The Alpine Attraction
Coming from mountainous areas above the tree line, hardy alpines suit many people for a number of reasons: they are low maintenance with no pruning or regular attention needed; they do not requirie vast quantities of water or nutrients so many will be fine if you are away during the summer for weeks at a time; and they do not need much space to grow. They are a good starter plant for children or an easy-care option if your time is limited. These attractive plants can successfully fill an old sink or shallow container where most other plants would need room to stretch their roots.
Your reward will be interesting foliage if you choose Sedum, Sempervivum and Thyme, or brightly coloured flowers if you choose Aubrieta, Arabis, Armeria, Campanula, Dianthus, Phlox or Saxifrage.
When considering Alpines it is a good idea to group together odd numbers of plants with similar growing habits and ultimate sizes, so that competition is reduced and your container will be more even in appearance. Adding bulbs and some hardy cyclamen will give interest throughout the year.
Planting in containers allows you the opportunity to create perfect planting conditions, then topping with Alpine Grit and perhaps placing small rocks or stones adds an attractive finish to the pot. Do ensure adequate drainage by mixing John Innes No. 2 and multipurpose compost in equal measure and then add some alpine grit to help drainage. Plant alpines at the level they are in within their original pot to help them spread out evenly and finally place containers in a sunny position.