Lobularia maritima is the binomial name for what is commonly referred to as Alyssum or Sweet Alyssum. Alyssum is easy to grow from plant starts or from seed. This plant is one of the more popular container and hanging basket plants and is a surprisingly good ground cover. Alyssum attracts beneficial insects of all kinds, as well as butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds. It is considered an annual or tender perennial, depending on your growing zone.
What You Need To Plant Alyssum
- Well-draining soil
- Fertilizer (time-release and liquid)
- Water source
- pH meter/moisture meter (recommended)
- Sunny location
Where to Plant Alyssum
Plant Alyssum in a sunny location that receives 6 hours of direct sun. Shade early in the morning or late in the afternoon is beneficial in the hottest growing zones. Well-draining soil of average texture will keep Alyssum growing well. Alyssum prefers a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil pH.
Before planting in a container, you will want to ensure you have a well-draining soil mixture that is slightly acidic. A good way to ensure your soil will drain efficiently is to mix in a substrate such as perlite. We recommend using a mixture of equal parts peat moss, perlite, and potting soil when planting alyssum in pots or hanging baskets.
Spacing for Alyssum can be closer than most plants. Their shallow root systems make them adaptable to shallow pots, thin soils, and crowded conditions. Place the plants 4-6 inches apart on center when planting in the ground. Containerized Alyssum can be tucked into just about any space available. Individual plants will grow well in a 6-inch diameter pot through the growing season.
Steps To Plant Alyssum
You are ready to plant your alyssum. Now what?
Step 1 - Dig a hole the same depth and width as the Alyssum rootball.
Step 2 - Take the plant out of its pot and gently tease apart any roots circling the container.
Step 3 - Place the rootball in the soil so that the top is level with the soil.
Step 4 - Backfill soil around the rootball, gently firming so that any large air gaps are filled.
Step 5 - Lightly scatter a slow-release, granular fertilizer around the root area and scratch it into the soil.
Step 6 - Water the plant well, letting all the water soak in well before the next step.
Step 7 - Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch over the root area, keeping it away from the base of the plant.
When to Plant Alyssum
Alyssum can be planted at just about any time in spring or summer. Because it is usually grown as an annual, planting early in the spring after temperatures have reached 45 degrees F will provide the longest display. Planting Alyssum as a smaller plant will ensure that it establishes quickly. Regular watering and fertilizing are required after planting.
Alyssum is not a plant that takes to dividing well. The best way to propagate it is to allow the plants to self-seed or save the seed so that the plant can be started indoors for the following spring. Alyssum will seed heavily in most growing zones. New seedlings may emerge in warmer zones such as 7 or 8. These seedlings can be left to grow in place or are easily weeded out while small.
Alyssum grown as a perennial can be transplanted from one location to another. The best time for this is early in the fall, just as the plant is putting out more growth. Make sure to retain as much of the root system as possible during transplanting so the plant can establish quickly. Cut the top growth back by half and give Alyssum a light fertilizing.
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