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Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)

Sweet Alyssum

Lobularia information, Sweet Alyssum information, Heat tolerant plants, Fragrant plants, Lobularia Snow Princess, Lobularia Easter Bonnet, Lobularia Wonderland

Don’t miss out on the charm of Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)! This petite plant is low maintenance, easy to grow, and can withstand drought. Its abundant, fragrant flowers will create a stunning carpet of blooms, blending harmoniously with your other annuals or perennials in beds and borders.

What is Sweet Alyssum?

Lobularia maritima, commonly known as sweet alyssum, sweet Alison or alyssum, is native to the Mediterranean region, including southern Europe and northern Africa.

Description: Sweet alyssum is a low-growing, mat-forming annual or short-lived perennial known for its profuse, fragrant, tiny flowers that appear in clusters. The flowers are often white, but cultivars offer pink, purple, and lavender colors.

Growth Habit: This plant is characterized by a spreading habit, forming a carpet-like appearance as it cascades over walls, containers, and garden edges. It typically spreads 6 to 9 inches wide, offering dense ground coverage.

Size: Sweet alyssum is a small, compact plant, typically reaching heights of 2-12 inches (5-30 cm) and spreads of 8-12 inches (20-30 cm).

Flowers: The flowers are tiny, four-petaled, and extremely fragrant, often compared to the scent of honey. They appear in clusters covering the plant from spring until the first frost.

Foliage: The foliage is comprised of small, linear to lance-shaped, gray-green leaves.

Blooming Season: Sweet alyssum blooms from late spring through fall, often until the first frost.

Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 5-9 as an annual but can be a perennial in zones 9-11.

Uses: Its cascading growth habit makes it ideal for rock gardens, border edges, containers, and hanging baskets. It is also commonly used as a ground cover or in butterfly gardens.

Pollinators: The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Birds are also drawn to sweet alyssum.

Toxicity: Lobularia maritima is non-toxic to humans and pets.

Drought: It is moderately drought-tolerant once established but prefers regular watering for best bloom production.

Invasiveness: Sweet alyssum is listed in the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States.

Key Facts: One standout feature of sweet alyssum is its delightful fragrance, which is most noticeable on warm days or in the evening. It’s a low-maintenance plant that’s easy to grow from seed, making it a popular choice for gardeners of all skill levels. The abundant blooms also make it an excellent plant for mass planting, where it can create a ‘carpet’ of color.

A few beautiful Lobularia Cultivars

Alyssum Snow Princess, Lobularia Snow Princess, Fragrant plants, heat tolerant plants

Alyssum ‘Snow Princess’

Alyssum Easter Bonnet, Lobularia Easter Bonnet, Fragrant plants, heat tolerant plants

Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet’ Series

Alyssum Frosty Knight, Lobularia Frosty Knight, Fragrant plants, heat tolerant plants

Alyssum ‘Frosty Night’

Extremely heat tolerant, it is noted for its spreading, mounding and cascading habit. Up to 8 in. tall (20 cm), spreads up to 24 in. (60 cm).
Multiple awards
Compact, uniform cultivars. Exist in deep pink, rose, lavender, white and violet. Bloom earlier. Up to 2 inches tall (5 cm), spreads 10 in. (25 cm).
Fleuroselect award
Very attractive and eye-catching with it variegated foliage. Heat tolerant. Up to 6 in. tall (15 cm), spreads 24 in. (60 cm).
Multiple awards.
Alyssum Wonderland, Lobularia Wonderland, Fragrant plants, heat tolerant plants

Alyssum ‘Wonderland’ Series

Alyssum Blushing Princess, Lobularia blushing Princess, Fragrant plants, heat tolerant plants

Alyssum ‘Blushing Princess’

Alyssum Snow Crystal, Lobularia Snow Crystal, Fragrant plants, heat tolerant plants

Alyssum ‘Snow Crystal’

Brilliant rosy-red flowers on compact, flat-growing plants. This variety is considered to be excellent for edging. Up to 5 in. tall (12 cm), spreads 24 in. (60 cm).
Fleuroselect Award
Fragrant flowers and blush lavender color make this plant a fantastic addition to your garden. Heat tolerant. Up to 8 in. tall (20 cm), spreads up to 24 in. (60 cm).
Multiple awards
Has large, fragrant flowers. Very suited to hanging baskets, windowboxes and tubs, where the remarkable size of the flowerheads can be appreciated to the full. Up to 6 in. tall (15 cm), spreads 12.(30 cm).
Fleuroselect award

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 11
Heat Zones 1 - 12
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Genus Lobularia
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2" - 1'
(5cm - 30cm)
Spread 8" - 1'
(20cm - 30cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Banks And Slopes, Patio And Containers, Hanging Baskets, Edging
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden

Why Should I Grow Sweet Alyssum?

Sweet Alyssum is an excellent choice for gardeners for several reasons:

Fragrance: Sweet Alyssum is renowned for its delicate honey-like aroma that intensifies in the warm sun or during the evening. This delightful fragrance can greatly enhance the sensory experience of a garden.

Attract Pollinators: If you’re looking to attract beneficial insects to your garden, sweet alyssum is a great choice. It’s particularly attractive to bees and butterflies, which can aid in the pollination of other plants in your garden.

Ground Cover: Due to its low-growing, spreading nature, Sweet Alyssum is an excellent ground cover. It can help suppress the growth of weeds.

Long Blooming Period: Sweet Alyssum has a long flowering period, from spring until the first frost, providing a consistent source of color in your garden.

Versatility: Sweet Alyssum is very versatile. Its low, mounding habit makes it perfect for borders, rock gardens, containers, and hanging baskets. It’s also ideal for filling in gaps between stepping stones.

Ease of Care: This plant is exceptionally low-maintenance, tolerant of seaside conditions and drought once established.

Visual Appeal: The dense clusters of tiny, delicate flowers add a subtle, yet effective beauty to any garden setting.

Garden Design with Sweet Alyssum

Designing your garden with Sweet Alyssum can add a layer of delicate beauty, charm, and fragrance. Here’s how:

Borders and Edging: With its low-growing, spreading habit, Sweet Alyssum is perfect for defining garden borders or pathways. The profusion of tiny white, pink, or purple flowers creates a charming, soft edge, beautifully setting off the plants behind it.

Rock Gardens and Walls: Its ability to spread and cascade makes Sweet Alyssum a lovely addition to rock gardens or wall plantings, where it can tumble down in a waterfall of color.

Containers and Hanging Baskets: Sweet Alyssum can spill over the edges of containers and hanging baskets, adding depth and interest. Combine it with taller, upright plants for a stunning contrast.

Ground Cover: Plant Sweet Alyssum en masse to create a carpet of flowers.

Companion Planting: Sweet Alyssum is a great companion for other spring and summer-blooming plants. It pairs beautifully with roses, lavender, and late spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils. It also makes a good underplanting for taller plants or shrubs.

Pollinator Gardens: Sweet Alyssum is a must-have if you’re creating a garden to attract pollinators. Its fragrant flowers are a favorite with bees and butterflies.

With its extended blooming period and wonderful honey-like fragrance, it can be a delightful addition to your garden design.

Companion Plants

Lobularia maritima is a versatile plant that is popular for companion planting because of its ability to attract beneficial insects. These insects, such as hoverflies, ladybugs, help control pests in the garden. It also attracts and shelters beneficial insects such as ground beetles and spiders. Gardeners also believe that sweet alyssum can repel certain pests, such as aphids and spider mites.

Sweet alyssum also has a lovely fragrance and is drought-tolerant, making it a beneficial addition to many garden spaces. Here are a few companion planting ideas:

Vegetable Garden: Plant sweet alyssum along the borders of your vegetable garden or between rows. As mentioned, it can attract beneficial insects, which will help control pests that can harm vegetables. It pairs well with a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and carrots.

Rose Garden: Roses and sweet alyssum are a popular combination. Sweet alyssum helps control aphids, a common pest for roses, and the alyssum’s low-growing, spreading habit makes a nice underplanting for taller rose bushes.

Herb Garden: Alyssum can be paired with various herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme. It can help attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the herb garden.

Ornamental Flower Garden: Plant sweet alyssum in combination with taller flowers to create layers of texture and color. Good companions include cosmos, snapdragons, zinnias, or petunias.

Container Gardens: Sweet alyssum is great for container gardening and works well in “spiller-thriller-filler” arrangements. Its spreading habit makes it a good “spiller,” and it can be paired with a “thriller” like geranium or a small ornamental grass, and a “filler” like petunias or marigolds.

Lobularia maritime can work well in a variety of garden settings. As it is often used as a ground cover or border plant, sweet alyssum can be companion planted with a variety of other species. Here are some good companion plants:

Roses (Rosa spp.): Alyssum helps to deter aphids, a common pest of roses, and can provide a low-growing, attractive border around rose bushes.

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa): Alyssum attracts hoverflies and other predatory insects that help control pests of lettuce and other vegetables.

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum): Similar to lettuce, the predatory insects attracted by alyssum can help keep tomato pests under control.

Petunias (Petunia spp.): The trailing habit of petunias complements the mounding form of alyssum and their vibrant colors contrast well with alyssum’s delicate white or purple blossoms.

Marigolds (Tagetes spp.): Marigolds are known to deter many garden pests and their bright orange and yellow flowers make a nice contrast with alyssum’s white or purple flowers.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.): Both plants prefer similar growing conditions and can create a calming palette of purples and whites.

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus): These taller plants provide a nice contrast with low-growing alyssum, and their range of colors can complement the alyssum’s blooms.

Remember, when selecting companion plants, it’s important to consider the specific needs of each plant in terms of light, water, soil, and space, to ensure a healthy and harmonious garden.

Companion Plants for Sweet Alyssum

Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato)
Lactuca sativa (Lettuce)
Capsicum annuum (Pepper)
Daucus carota subsp. sativus (Carrot)
Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)
Brassica oleracea Capitata Group (Cabbage)
Brassica oleracea Italica Group (Broccoli)
Pisum sativum (Pea)
Solanum melongena (Eggplant)
Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group (Brussels Sprouts)
Solanum tuberosum (Potato)
Rosa (Rose)
Cosmos Flowers
Zinnia elegans (Zinnia)
Petunia

Growing Tips

Lobularia maritima, commonly known as sweet alyssum, is an easy-to-grow annual plant known for its fragrant, small flowers and its ability to attract beneficial insects. Here’s a basic guide on how to grow it:

Location: Sweet alyssum prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. In hotter climates, some afternoon shade can be beneficial. Choose a location with well-drained soil. It’s tolerant of a range of soil types but does best in moderately fertile soils.

Sowing Seeds: You can start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost or sow them directly outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Sprinkle the tiny seeds on the soil surface, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart, and press them gently into the soil, but do not cover them as they need light to germinate. Keep the soil moist until germination, which usually takes between 7 and 14 days.

Plant Spacing: When the seedlings have more than four leaves, thin to 6 inches (15 cm) apart in all directions.

Watering: Water the plants regularly, but be careful not to overwater. Sweet alyssum is relatively drought-tolerant once established.

Fertilizing: Generally, sweet alyssum plants grown in the ground do not require fertilizer unless the soil is nutrient-poor. Monthly feedings with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer are recommended for container-grown plants. When starting from seeds, incorporate a time-release fertilizer during planting. Apply fertilizer again after blooms fade to promote new growth, but avoid excessive fertilization, which can result in excessive foliage and fewer blooms.

Pruning/Deadheading: To encourage bushier growth and more blooming, you can trim back the plants by one-third to one-half in midsummer. Also, remove spent blooms regularly (deadheading) to promote continuous flowering.

Pests and Diseases: Sweet alyssum doesn’t usually suffer from serious pest or disease problems. Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids and treat as necessary. Good air circulation can help prevent issues with fungal diseases.

Remember, sweet alyssum is an annual and will need to be replanted each year in cooler climates. However, it often self-seeds, so you may find new plants growing on their own the following year.

Discover These Helpful Guides for Further Reading

Native Plant Alternatives to Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)
Companion Planting With Annuals
Best and Worst Companion Plants for Tomatoes
Trap Cropping to Control Pests
Best and Worst Companion Plants for Lettuce
Companion Planting With Herbs
Compare All Lobularia (Sweet Alyssum)
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Lobularia (Sweet Alyssum)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 11
Heat Zones 1 - 12
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Genus Lobularia
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2" - 1'
(5cm - 30cm)
Spread 8" - 1'
(20cm - 30cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Banks And Slopes, Patio And Containers, Hanging Baskets, Edging
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Compare All Lobularia (Sweet Alyssum)
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Lobularia (Sweet Alyssum)

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