A group of colourful plants from around the Mediterranean. In spite of their origin most of the common forms are hardy, especially when they are grown in well-drained soil in a warm position.
The flowers open into a flat disc like tissue paper, some up to 10cm (4in) or more across. This disc is usually made up of five petals. They vary in colour from pure white through pink to reddish purple. Some have distinct maroon blotches at the base of the petals. They only last for a day, but are replaced from a succession of buds. The flowers do not smell but in some species the foliage has a delightful resinous fragrance.
They are not difficult to grow as long as they are given a well-drained, not too rich soil. Winter wet is one of their enemies and planting near a conifer that takes up water in winter can be a good idea, thus ensuring the soil is relatively dry.
Cistus do not like to be pruned hard, so just lightly trim the bush over after flowering to prevent it getting too big. If it does get large and leggy, remove it and start again with a new plant.