Candytuft, scientifically known as Iberis sempervirens, is an enchanting, low and slow-growing, mounding perennial that grows up to 12 inches tall and spreads 12-18 inches wide. Candytuft has dark green foliage, which acts as a contrasting backdrop to an abundance of cloud-like, pure white blossoms with yellow centers. There are other beautiful cultivars that produce a flurry of colors ranging from white to pink flowers. In warmer regions, Candytuft stays evergreen throughout winter, and in colder hardiness zones it will defoliate until spring. Once mature, Candytuft can tolerate drought conditions, making it a perfect choice for full-sun rock and water-wise gardens.
Plant Candytuft in a full sun location if you live in Hardiness Zones 5-7, and in partial sun if you live in zones 8-9. Candytuft must be planted in soil that is extremely well draining and even gravelly or sandy. Candytuft can be susceptible to fungal root rot from poorly draining soil or from watering too frequently. If your soil is hard clay, amend it with plenty of sand and small gravel to improve drainage. Candytuft can tolerate a wide range of pH levels.
Candytuft is naturally found in Southern Europe in dry, rocky, or sandy soils. In the home garden, they require fast-draining soil and should not be overwatered as they can be susceptible to root fungal issues. When the first few inches of soil become dry, it's time to water. Give your plant a good drink, focusing on the root zone, and allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
Candytuft are moderate feeders, so provide a slow-release, granular fertilizer in spring. Choose a formula lower in nitrogen to encourage healthy growth and blooming. Dig a trench around the root zone and water the soil before placing the fertilizer in the trench; always follow the directions on the fertilizer package and error on the side of underfeeding.
Candytuft will benefit from pruning to encourage new growth, produce more flowers, and keep your plant looking tidy. After flowers are finished blooming in the spring, cut stems back to about 1/3 of their entire length. This will encourage buds to set and bloom throughout summer; some cultivars of Candytuft will have a second flush in the fall.
Caring For Candytuft in Pots
Candytuft is a slower-growing perennial that can be easily grown in pots. Keep in mind that after it blooms in spring, the container will display green foliage until it produces a second flush in fall. The container must have exceptional drainage and be wide enough to allow for its spread. For best growth, place the container in full sun, and provide a gravelly, sandy soil mixture.
Winter Care for Candytuft
Apply a light layer of organic mulch or lay evergreen boughs around the root system to help protect the plant in the harshest winter weather, and to prevent desiccation from bitter winds, particularly if grown in the lower end of its growing range. Cut back all spent growth in early spring.