Alyssum is a very tough little full sun plant that no garden should be without. It germinates readily and can grow in very dry conditions. It will grow out of cracks in my driveway, on almost pure gravel and in other areas where no other plant seems able to find water. It will also tolerate salt so is a great plant for those living by the shore. It's main requirement is sunshine. It will grow in semi shade but it produces a rather straggly plant that does not flower well.
In full sun the plants rapidly expand and begin flowering as early as June in zone 6, they then continue blooming until the first hard frost. They are usually the last plant flowering in the garden as winter approaches. It's very popular with butterflies, bees and many beneficial insects.
The white thimble sized flowers have a unique sweet honey-like fragrance with a tang of something all it's own. The blooms begin early and cover the every expanding low growing plant. Reaching about 4-6 inches in height they can spread to about 12-15 inches across. If planted en-mass a snowy carpet is produced which is an excellent edging plant. Great for the side of driveways, rock gardens, between paving stones and even on dry walls. It can be used in window boxes and containers where it will trail down the outsides.
It's also edible. The young leaves, stems and flowers are sometimes used as a flavoring in salads and other dishes where pungency is required. It's pretty strong so experiment before you use a lot of it.
Zones 3-9 hardy to zone 7. Technically it's a tender perennial. In more northern areas is should be grown as a annual, but will most likely reseed itself. In more southern areas it's a perennial.
In Spain it has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries as a diuretic. It is also highly esteemed there as an astringent in the treatment of gonorrhea.
Botanical Name: Lobularia maritima
Common Name: Sweet Alyssum
Zones: 3-9 Hardy to zone 7. Perennial in warmer regions; grown as an annual in colder areas.
Height: Usually 4-6 inches but can grow up to 1 ft.
Bloom Time: Blooms quickly from seed. Starts early and continues until frost
Flower: White thimble sized blooms cover whole plant. Sometimes have a pink blush on them.
Sun/Shade: Full sun recommended, will grow in light shade but more straggly.
Soil Preferences: Does not really care.
Moisture Requirements: Can grow in very dry areas. Does not like a lot of water.
Indigenous To: Southern Europe
Sea shore: Can tolerate a medium amount of salt and is good for shore gardens.