This native of Spain and Portugal this herbaceous perennial is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, that also includes cabbage, broccoli, and alyssum. The species forms loose mounds of wiry stems and is often decumbent but cultivars such as “Bowles mauve” are more upright. The lanceolate gray-green leaves are evergreen in mild winters. The fragrant, purple, four-petaled flowers appear in spring and are ¾” long. They are held in dense racemes well above the foliage and are attractive to butterflies. Good as an edger, cascading over a wall, or in a container. Plants are shot lived and in the South can be used like pansies, planted in the fall for early spring bloom.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Bloom: Purple flowers in dense racemes in spring
Size: 12-15” H x 12” W
Light: Full sun but part shade in the South
Soil: Average, mediummoist, well-drained, limy
Hardiness: Zones 5-8
Care: Cut back to 6 inches after flowering to encourage 2nd bloom.
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Seed, stem cuttings after flowering on in the fall
Companion plants: Euphorbia palustris, chartreuse-leaved coleus, Tulip ‘Jan Reus’ or similar dark purple tulip, artemisia ‘Silver king’.
‘Bowles’ Beauty’ (upright, clear purple flowers in longer heads)
‘Variegatum’ (cream variegated foliage, lilac flowers)