Sweet alyssum is a beautiful flower, well-known for its delicate blooming and romantic, honey-like fragrance. You can grow this flower in a container, garden bed, or decorative hanging baskets. If you make an excellent plan, you will enjoy its low-growing foliage and a bunch of lovely flowers for almost the whole growing season.
As a cool-season annual, which originated in the Mediterranean, it should be planted in early spring. However, you can grow this beautiful flower even throughout the autumn and winter if the region you live in is frost-free.
Facts about Sweet Alyssum
Do you know that Sweet alyssum is one of the most popular flowers in the gardens across the US? Gardeners like this plant because of its abundant fragrant blossoms and versatile beauty. Even though it is a perennial, most of us grow it as an annual.
I adore their flowers, which are less than 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in diameter. They grow in clusters and contain four tiny petals. Nowadays, the white variety is most common, but you can find Sweet alyssum with cream, pink, or purple flowers as well.
Most beautiful of all is their sweet, honey-like scent which attracts bees, birds, and people at the same time.
Sweet alyssum has oval-shaped, unusually hairy, green foliage growing on the slim stems, but you barely can see them during the full flowering.
Popular varieties of Sweet alyssum
|Color of the flowers
Deep purple flowers
|Bright, white flowers
|Snow Princess (sterile hybrid)
|White, pastel pink, or purple flowers
White, pink, or lavender flowers
|Small white flowers
Cream, pink, and lavender flowers
Bi-Color Pink Stream
|Pink and purple flowers
|Wonderland Deep Rose
Rose to dark pink flowers
Violet and purple flowers
Carpet of Snow
Dark purple flowers
|Deep purple flowers with hints of white
|Snow Cloth (dwarf variety)
Ten different colors of flowers, including white
There are two basic types of Sweet alyssum
Lobularia maritima (old varieties)
They are traditional types of this flower. You can easily grow them from seeds. However, they can self-sow readily in warmer climates and provide abundant blossom for years.
These cool-season annuals are more resistant to cold and drought than hybrids. Expect these beautiful flowers bloom in spring and again in autumn after a dormant period during summer.
Lobularia hybrids (hybrids)
They have appeared on the market in recent years. These flowers are incredibly vigorous and flourish throughout the whole growing season.
Unfortunately, this type of Sweet alyssum is not drought-tolerant. Plus, its flowers are sterile and can’t produce seeds. The only way to grow them is from cuttings.
Why Planting Sweet Alyssum in Your Garden
Many gardeners plant this amazing, versatile flower just for fun and because of its fragrant blooms. However, it is not only beautiful but can be useful in your garden in many different ways. Let’s see.
- Attracting pollinators– Thanks to their sweet scent, these plants are a real magnet for butterflies, bees, and pollinating flies. By adding them into your garden, you will provide essential nourishment for pollinators and transform your yard into a real butterfly garden.
- Beautifying your garden– You can use this plant to make edging around taller plants in your flower beds or a container. It can also become a sweet-smelling decoration for your hanging baskets, window boxes, or planters.
- Framing taller plants– Sweet alyssum is an ideal choice for hiding less attractive parts of taller plants. For example, it can successfully cover bare stems or uninteresting foliage of other plants, that doesn’t fit color-coordinated garden.
- Coloring the rock garden– Even though this flower doesn’t prefer rocky settings, you can use it to add some colors to your elegant rock garden throughout summer.
- Brightening moon garden– To organize romantic moon garden, you need sweetly scented, pale flowers. Therefore, Sweet alyssum is an ideal choice for adding some colors and scent there.
- Growing natural mulch– Since your Sweet alyssum spreads all around, you can use it as a carpet flower. That natural, living mulch will protect the soil around your trees, bushes, and even vegetables from drying out.
- Covering vast expanses– If you have some open area in your garden, you can plant this flower there instead of grass. In this way, your yard will get more visually appealing, and you will be more than satisfied.
- Filling in the blanks– When other flowers and vegetables finish their grown cycle, you can plant some quick-growing Sweet alyssum instead them to fill in the blank spots. That way, your garden will be colorful and fragrant even after the gardening season.
- Creating borders– Use this fragrant flower as an effective and unique lining for a walkway, patio, or driveway in front of your house.
How to Plant Sweet Alyssum in Your Garden
The best way to propagate Sweet alyssum is from seeds, which can purchase in local garden stores or online. If you need a small package, you should go to the store. For bulk packaging, it is much more cost-effective to order seeds from the Net.
The great thing when we are talking about these beautiful plants is the short period of germination of just two to three weeks. If you sow seeds at the beginning of summer, you will enjoy full flourishing of your plant before fall.
Since most varieties grow from 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) high and approximately 6 to 9 inches (15 – 23 cm) wide, you need to find a proper distance for your seeds. For common Sweet alyssum types, it will be enough placing seeds about 6 inches (15 cm) apart.
You don’t need a gardening hoe to sow these seeds. It will be enough to press them into the ground barely. It is a good idea to use seed spacer to space seeds evenly. The only conditions required for successful germination are the temperatures of at least 60 F (15.5 C) and the modesty moist soil.
If you decide to sow seeds indoors, do it at least two months before the last frost in your region. When all danger of frost passes, you can transplant young seedlings in your garden.
Even though established plants are somewhat tolerant to frost, tender transplants are still not hardy enough, and you should protect them.
You can also buy seedlings in spring as well, and get flowers which bloom much faster. Not to mention that it is practically impossible finding seeds of some new cultivars. Just seedlings are available.
Sweet Alyssum Reseeding
In most garden zones, withered tiny flowers will release seeds to the surface of the ground. Wind and rain will scatter the seeds around. Therefore, don’t be surprised when spotting your Sweet alyssum grows in an entirely different location in your garden the next season.
However, keep in mind that it will be possible just in the regions without extremely harsh winters with too low negative temperatures.
Unfortunately, there is a real possibility that reseeded plants won’t be as thick as those you planted initially. Solve that problem by sprinkling new seeds around in the spring.
There is one more interesting question about the color of the reseeded plants. Which one color of blooming you will get the following season, primarily depends on the variety you grow.
Most non-hybrid varieties will flourish the same way as initially planted flowers. However, hybrid varieties usually come back with white flowers the following season.
How to Care Sweet Alyssum in Your Garden
In general, Sweet alyssum prefers loamy soil with a neutral pH. You can grow this flower even on dunes, cracks in sidewalks, sandy beaches, rocky soil, or cultivated fields.
When you decide to cultivate these plants in a container, you should choose an all-purpose, well-drained potting mix for them.
Keep in mind that older types of Sweet alyssum are quite tolerant of infertile soil, unlike the new hybrid varieties.
Sweet alyssum will thrive if you provide full sun for them. However, if you live in the region with a highly hot and dry climate, it would be better for your plants to get a bit of shadow in the middle of the day.
When you grow this fragrant flower in northern, colder regions, you will need to provide a place with more sunlight for its healthy and vigorous growth.
If you live in the region with a temperate climate, your Sweet alyssum will probably grow and flourish throughout a year.
You can expect your plants stop blooming in mid-summer because of too high temperatures. When fall comes, they will continue with the production of their fragrant flowers.
Your Sweet alyssum will need 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water weekly, and even more when summer days are really hot. However, take care to provide well-drained soil for your plants to avoid rot of roots and stalks.
If you grow these beautiful flowers in a container, keep them well-watered. Take care to let the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the ground to dry enough before water your plants again. That way, you will avoid unwanted over-watering.
Always keep in mind that older varieties are quite tolerant to drought, but new hybrids need regular watering because of continual blooming.
As a moderate feeder, your Sweet alyssum won’t need additional fertilizing if the ground is at least moderate fertile.
If the soil is poor, it will be enough to add some fertilizer at the very beginning of each season. On the other hand, if you grow this plant in a container, you should feed it with water-soluble fertilizer monthly.
Pruning and deadheading
You can always let your Sweet alyssum grow without cutting and get a beautiful ground cover. While spreading, the plant will create unique living mulch below trees, shrubs, and other taller plants.
On the other hand, the only way to avoid the gangly and messy way of plants’ growth after a few seasons is regular maintenance. You should keep your Sweet alyssum under control by pruning and occasional replanting.
Since newer hybrids of Sweet alyssum bloom all the time, you may help it keep flourishing by pruning a 30% of the full height of your flowers once a year. The result will be the quick setting of new buds.
If you notice slowed growth and reduced blooms in mid-summer, especially in older cultivars, you should prune your flowers immediately to stimulate new flourishing.
Sweet Alyssum Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, Sweet alyssum is usually trouble-free flower, and you may face some issues with diseases just sporadically. For example, you should avoid growing these plants in boggy soil or poorly drained ground in your garden to prevent stem rot.
In some cases, seedlings may have a problem with earth fleas or small beetles when you sow seeds in the garden directly. Also, aphids may cause some troubles to the stressed plants, but you can avoid them with proper care.
Because of its scent, Sweet alyssum is deer resistant. Therefore, your plants will keep these animals far away from your garden.