Sweet alyssum is a low growing annual and member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, that also includes cabbage, broccoli, and stock.  It is native to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Azores, and western France but is naturalized elsewhere including the US.  Plants prefer partial shade, are heat and drought tolerant,  and adapt to a variety of habitats including sandy beaches, dunes, cultivated fields walls, slopes, and waste areas.  Growing up to twelve inches tall, plants have very branched stems with oval to lanceolate leaves less than 1/3 inch long, and terminal clusters of tiny fragrant flowers. that have four petals with six yellow anthers.  The species is usually white but purple and pink cultivars are available. Sweet alyssum is fine textured , undemanding, and long blooming.  It may disappear during times of high night time temperatures and humidity, but in cooler climates blooms all summer if cut back and fertilized mid summer. Great plant for use as an edger or in containers.

Type: Annual.

Bloom: White, pink, rose, and lavender.

Size: Less than 6” H x 12” W.

Light: Full sun (tolerates part shade).

Soil: Fertile, well drained, pH 5.6 6.1 to 7.5.

Fertilizer: Use balanced water-soluble fertilizer in mid summer.

Care: Cut back by ½ after blooming and feed with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer to encourage reblooming.

Pests and Diseases: Red spider mites (spray with a forceful jet of water), and powdery mildew(cut off infected parts of the plant) are potential problems.

Propagation: Easily raised from seed sown in the soil a couple of weeks before the last frost; flowers about 6 weeks after germination. Often reseeds.

Companion plants: Petunia, lady’s mantle, annual geranium.


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By Karen