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Products > Cistus x purpureus
Cistus x purpureus - Orchid Rockrose
Image of Cistus x purpureus
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Cistaceae (Rock-roses)
Origin: Europe, Southern (Europe)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Spring
Parentage: (C.ladanifer x C.incanus creticus)
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Cistus x purpureus (Orchid Rockrose) - A tough evergreen shrub that forms a 4- to 6-foot-tall mound that is usually slightly wider than tall - plants near beach tend to be shorter and even wider. It has narrow wavy-edged leaves up to 2" long that are dark green above and grey green below with a nice resinous scent. In the spring, and sometimes well into the summer appear the 3-inch-wide dark magenta-purple flowers with a red spot at the base of each of the petals and with dark yellow stamens in the middle.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate only occasionally if at all - this is a drought tolerant plant. This is the best rockrose for seaside conditions as it can survive with salt spray, wind and sandy soil. It is also one of the hardiest of rockroses, tolerating temperatures down to around 15 degrees F. In cold tolerance tests conducted by Oregon State University, Cistus x purpureus showed little or no damage during the trial that ran from 2006 to 2009 where the coldest temperature recorded was 17 F.

Cistus x purpureus is a hybrid between Cistus ladanifer and Cistus creticus. It is an old garden hybrid that was listed in 1819 in Syndenham Edward's Garden Register of exotic plants cultivated in British Gardens (V.5:408) with the remark that it was universally known at the time as Cistus creticus "from which however it has been well distinguished by the industrious and sagacious Chevalier de Lamarck in his excellent Encyclopaedia Botanique." Liberty Hyde Bailey called it "one of the most beautiful rock roses" in his 1928 The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It trims back well and is useful as a low screening plant, mixed with other mediterranean-climate plants or as a bank planting, where stems often layer and root. The name Cistus is from the Greek word 'kistos' which was the name originally used to describe the plant in ancient Greece. We have grown and sold this attractive and useful plant since 1981. 

This information about Cistus x purpureus displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.