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In their natural habitat, mountain plants are usually covered and protected with a blanket of snow, have a short growing season, and do not suffer from some of the high temperatures and humid conditions that they may face planted in many rock gardens in different zone areas. If you have little dependable snow in your area, even if the winters are cold, rock plants will still need the protection of a loose mulch. Mulch should be applied after the soil freezes. Pine boughs are especially good.