How to Grow and Care for Alyssum: Gardening Tips & Tricks

by Jack Grover
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A splash of white, a dash of purple, and a dollop of pink — these are the colors that adorn the canvas of your garden when you grow Alyssum. This low-growing annual or perennial, with its delicate clusters of flowers, is not just pleasing to the eyes but also fills the air with a sweet, honey-like fragrance.

And guess what? It’s surprisingly easy to grow! So, how about we dive into a green thumb journey and learn how to grow and care for Alyssum?

The Introduction to the Alyssum Plant

Welcome to the world of Alyssum, a charming little plant that’s as delightful to grow as it is to behold. Originally from Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, this easy-to-grow member of the Brassicaceae family has endeared itself to gardeners worldwide.

Common NamesSweet alyssum, alyssum, carpet flower
Botanical NameLobularia maritima
Plant TypeHerbaceous perennial
Mature Size3–10 in. tall, 2–4 in. wide
Sun ExposureFull or partial
Soil TypeMoist but well-drained
Soil pHNeutral to acidic
Bloom TimeSpring, fall
Flower ColorWhite, pink, purple
Hardiness Zones5–9 (USDA)
Native AreasEurope

These hardy plants are both annuals and perennials. The perennial species like Alyssum saxatile (commonly known as Basket of Gold) dazzle with their golden-yellow blooms, while the annual species like Alyssum maritima (Sweet Alyssum) sprinkle your garden with white, pink, or purple hues.

Alyssum’s dense mat-like growth makes it an excellent ground cover choice. It’s also perfect for edging paths or populating rock gardens. Not just limited to outdoor spaces, Alyssums can thrive indoors, too — adding a burst of color and fragrance to your living spaces.

Attractive to butterflies and bees, these nectar-rich blooms double up as pollinator-friendly plants. This way, when you plant Alyssum in your garden, you’re not just enhancing its beauty but also promoting ecological balance.

Now, isn’t that a fantastic addition to any gardening endeavor?

Types of Alyssum You Can Plant

Alyssum, with its plethora of varieties, offers a colorful pallet for your garden.

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the most popular types that you can incorporate into your green space:

Easter Bonnet

First up is the Easter Bonnet, an early bloomer that comes in calming shades of lavender or pristine white.

Easter Bonnet Alyssum

Snow Crystals

If you’re looking for something neat and orderly, Snow Crystals might be your pick. This variety grows into tidy mounds adorned with translucent white flowers.

Snow Crystals Alyssum

Snow Princess

Snow Princess is a vigorous variety that tolerates heat well and boasts intensely fragrant white flowers. It can grow up to six inches tall and stretch out five feet long, making it perfect for filling larger spaces.

Snow Princess Alyssum

Pastel Carpet

Pastel Carpet lends a touch of whimsy to your garden with its harmonious blend of pink, lavender, and cream blooms.

Pastel Carpet Alyssum

Royal Carpet

Then there’s the Royal Carpet, which brightens up any space with its clusters of vibrant purple flowers throughout the summer.

Royal Carpet Alyssum

Mountain Gold

And let’s not forget Mountain Gold! This variety spills bright yellow blooms over rocks, edges, planters, and raised beds like liquid sunshine.

Mountain Gold Alyssum

So, whether you’re a fan of pastels or bold hues, prefer petite plants or robust growers — there’s an Alyssum variety just waiting to find a home in your garden!

So, How to Grow Alyssum from Seed?

When it comes to enhancing your garden with Alyssum, you have two fantastic options — starting from seeds or buying transplants. Both methods have their unique advantages and can add a splash of color to your green space in no time.

However, if you’d prefer a shortcut to a blooming garden, buying Alyssum plants from nurseries or garden centers is a wonderful option. These transplants are usually well cared for and ready to plant immediately upon purchase. 

You’ll often find Alyssum plants aplenty, stocked on shelves or peeping out of hanging baskets, at your local nursery. All you need to do is bring them home and plant them in your chosen spot.

Mountain Gold Alyssum

Now, starting Alyssum from seeds is a rewarding endeavor that’s also quite simple. Here’s how you can embark on this green thumb journey:

Choosing the Right Spot

The first step in any gardening venture is choosing the right spot.

As light-loving plants, Alyssums thrive in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. They make great border plants and are often used as ground cover due to their compact growth habit.

They need well-drained soil to prevent root rot but aren’t particularly picky about the soil type. You can plant them in average garden soil or even sandy soils.

If you live in an apartment and have limited space, don’t worry. Alyssums are container-friendly, too! Just ensure your pots have adequate drainage holes. Don’t forget that a south-facing window is an ideal spot if you’re growing them indoors.

Sowing & Spacing Alyssum Flowers

The adventure begins when you’re ready to sow the Alyssum seeds. These tiny seeds are usually planted in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. However, if you live in a warm climate, you can plant them in the fall for winter color.

When sowing seeds directly into the ground or pots, sprinkle them thinly on top of the soil, as they need light to germinate. Don’t bury the seeds under the soil — a light dusting of soil over them is enough.

Alyssum seeds germinate quickly, within 7-14 days. You’ll soon see a carpet of seedlings emerge across your chosen plot or pot.

Related: Why Testing Your Seeds? A Simple Seed Germination Test

Proper spacing of Alyssum flowers is crucial for healthy plant growth.

Once your seedlings sprout and reach about 2 inches tall, it’s time to thin them out. The ideal spacing for Alyssum plants is around 6-10 inches apart. This might seem like a lot of space initially, but remember — these plants spread quickly and fill out beautifully. 

By providing adequate space, you ensure each plant receives sufficient sunlight, nutrients from the soil, and good air circulation — three key factors that promote healthy growth and prevent diseases.

Alyssum Plant Care

Growing Alyssum is a joy ride for gardening enthusiasts as it brings a unique blend of simplicity and vibrancy. Sweet Alyssum, in particular, is known for its ease of care.

Mountain Gold Alyssum

Despite being generally problem-free, Alyssums might attract aphids when under stress. They spread to create a living mulch under taller plants and are exemplary “spillers” for hanging baskets and containers.

Note: Sweet Alyssum is on California’s invasive species list and can be an aggressive grower in Hawaii and other warm climates.

Light & Location

When it comes to Alyssum, location is everything. These robust plants relish areas in your garden that bathe in full sun or enjoy partial shade. Known for their cold hardiness, Alyssums are some of the earliest bloomers in spring and often persist until late fall, adding enduring splashes of color to your garden.

Alyssum can thrive across all growing zones, but it truly shines in zones 7-10. In these zones, Alyssum’s cold-hardy nature allows it to flourish year-round, providing a constant parade of blooms.

However, in most climates, Alyssum is grown as an annual. So, whether you’re basking in the summer sun or bracing for winter chills, Alyssum continues to charm with its vibrant hues and sweet fragrance.

Soil Preferences

Sweet Alyssum prefers moist, well-draining soil but exhibits remarkable tolerance towards different planting locations. From sandy beaches and dunes to slopes, cracks in sidewalks or walls — this versatile plant adapts effortlessly.

However, its growth may be stunted in boggy soil or places with poor drainage.

Related: How To Check the pH Level of the Soil

Temperature & Humidity

Sweet Alyssum can grace your garden throughout the year in temperate weather, though individual plants are short-lived. They’re vigorous self-seeders; hence new seedlings keep replacing older plants, often giving the illusion of perennial growth.

Varieties that stop flowering in extreme heat usually resume blooming in fall. In high humidity conditions, reduce the watering frequency to maintain balance.

Watering & Fertilizing

When it comes to watering, less is more for Alyssum. They are drought-tolerant and excessive watering could lead to root rot.

Water your plants deeply but infrequently, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

In-ground Sweet Alyssums usually don’t require fertilizers unless the soil is nutrient-poor. Container-grown plants would do well with monthly feedings using a water-soluble balanced fertilizer.

If you’re starting from seeds, adding a time-release fertilizer at planting time helps establish healthy plants. Reapply fertilizer after the initial blooms are spent to stimulate new growth.

If you want more blooms, though, consider feeding them with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

But remember: A heavy hand with fertilizer could lead to lush foliage at the expense of blooms.

Pest & Disease Control

Every gardening journey comes with its share of challenges, and growing Alyssum is no exception.

Some pests and diseases could potentially trouble your plants, largely stemming from poorly draining soil and inadequate spacing — leading to rot and fungal growth:

  • Downy mildew. This fungal disease manifests as gray spores on the undersides of leaves. To prevent this, ensure proper spacing between your Alyssum plants for adequate airflow. This simple measure can help keep Downy Mildew at bay.
  • Root and crown rots. If your soil tends to pool water and doesn’t drain well, your Alyssums may suffer from root and crown rots. These conditions can cause your plant to rot out and die. Make sure your plants are in a well-draining area to avoid this issue.
  • Clubroot. Clubroot is a slimy fungus that results in deformed stems, yellowing foliage, and stunted growth. Regularly check your plants for these symptoms to catch any potential infection early.
  • Aphids. These tiny pests can be controlled using a sharp spray from the hose or by hanging yellow sticky traps in the garden. Alternatively, you can use an insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.

Related: Organic Insecticide: How to Use Neem Oil on Plants

Proper plant hygiene — like cleaning up dead leaves and avoiding water splash on leaves while watering — can go a long way in preventing most diseases. Remember, good air circulation around your plants not only keeps them happy but also reduces the chances of fungal infections.

The key is to be vigilant about potential problems and proactive about prevention!

Pruning & Deadheading

Maintaining the beauty of your Alyssum plants involves a bit of grooming. Though they don’t necessarily require deadheading, a good pruning can boost their health and promote more blooms

Halfway through the first flowering, consider cutting your plants back to about half their size. This not only revives them but also contributes to fuller growth as the season progresses. While it’s tempting to remove all spent flowers, leaving some intact allows Alyssum to self-sow and produce more plants naturally.

As summer heat peaks in August, another round of pruning will help your plants rebound for a fresh bloom in autumn. This ensures that your garden remains vibrant and colorful as the year wanes.

Deadheading Alyssum can stimulate quick setting of new buds, keeping them flowering continuously. However, if you’re dealing with a large drift of plants, shearing them by one-third is a practical alternative. Some varieties re-seed readily, so this approach won’t affect their propagation.

Occasionally, Alyssum plants might become leggy and gangly. Regular pruning helps maintain their neat appearance and keeps your garden looking tidy and well-cared-for.

Remember: A bit of trimming here and there not only enhances your Alyssum’s aesthetics but also contributes to its overall health.

Final Note

Growing Alyssum is like painting your garden with nature’s brush strokes — all you need is a bit of patience and care. With their charming hues and captivating aroma, these versatile beauties can transform any ordinary garden into an extraordinary one.

Not only will they reward you with their aesthetic appeal but also attract beneficial insects like butterflies and bees due to their nectar-rich blooms.

So, why wait? Start sowing those seeds today, nurture these floral gems tomorrow and enjoy a colorful garden all year round!


Can Alyssum grow indoors?

Yes, Alyssum can certainly grow indoors.

In fact, during winter, it’s common to bring this plant indoors. Place it near a sunny or partially shady window. It prefers cooler temperatures, so avoid placing it near heat sources and consider drawing the shade during the midday sun.

Where should I put Alyssum in my home?

A potted Alyssum will thrive near a window that gets western or eastern sun exposure. This ensures it gets enough light without suffering from excessive heat.

What are alternatives to Alyssum?

If you’re in a warmer climate where Alyssum grows invasively, you might want to consider an alternative like the Snow-in-Summer plant. Similar to Alyssum, it grows in mats and bears tiny white flowers that are deer-resistant. It typically blooms in spring but be aware — it’s listed as an invasive species in Alaska.

Both Alyssum and Snow-in-Summer make suitable substitutes for each other depending on your local climate.

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