Dictionary of Flowers: Iberis (Candytuft)

Iberis (Candytuft). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Martin LaBar and Flickr
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Iberis (Candytuft). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Martin LaBar and Flickr

  • Iberis
  • Common name: candytuft
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Category: annual and perennial species
  • Height: 6" to 12"
  • Width: 6" to 9"
  • Sun/part shade
  • Blooms: late spring to mid fall
  • Attracts: bees, butterflies
  • Growth habit: upright. Used as a filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average to poor, evenly moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers.
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, mixed border, cottage garden, wildflower garden
  • Diseases: disease resistant
  • Pests: slugs and snails

There are two main types of iberis, the perennial and the annual species.

The annual species are i. umbrellata and i. amara. They are native to Southern Europe, named after the Iberian Peninsula (Spain).

They grow in dry, alkaline soils. The plant has small long leaves and the blooms appear in round clusters of small flowers. Flowers can be white, pink, mauve, magenta or purple. They are slightly scented.

Iberis grows best in lean soils, slightly alkaline. Add lime to the soil if planting on acidic soils. They prefer a full sun to part sun position in the garden.

Although somewhat drought resistant, they do better if watered regularly. Iberis self sows, so it's important to keep deadheading to keep the plant from going to seed.

They bloom in late spring to early summer, but for continuous bloom, plant iberis seed in succession and pull out the older plants as they start looking tired in midsummer.

In warm zones, annual candytuft can be treated as a cold weather annual, as they prefer cooler temperatures.

Fertilize during the growing season with a bloom boosting formula

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Iberis grows easily from seed and it's available in spring in nurseries as bedding plants. Seed can be wintersown or planted indoors in individual peat pots, as they resent transplanting.

Six to eight weeks before last frost sprinkle seed on moist peat pots. They germinate quickly and can be transplanted outdoors even before the last expected frost date.

To sow directly in the garden, sprinkle seed in early spring and rake in. They can bloom in six weeks from the time the seed is planted.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Iberis is not normally bothered by disease or pests, aside from slugs and snails in wet weather. Bait as needed.

Popular varieties:

  • Iberis amara 'Hyacinth Mix' - plants grow to fifteen inches. Scented, white flowers
  • Iberis umbellata 'Dwarf Fairyland' - compact plant, nine inches tall. Blooms pink to white to lilac. 
  • Iberis umbellata 'Red Flash' - one foot tall plants. Blooms magenta pink
  • Iberis umbellata ‘Tall Mix’ – up to two feet tall plants. Flowers range from pink to purple

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Iberis (Candytuft) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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