This low-growing plant blooms like crazy during mild spring and fall temperatures.
Sweet alyssum is a wonderful cool-season annual that has been a long-time favorite because of its dainty blossoms on tidy mounds of foliage. These plants make excellent landscape edging plants in the garden and even in containers. Plant them in masses to create an abundance of its light honey fragrance. Sweet alyssums also will draw all sorts of pollinators to your garden.
Alyssum flowers are most often found in a crisp, clean white. However, sometimes you will see deep purple, light pink, or even soft peachy hued varieties. The abundant white blooms make this plant easy to use in garden designs because they can truly go with everything. Put them at the bases of plants to cover the ground and draw even more pollinators to your garden. Sweet alyssum is also valuable for its early spring blooms when nothing else has taken off.
Sweet Alyssum Care Must-Knows
Alyssums are easy plants to start from seed. Because they are cool-season annuals, they can be sown directly in your garden a few weeks before the last frost date for your area. They don't mind the cold, as long as it isn't a hard freeze. If you want an even quicker impact in your garden, start seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost date. It is best to plant alyssum in well-drained soil, keeping plants evenly moist throughout the season.
Related: Winter Flowers for the South
Be sure to give your alyssums plenty of sunshine. In northern climates with mild summers, full sun is ideal, which allows plants to keep blooming as much as they can. In areas where summers are on the warm side, plant alyssums in part shade, especially protected from the hot afternoon sun. This helps extend your bloom time a little longer. If the season does get too hot and plants stop blooming, shear plants back by about half. This will encourage new growth and give your plants a good base to bloom again once cool weather returns in fall.
Because alyssum is a cool-season annual, plants will generally stop blooming to conserve energy in the summer. However, there are some varieties that are much more tolerant of the heat and will give you more bloom time. In most cases, varieties with darker-colored blossoms tend to have less heat resistance than the pure white varieties.
Because sweet alyssum is such a popular bedding and container plant, there has been a lot of research done in trying to make them even better for the garden, most of which has focused on creating varieties that are more heat tolerant and continue to bloom throughout the summer. Varieties like 'Snow Princess' have been breakthroughs in this area, and have proven to persist through the summer. Soon, there may even be varieties in other colors than white that will bloom into the fall!
More Varieties of Sweet Alyssum
Lobularia maritima 'Clear Crystal Lavender Shades' is an extra-vigorous selection with fragrant, larger-than-typical lavender blooms. It grows 10 inches tall and 14 inches wide.
Lobularia maritima 'Easter Bonnet Pastel Mix' offers soft pink, lavender, and white blooms on tidy 4-inch-tall plants.
Lobularia 'Frosty Knight' is a novel variety that has cream-edged green leaves as an added bonus to the bountiful white blooms.
Sweet Alyssum Companion Plants
Nemesia is a charming cool-season annual with pretty little snapdragon-shape flowers—often fragrant—that bloom in a wide range of colors. It does best in spring and fall (winter in mild-winter climates), though some varieties have better heat-tolerance than others. In cool-summer areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, nemesia will continue to bloom right through the summer into fall. Nemesia prefers moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter.
From tiny, cheerful Johnny jump-ups to the stunning 3-inch blooms of Majestic Giant pansies, the genus Viola has a spectacular array of delightful plants for the spring garden. They're must-haves to celebrate the first days of spring since they don't mind cold weather and can even take a little snow and ice! They're pretty planted in masses in the ground, but also cherished for the early color they bring to pots, window boxes, and other containers. By summer, pansies bloom less and their foliage starts to brown. It's at this time that you'll have to be tough and tear them out and replant with warm-season annuals, such as marigolds or petunias. But that's part of their charm—they are an ephemeral celebration of spring!
Stock offers a wonderfully spicy, distinctive scent. Plant it in spring several weeks before your region's last frost date; this annual thrives in cool temperatures and stops blooming once hot weather arrives. It's especially wonderful in window boxes and planters at nose level, where its sometimes subtle effect can best be appreciated. Stock is slightly spirelike and comes in a wide range of colors. It makes a great cut flower, perfuming bouquets as well as the border. It grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil.
Garden Plans for Sweet Alyssum
Here's how to add great looks—and tastes—to your landscape with an easy small vegetable garden plan.
This informal mixed garden bed features drought-tolerant trees, evergreen shrubs, perennials, and annuals.