Of all the annuals, the sweet alyssum remains one of the best loved.
Native to the Mediterranean, these low growing plants are so easy to grow.
For the most part, these are planted for quick color. Blooming within a matter of weeks, they typically planted during the early spring months. They are very rapid growing, and are sometimes used as annual ground covers.
In the landscape, sweet alyssum can be used in flower beds, rock gardens, and for edging. Sweet alyssum is very suitable for butterfly gardens.
In addition, this annual is an excellent choice for container gardens, particularly for mixed planters.
The most common flower colors are white and purple. Sometimes, you will also find red flowering ones as well. The white are considered the most fragrant. The flowers open in bunches. They are so tiny you have to look close to see the individual flowers. These are only ¼ inch across. They have four petals and four sepals shaped in the form of a cross.
Once they begin blooming, they will continue for some months. To encourage reblooming, cut the fading flowers as they dry.
Sweet alyssum has very tiny foliage. This is alternate, and gray-green. Most sweet alyssum varieties have a semi-creeping growth habit. Depending the variety, the mature size can be anywhere from four inches to a foot in height.
If given a chance, they will self-sow. The seeds take about a week to germinate. In areas with long growing seasons, they can be direct sown where they are to grow. Otherwise, they are started early indoors or purchased as transplants in plastic packs.
In the garden, sweet alyssum plants can be spaced about eight inches apart.
Sweet alyssum doesn’t tolerate dry conditions. This can reduce flowering. For best results, keep them evenly moist.
Members of the mustard family, the original botanical name, Alyssum, is interpreted to mean ‘allaying anger,’ or ‘not mad,’ as it was believed to be useful in curing rabies.