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Cistus x skanbergii

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

It was not until finding this photo that I realized the petals were in the shape of true love, reminding me to admire the details if not stopping for the sweet smell roses...or in this case rockrose, and in my experience not scented. Generally, rockroses are unique natives from the Mediterranean, bearing showy flowers while seemingly disinterested in receiving any love. Have you heard of killing plants with kindness, well in this case, rockroses do not like to be fussed over, and especially not overwatered...much like our native Ceanothus that detests too much summer water.

Do not let the photo fool you. C. x skanbergii's flowers are only an inch across, which might be why I did not notice its delicate details. They are, however, prolific, covered in a pink drift starting in late spring into summer. They may rebloom but not as abundantly.

To be candid, I planted ours in the wrong place. At the time, the garden was rather open, but as I slowly filled in areas it started to compete with others, in part to avoid shade by contorting its reach elsewhere. A plant that reaches eight feet across needs room under normal circumstances; depriving rockroses of sun is not an option. Which reminds me, some references mention a common name, "dwarf pink rockrose," which I cannot imagine refers to plant size but probably the smaller flowers than others in the genus. I would still consider this plant for ground cover uses if its height is desirable, but there are truer dwarf species that also spread, such as Cistus x pulverulentus 'Sunset' or Cistus salviifolius 'Prostratus.'

Landscape designer, Jeff Wortham, provides another helpful overview for growing this rockrose in Northern California.



Botanical Name: Cistus x skanbergii

Cistus: Greek, kistos, applied to red-flowering shrubs

Skanbergii: Thought to be a natural cross between C. monspeliensis and C. parviflorus, according to San Marco Growers

Common Name: Pink rockrose; dwarf pink rockrose

Family Name: Cistaceae

Origin: Mediterranean; Greece, Italy

design considerations

Positioning: Middle ground

Garden Themes: Mediterranean/dry, rock, coastal, cottage/informal, courtyard/patio (with room), pollinator, rain

Uses: Border, mass/drift, ground cover, embankment cover, green stormwater infrastructure (elevated embankments & uplands only)

identifying characteristics

Type: Evergreen shrub

Form: Mound, spreading to upright

Texture: Fine

Size: 3' tall by 8' wide

Outstanding Feature(s): Flower

Stem: Green-brown, tomentose


  • Type: Simple

  • Arrangement: Opposite

  • Shape: Oblong

  • Margin: Entire

  • Color: Gray-green

  • Surface: Tomentose, pronounced venation underneath

Flower: Spring to Summer. Showy, 5-petaled, obcordate, cupped, light pink

Fruit: Autumn to Winter. Brown, 5-sided capsule; inconspicuous

cultural requirements, tolerances & problems

Sunset Zones: 4-9, 14-24

USDA Zones: 9-11

Light: Sun

WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Low


  • Texture: Sand, rock

  • Moisture Retention: Well-drained

  • pH: Slightly acidic to alkaline

Tolerances: Drought, deer

Problems: May be short-lived with too much water once established

  • Branch Strength: Weak

  • Insects: Not recorded at time of posting

  • Disease: Powdery mildew

citations & attributions

Bayton, R. (2019). The Royal Horticultural Society's the Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names. London: Mitchell Beazley.

Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.

Products. "Cistus x skanbergii." San Marcos Growers, Santa Barbara. Accessed on September 19, 2021, from

RHS. "Cistus x skanbergii." Royal Horticulture Society, London. Accessed on September 19, 2021, from

Water Use Classification of Landscape Species. "WUCOLS IV Plant List." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Davis. Accessed on September 19, 2021.


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