Rockfoil, Saxifrage, or Saxifraga, is the largest genus in the Saxifrage plant family, made up of just under 450 different species.
These plants come from many areas of North America, Asia, and Europe, and because they hail from different climates, they are also suitable for a range of gardens.
Saxifrage At A Glance
Saxifrage plants are known for their delicate leaves and petite, vivid flowers.
While there are many types of saxifrage flowers available, most feature five petals and five sepals, and up to ten stamens per flower.
These plants are perfect for filling in gaps in container gardening, for adding color to garden walls, or as a big feature in rockeries or garden beds with poor soil.
Where Does The Name Saxifrage Come From?
The genus name is Latin, and is a combination of two words, saxum, and frangere, meaning stone breaker.
This is a curious name, and while it does conjure up an image of a plant prying apart stones, most people believe this name stems from its historical use as a treatment for kidney stones.
The common name for the genus, rockfoil, refers to how the plant thrives in rocky soil, and how it will grow better in rockier, poorer soil than rich compost.
Saxifrage represents desire, love, and utter devotion.
Some species of saxifrage are safe to eat, and the foliage is a staple in some parts of the world, and can be made into a tea, too.
Some types also have roles to play in traditional and herbal medicine, which they have done for hundreds of years.
How To Grow Saxifraga
Depending on what species of Saxifrage you choose, these plants are hardy in USDA zones 3 through to 10, suitable for a range of climate conditions.
Saxifrage mostly bloom in spring through to summer, but you can also get fall-flowering varieties which can stretch their blooming season into winter, too.
Most species of rockfoil stay fairly compact, rarely getting larger than 30cm tall.
The growing conditions that these plants need depend on the specific species you go for.
On the whole, most rockfoil plants prefer well-draining soil that stays damp most of the time.
You can plant rockfoil in a sunny position, in near full shade, or partial sunlight, depending on the variety.
They don’t need a lot of water to keep healthy, and they are very low maintenance plants, making them popular with gardeners everywhere.