Dictionary of Flowers: Lobularia Maritima
(Sweet Alyssum)

Lobularia Maritima (Sweet Alyssum). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Sean O'Hara and Flickr

Lobularia Maritima (Sweet Alyssum). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Sean O'Hara and Flickr

  • Lobularia Maritima
  • Common name: sweet alyssum
  • Family:  Brassicaceae
  • Category: hardy annual
  • Height: 2" to 12" 
  • Width: 8" to 12"
  • Sun
  • Blooms: late spring to early fall
  • Attracts: bees, hummingbirds
  • Growth habit: clumping. Used as a filler or spiller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average to poor, well drained. Tolerates sandy soil. Water regularly if grown in containers. Drought resistant
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, front of border, edging plant, groundcover
  • Diseases: relatively disease free
  • Pests: aphids, whitefly

Southern Mediterranean native, sweet alyssum is a low growing hardy annual that acts as a perennial in frost free areas.

In areas with hot summers, grow alyssum as a spring or fall annual, since it tends to stop blooming during the hottest part of summer.

The low mat forming foliage is narrow and from it, round clusters of small flowers grow. The flowers can be white, pink, lilac or rose and most varieties have a sweet, honey-like scent. 

Sweet alyssum is an easy to grow, low maintenance garden plant, excellent as filler for baskets, containers and beds. It is somewhat frost tolerant and it re-seeds itself quite freely.

To avoid self seeding, shear back after blooming. Alyssum will continue blooming from spring to frost if sheared back. It grows in full sun, though it can handle part sun situations in the garden.

It is very tolerant of sandy or rocky soils, or any soil as long as drainage is good. In containers, water regularly. If planted on the ground, provide additional water during hot, dry spells in summer. The colored varieties seem to do better in cooler temperatures.

Fertilize lobularia once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer, or every other week if growing in containers.

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

Sweet alyssum is easily available in nurseries during spring and early summer. To propagate, start seeds outdoors.

Sweet alyssum can be wintersown. To start seed outdoors in early spring, till the ground six inches, add organic matter.

Scatter seed and do not cover, as it needs light to germinate. Seed should germinate in about two weeks. Thin seedlings to about eight inches.

Keep the planting area moist. It blooms in approximately 60 days from the day it germinates.




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

Alyssum is not bothered by disease if grown in freely draining soil.

Pests like aphids or whitefly can be controlled by spraying with a blast of the hose or by applying insecticidal soap. Sweet Alyssum is deer resistant.

Popular varieties:

  • Lobularia maritima 'Rosie O'Day' - small plant, rose colored flowers. Early bloomer, four inches high
  • Lobularia maritima 'Snow Crystal' - white blooms, six inches high
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Wonderland’ series - purple flowers, three to six inches tall
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Easter Bonnet’ series - compact, about four inches tall. White, pink and rose blooms. Early bloomer
  • Lobularia maritima ‘Aphrodite’ series - offers a pale yellow variety, aside from shades of pink, white, purple and reddish-pink. Under six inches tall
  • Lobularia maritima 'Easter Basket' series - light frost tolerant, robust variety. White, pink, rose and purple flowers

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

Click to see Lobelia Erinus (Lobelia)Click to see Lobelia Erinus (Lobelia)

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Annuals For Containers

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