What is a Sweet Alyssum?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Fragrant, hardy Sweet Alyssum flowers are native to Europe. The plants are small and delicate, providing a soft border for rock gardens or plant edging. Though perennial plants, Sweet Alyssum are often treated as annuals.

Scientifically, this plant is known as Lobularia maritima. It is also sometimes called sweet Alison, or simply Alyssum. The species typically does not grow any higher than 6 inches (15 centimeters) in height. Once spread, the plants can occupy up to 1 foot (.3 meters) of garden space.

The flowers are typically planted for their sweet scent and soft color, which works well as a border around other plants. With their small height, they also make an optimal ground cover for many bare garden areas. Growers also prefer the flower because of its low-maintenance, hardiness, and ability to sustain itself through frost.

Sweet Alyssum is categorized by its soft white, purple, or pink flowers. White is the most popular shade of the flower. Each flower consists of four small petals. Flowers are grown in clusters off long stems, forming ball-like formations of color. The plant's leaves are long, oval, and broad.


This member of the mustard family flowers to full potential in the spring and summer months. It can continue blooming, however, throughout the year. In some frost-free areas, the flowers can remain open just as strongly in the winter as it can during the rest of the year. Many gardeners use the flowers to surround short-lived spring bulbs that die after only a few weeks of blooming, providing additional seasonal color.

When planting Lobularia maritima, the plants should be spaced at least 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) apart. Planting should be completed in the fall. If grown indoors, planting sowing can commence during any time throughout the year.

Full sun or partial shade is recommended for the best plants possible. The hardy flowering plants, however, can grow in most conditions. Alyssum should not be over-watered. If these types of plants experience drought, they are likely to continue to survive. To plant additional seeds, seed heads can be collected from the full-grown plants, cleaned, and kept dry until used.

Several different varieties of Sweet Alyssum are available for cultivation. Dwarf versions of the plant are commonly used in garden bedding. Double Sweet Alyssum is another popular choice, particularly with florists. Most varieties of the herbaceous plants are attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds.


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