from an established parent plant. 
  • The best time to start cuttings is in the summertime. 
  • Use sharp, clean pruners to cut off a 3″ or 4″ inch shoots of new growth. 
  • Remove lower leaves and dip the end of the cutting into the rooting hormone. 
  • Next, simply poke the end of the cutting into a pot of fresh potting soil. 
  • Place the cutting in a sunny, indoor location. 
  • Keep it as a houseplant, watering one time weekly, until spring. 
  • Then plant it outside.

Purple Flowered Rock Rose Pest or Disease Problems

These carefree, happy-go-lucky plants are generally pest and disease-free. 

Naturally, as with all plants, if you overwater, overcrowd or place them in a setting not conducive to good growth, you’ll have problems. 

All-in-all, if you provide these plants with a sunny, sheltered setting and well-draining soil, you will not experience any trouble.

Is This Plant Toxic or Poisonous?

Although these plants are not toxic, they are also not edible. 

They are considered strictly ornamental.

Is This Plant Invasive?

Although this Cistus is not considered invasive (Cistus ladanifer is), they do grow very enthusiastically all along the West Coast of the United States, throughout the southern states and most of the way up the eastern seaboard. 

For this reason, care should be taken to keep Rock Rose plants contained in the garden setting to prevent them from adapting and becoming naturalized and invasive.

Suggested Cistus purpureus Uses

These drought-resistant plants do very well in mass plantings on slopes and banks. 

They make a nice low maintenance groundcover in a Mediterranean garden. 

They are also an excellent carefree addition to courtyard gardens, city gardens, cottage gardens, wildlife gardens, and other informal settings.

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