Helianthemum mutabile

Common Name: rock rose 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Cistaceae
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Pink to lilac fading to white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought


Best grown in dry, alkaline, rocky or sandy, well-drained loams in full sun. Foliage is evergreeen, but plants are not reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5 where they appreciate a winter mulch (preferably a cover of evergreen boughs). Plants prefer cool summers and warm winters, which makes them less than ideally suited for the St. Louis climate. Shear plants after flowering to shape and to encourage additional growth. If grown as a ground cover, space 2-3’ apart.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Helianthemum mutabile, commonly called sun rose, is a low-growing, woody-stemmed, shrub-like plant with evergreen foliage. It typically grows 8-12” tall and spreads by creeping stems to 3’ wide. Five-petaled, rose-like flowers (to 1” diameter) bloom for up to 2 months (late spring to early summer) in terminal cymes. Flowers have variable coloration, but most often open pink, mature to lilac and then fade to white. Each flower opens for only one day, but in the proper growing environment, bloom can be so profuse as to cover the entire plant to the point of obscuring the foliage. Grayish-green, lance-shaped leaves (1-2” long). Synonymous with and formerly known as Helianthemum nummularium 'Mutabile'.

Genus name comes from the Greek words helios meaning the sun and anthemon meaning meaning a flower.

Specific epithet means changeable, especially as to color.


No serious insect or disease problems. Rots easily, however, in poorly drained soils.

Garden Uses

Rock gardens, border fronts, ground cover. Sprawls exceedingly well over stone walls or dry, sloping ground.