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Great Design Plant: Sweet Alyssum
This dependable winter bloomer makes a colorful companion in beds, baskets, even rock gardens
Houzz Contributor. I'm a landscape designer and freelance garden writer living in hot and humid Austin, Texas. I co-authored "Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants" (St. Lynn's Press) with Kylee Baumle. Follow me on Twitter @MulchMaven or on my Facebook page, J. Peterson Garden Design.
Houzz Contributor. I'm a landscape designer and freelance garden writer... More »
Every October or November I begin my search for transplants of sweet alyssum to add to my garden. My love affair with this tiny plant began years ago when I discovered its broad usage in my southern winter garden. If you're looking for a winter bloomer, nonstop flowering and delicately scented flowers, sweet alyssum is the perfect choice — this tiny charmer is actually one of the strongest workhorses in the winter annual garden.
Botanical name: Lobularia maritima
Common name: Sweet alyssum
USDA zones: All zones can plant alyssum
Water requirements: Average water needs, but do not overwater
Light requirements: Full to part sun
Mature size: 8 to 12 inches tall
Benefits and tolerances: Attractive to butterflies, birds and bees
Seasonal interest: Nonstop winter blooming in warmer climates; spring and summer blooming in cooler climates
When to plant: If you live in a warm climate, plant in fall or winter; cooler climates, plant in spring.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Qwertzy2
Distinguishing traits. Alyssum features clusters of tiny flowers in shades of white, purple, rose and pink that have a delicate honey scent. These flowers bloom nonstop throughout the season, and no deadheading is necessary to produce more flowers.
How to use it. The mounding and trailing habit of alyssum, combined with the diminutive size of the plant, makes it perfect for adding to low borders, annual beds, container plants, hanging baskets and rock gardens. It combines beautifully with other flowering annuals such as violas, pansies, snapdragons, cyclamen, stock and ornamental cabbages, and kale.
Planting notes. Plant in a sunny site in well-drained soil. Water regularly until the plant is established, but do not overwater. No fertilizing is necessary to keep it blooming, but if you need to fertilize neighboring plants, alyssum will accept it without complaint. It is actually a fairly drought-tolerant plant and can be used in rock gardens, but it will look a little fuller and more vibrant if given average water.
Ideabook updated on May 3, 2013.
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