Every year I plant Sweet Alyssum in multiple locations in my yard, in containers and in hanging baskets. Although I’ve mentioned the use of Dwarf Mexican Petunia as an excellent filler plant for containers, I find Sweet Alyssum to be the ultimate filler plant for small bare spots in hanging baskets and pots. Sweet Alyssum is a wonderful border plant as well.
Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritime, is a low growing, somewhat trailing, annual that produces tiny clusters of white, near white, purple and/or pink flowers. White is the most common color of Alyssum found in the nurseries and in seed packets, but you can find an “Easter Egg” variety that will surprise you with a kaleidoscope of the pastels. When in full bloom, the scent of Sweet Alyssum is . . .well . . . sweet! You can especially enjoy its honey-like fragrance when planted en masse.
Although listed as an annual, Sweet Alyssum is quite hardy and will survive mild frosts. Alyssum is typically the last surviving annual in my flower beds as the hard freezes set in. Here in North Texas this means you can enjoy the fragrance and beauty of Sweet Alyssum from early spring through mid winter. -And if you are fortunate, some of your Alyssum may return in the spring via re-seeding.
While it will tolerate all light conditions other than full shade, Sweet Alyssum grows and blooms best if planted in mostly sunny to partly sunny locations. If it does not receive enough sunshine, it may become leggy (as it tries to reach more light) and will produce very few blooms. On the contrary, in Texas and other areas that experience hot, dry summers, Alyssum may stop blooming altogether in July & August if planted in 100% full sun. In this case, if you water it regularly during the dry times and keep it green, you may be rewarded with a resurgence of blooms come early fall when the temps decrease a bit.
Sweet Alyssum, like Dill, is one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive plants to sow from seed. From seed, it can create an elegant, finishing touch to any container, no matter whether the primary plant groupings are other annuals, perennials, bulbs or non-blooming greenery such as ferns or ivies. I have to admit that after I have arranged my hanging baskets and containers with the “backbone” plants, I simply take a handfull of Sweet Alyssum seed and sprinkle around the bare areas and near the rims of the containers. There truly is no need to cover the seed as it is very, very fine and will blend with the soil and germinate easily. I have found that after watering for a couple of days, it will rapidly sprout and begin to spill over your containers very quickly. At first it will merely be a cascade of dainty green leaves, but not long after, the green will transform into a froth of color.
The photo below is of one of my containers where I alternated Dwarf Mexican Petunia plantlets with Sweet Alyssum seed around the perimeter of the pot. (The center plant is Pink Guara, a native Texas perennial, which I may speak about in a future post.) When all are in full bloom, I will have a pink arching centerpiece surrounded by a ring of violet blooms, along with drippings of dainty white flowers in one beautiful potting. I cannot wait! Having only sown the Alyssum seed last week, unfortunately it is too soon for it or the petunia to be blooming, but I wanted to depict how easy it is to use Alyssum to complete, compliment, and enhance a backyard floral arrangement similar to what you may see in public gardens and high-end nurseries.
With regard to planting Alyssum in your beds, you can certainly create an instant floral “carpet” or border by setting out multiple 4 inch pots of the plant. However, it is very possible to create the same carpet of flowers by sowing seed directly into the soil, and in fact, it is probably less intrusive to any surrounding plants if you choose to do so. I have read where some folks sow Alyssum seed regularly around the base of their existing rose bushes and vines to add some extra flare to their blooming gardens. I have also read where the white variety of Sweet Alyssum is a welcomed addition to moon gardens, not only due to its white color, but also due to its wonderful aroma. For more on moon gardening see my post about Moonflower Vine.
I encourage you to browse the seed stands and purchase a couple of packets of Sweet Alyssum. Toss the seed around in your potted containers, hanging baskets and/or perhaps in a bare spot or two in your landscape. Water the seeded areas for the next few days and you’ll have honey-scented Alyssum to enjoy in no time!
Until next time,