How to Plant and Grow Candytuft

This plant's delicate white blooms give off sweet scents.

Candytuft is an evergreen, hardy in Zones 3-8 that gets its name from the fragrant umbels of blossoms that cover it from late spring to early summer. Because this plant forms such a compact mat of foliage, it works well at the front of a border. These ground-hugging perennials are considered sub-shrubs because their stems get woody.

Perennial candytuft is most commonly found in pure, bright white varieties with emerald-green foliage. This plant begins blooming in mid spring, and the flowers can last for several weeks. Consider annual species of candytuft that come in white, pink, and purple shades for even more color. Even when this plant is not in bloom, its deep green foliage acts as a vibrant backdrop for neighboring plants.

Candytuft Overview

Genus Name Iberis
Common Name Candytuft
Plant Type Perennial
Light Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 6 to 18 inches
Flower Color Pink, Purple, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Spring Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Candytuft

Candytuft does best in full sun, planted in well-draining soil. Candytuft is highly drought-tolerant, making it suitable for rock gardens or very dry areas.

As candytuft grows along the ground, its sprawling stems root wherever they lie on the soil, creating dense mats of foliage. These rooted stems can be left where they are or divided up and transplanted throughout the garden.

How and When to Plant Candytuft

Plant candytufts in early spring. Space them 12-18 inches apart in loosened soil to allow for good air circulation to keep the leaves dry, preventing diseases and fungi from spreading.

Dig a hole about the same width and depth as the planting container. Remove the plant and loosen the roots a bit from the root ball before placing in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamp lightly, and water well.

Candytuft Care

Growing candytuft takes a bit of effort, but it's worth it for the sweet-scented flowers that appear in early spring through summer. Sometimes candytuft will bloom again in fall.


Candytuft needs as much sun as possible. Full sun will bring out the best blossoms and prevent legginess.

Soil and Water

Candytuft requires well-drained soil, as it's susceptible to crown rot in soggy conditions. Avoid clay soil since it holds too much moisture, especially during winter months. The soil should be more alkaline than acidic.

Mulch the plant in winter to minimize damage from sun scorch or desiccation (winter burn) from low soil moisture, freezing temperatures, and harsh, blowing winds.

Temperature and Humidity

Candytuft's behavior will vary depending on the temperature. In colder places, it grows as a hardy perennial, dying back to ground level each winter. In warmer locations, it acts like an evergreen. Candytuft doesn't do well in high temperatures or humidity, which causes it to wilt and develop fungal diseases. It's better suited to arid, mild places.


Fertilizer can boost the growth of flowers for candytuft, though it's not essential to the plant's health. Use a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous mix in spring. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.


Cut this plant back to ground level after it blooms (or when it's grown in part shade) to stimulate new growth and promote a compact habit.

Potting and Repotting Candytuft

Candytuft isn't usually grown in pots since it loses its beauty once it stops flowering. If you want to grow it in a container, make sure it has good drainage and plant it on its own, not with other plants. Bring outdoor containers inside to overwinter. Repot every few years.

Pests and Problems

Candytuft's biggest problem is usually root rot, which occurs when there's too much moisture in the soil. Fungal diseases can arise when it's too humid or there isn't enough circulation around the plants to allow for good airflow. Sometimes slugs or caterpillars can be spotted on candytuft.

How to Propagate Candytuft

Propagate candytuft from seeds or root division.

To grow them from seeds, wait until after the last frost to start. Add seeds to the soil about 1 inch below the surface and 6 inches apart once the soil has been loosened. Water the seeds well until they grow and are well-established.

To propagate through root division, dig up a root clump in the fall and carefully divide it into two or three pieces, depending on the size. Make sure each piece has some root and some stems. Once divided, plant them in a new spot that has well-prepared soil.

Candytuft Companion Plants

Rock Cress

Aubrieta detoidea
André Baranowski

Rock cress flourishes in hot, dry cracks between stones. It can cover a stacked stone wall or rocky outcropping with blue-purple flowers. Rock cress usually has purple or blue flowers, but wall rock cress is more likely to bloom in white or pink. Zones 4-8


Basket of Gold Aurinia saxatilis
Doug Hetherington

Basket-of-gold grows in the least likely of places—cracks between paving stones, the edge of gravel paths and patios, rocky outcroppings, between the stacked stones of a retaining wall, and more. It will reseed prolifically in little cracks, filling them with dazzling neon yellows each spring. After it finishes blooming, the grayish-green foliage makes an attractive mat in a perennial garden. Zones 3-7


veronica purplicious flowers
Marty Baldwin

Easy and undemanding veronicas bloom in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often, the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Zones 3-11

Garden Plans for Candytuft

Slope Garden Plan

garden bed doorstep illustration
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

This mix of easy annuals and tough perennials will beautify any slope. Follow this garden plan to get the look in your green space.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why are the leaves on my candytuft yellow?

    It's most likely that it's too humid for your plant. Limit watering to mornings to reduce the moisture in the air.

  • Do pollinators like candytuft?

    Yes, birds and bees are drawn to its sweet scent, as well as butterflies. Fortunately, deer and rabbits stay away from candytuft.

  • Is candytuft invasive?

    No, despite the fact that candytuft spreads, it's not considered invasive, but is an excellent groundcover.

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