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How to Make a Container Rock Garden

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Here is a small, striking rock garden growing in a shallow, rectangular container.

Here is a small, striking rock garden growing in a shallow, rectangular container.

Creating a Rock Garden in Miniature

Conventionally, a rock garden is constructed on the garden floor with blocks or rocks of suitable sizes. It can look like mountains and valleys with flowers and foliage. You can also incorporate elements that look like pools or lakes.

Nowadays, you may see miniature rock gardens in rock pots/containers or the like on porches, rooftops, or in shady places near a house. To avoid stooping low to see and enjoy the low-growing plants, troughs can be raised to a height of 40-60 cm.

What Kind of Container Can You Use?

Porcelain or cement concrete sinks, which are generally used in laboratories, are used for this purpose. Portable concrete cisterns, which are available in the cement works, can be used with an advantage: a hole for draining water can be made at the bottom of such a cistern.

Another type of container is a flowerpot which is made with small blocks of rock and cement. Such pots are literally called “rock pots.” But other containers such as sinks, troughs, and cisterns are the pots or containers used for making rock gardens.

Classification of Containers

The containers for making miniature rock gardens are grouped into four types:

  • Natural stone trough: A large cistern-like trough made with stone blocks and cement. It can be made on the ground or as a bench-like pedestal.
  • Circular trough: A large round pot is cut out of a large block of stone. Of the same shape and size, cement cisterns are available in the cement works. A hole for draining out water must be made at the bottom.
  • Billiard table: This is made with the rejected wooden slippers of railway tracks. The top level is equal to the height of a table. And in most cases it is as large as a billiard table, hence the name.
  • Rock pot: A pot with shape and size of a large flower pot that is made with the small blocks of stone and cement.
Miniature rock gardens can even be very small in size!

Miniature rock gardens can even be very small in size!

What Kind of Potting Compost Do You Use in a Rock Garden?

Potting compost for the rock garden should be light in texture. The following ingredients can be used to make a suitable compost:



50 litres


10 litres

Leafmould/organic manure

5 litres


500 grams

Wood ash/muriate of potash

500 grams

How to Fill the Container and Add the Rocks

  1. Before filling the container with compost, check the drain hole (which is indispensable). Crock the hole as usual. To do this, place a piece of wire netting over the hole, and then cover the netting with a lump of grit or stone chippings.
  2. Fill the pots with compost up to the rim, then press the soil to make it compact; soil will go down thereby making a depression. Leave an empty space of few centimeters add more soil to reach its level. In other words, the soil surface will remain 3-4 cm below the rim of the container.
  3. Now the pieces of stone will be planted (partly inserted) at places on the soil surface. The remaining place should be covered with stone chippings up to the rim just to give an appearance of a miniature valley. Therefore, the surface should have ups and downs that represent a valley.

Which Plants Should You Select for Your Container Garden?

Needless to say, the shade-loving dwarf cultivar is highly suitable for container rock gardens. Conifers, through tall-growing, are used for this purpose. Very small plants of conifers are planted. If found quick growing, judicious, pruning becomes necessary.

Shrubs and annual herbs having small leaves are suitable for this purpose. The scandent or sub-scandent herbs which are suitable for hanging baskets are also preferred. Such plants should be planted near the rim so that their trailing branches can hang like a cascade along the side of the container.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


LetitiaFT from Paris via California on June 01, 2012:

This is wonderful, Fuzzy. I just linked to it. Thanks.

shayana mack on September 09, 2011:

HI fuzzy wonderful hub on gardening.And Great information with nice pictures. Well done!

C.R. Stone from East-Bolton on March 13, 2011:

I've recently started trying things out with these types of planter. Thanks for the extra tips.