Plant Spotlight on Alyssum

Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) or Sweet Alyssum is a perennial in garden zones 7 to 10, but a flowering annual plant otherwise. Seemingly dainty, alyssum is actually a tough little plant known for its explosive flower power. Reseeding is common with alyssum so the plants that flower early could easily spread by the end of the season. Flowers perform best in sun or part sun cool weather conditions and have a wonderfully sweet scent that attracts beneficial pollinators.

Because alyssum has a mounding nature, it functions as a superb edger and the perfect filler in annual and perennial beds. Alyssum plants make excellent rock garden specimens as well, surviving brief periods of drought. They are fabulous looking, spilling out of window boxes and container gardens. Alyssum is edible, tasting slightly like kale, and the flowers look very attractive sprinkled in salads, desserts, and even frozen in ice cubes for cocktails.

When, Where, and How to Plant an Alyssum

Alyssum is killed by a heavy frost, and should therefore be planted from seed in early spring and summer after the last frost. Cool weather is favored by alyssum and it prefers sun or part sun locations with good drainage, although it will adapt to part shade and continue to flower. Seeds prefer light to germinate therefore it is best to sow seeds on the top of soil then water gently until rooted to prevent seeds from washing away or start indoors four weeks before planting outside. Be sure to amend soil according to your testing needs before planting seeds or baby plants.

Growing Tips for Alyssum

Start the plant by watering regularly for the first week. After the initial week, water as you would the other annuals in your garden. Fertilize once per month with a liquid organic fertilizer to see stronger plant performance. If plants get leggy, simply shear back their growth with clippers, they will grow fresh flowers.

Alyssum Advice and Care

Known as a low maintenance annual, deadheading is not typically needed. Alyssum will grow well in clay and sand, but do better with organic matter added to the soil. Plants grown in shadier conditions might be prone to powdery mildew.

Alyssum is easy to grow and the plants make a wonderful living mulch as they keep soil cool and attract beneficial insects who will stay for the companion plants. Additionally, planting the flowers in between roses, perennials, and even vegetable rows will help keep pests off the companion plantings. Good companion plants include roses, geraniums, zinnias, and edible ornamental vegetables such as kale, cabbage, and Swiss chard.

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