Cistus x corbariensis
"The rose that lives its little hour
Is prized beyond the sculptured flower."
-William Cullen Bryant
Sold under the cultivation name Cistus hybridus, this European & Russian ivory-white Rockrose (or two words, Rock Rose) is a cross of C. populifolius (formerly C. corbariensis) pollinated by C. salviifolius.
Highly floriferoius, it begins blooming about mid-May & continues throughout August or even later. Its late April & early May buds begin so extemely pink that it is quite a surprise when they open to pure white, with yellow centers.
Each individual one-inch flower lasts but a single day before it falls off neatly & tidily, making room for the next day's fresh blooms.
After a full year, what started as a little gallon-sized little shrublet had grown to a foot & a half height, with considerable spread of four feet. By its third year it had mounded up to two to three feet of height. The year after that it had spread to six feet, though no taller.
It's capable of reaching five feet of height, but usually only if it has a wall or rock to mound up against or over, & is otherwise a spreading groundcover that effectively smothers all weeds when well established. The option of sheering it shorter at the end of each summer will keep it smaller & very compact, & generally also induce a late rebloom.
This is one of the hardiest of all rockroses. The shiny green leaves are fully evergreen in our climate, & can do well in much colder climates than ours. It can withstand winters down to ten degrees Fahreheit, looking pretty fresh year-round.
It might suffer winter damage if temperatures are sustained in the low teens, & dessicating winter winds can damage the tips. Many other species of Cistus would be outright killed. This one's easily repaired with a late-winter sheering.
It wants full sun &s is extremely drought tolerant, but it dislikes dampness. In the southwest it can tolerate a little bit of shade, but here in the Northwest it needs at least full direct sun through the afternoon, in sharply draining soil beyond the reach of irrigation. On a hot day, the foliage has a pleasing resinous odor. In autumn the foliage can take on a coppery sheen.
This shrub did so well its first year that we obtained another one in Spring & installed it in another low-maintenance sun garden. With no attention at all, these do extremely well, blooming their little hearts out.
We also added a white rockrose with flowers three times the usual size, C. laurifolius x palhinhaii 'Elma,' & a strongly prostrate white rockrose C. salviifolius var prostratus, plus quite a few other rock roses & sunroses of various colors, all of which ideal for harsh hot low-maintenanced locations.
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