How to Make a Container Rock Garden

Updated on April 25, 2019

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, a you may see miniature rock gardens in rock pots/containers or the like on porches, on 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.

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 or 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.

natural stone trough
natural stone trough

Classification of Containers

The containers for making miniature rock gardens are grouped into five 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.

Potting Compost

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
  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.

Select Varieties for Planting

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.

circular trough
circular trough


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    • LetitiaFT profile image


      8 years ago from Paris via California

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

    • shayana mack profile image

      shayana mack 

      8 years ago

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

    • C.R. Stone profile image

      C.R. Stone 

      9 years ago from East-Bolton

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


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