Alpines are plants found in high mountainous areas generally above the natural tree line. In their native habitat they are exposed to wide temperature ranges: very freely draining, low-nutrient soils; strong winds and high light levels. To survive these conditions they have evolved a number of defences – because they are low-growing, mat- or cushion-forming plants, they are protected against harsh winds and cold; they are dormant under snow; they have extensive root systems to seek out moisture and nutrients; and they often have spiny growths to deter grazing animals. These extreme conditions are different from a British winter, but provided you bear in mind their natural growing conditions and give them a very well-drained soil, many alpines are easy to grow.

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