Often seen in urban gardens and household backyards by the coasts, these colorful, tiny flowers look to add a vibrant hue to your backyard plants. They are often planted in combination with other, bigger plants and flowers like marigold. Sweet alyssum is usually used as a ground covering or a fencing plant because it is dense and does not grow too tall.
You can perhaps smell it before you see it. It has a sweet, heavy scent that surrounds the area it’s planted in. It is often a favorite amongst gardeners and plant enthusiasts because of how low-maintenance the plant is. It usually requires next to no special attention and is tolerant to extremely dry and hot weather conditions.
The colorful, honey-dew scented, tubular flowers make for visually appealing decorative plants, too, as people plant sweet alyssum in hanging pots and flower baskets in their kitchens, porches, and backyards.
Table of Contents
- Plant Profile
- Types of Sweet Alyssum Flowers
The word “alyssum” comes from the Greek word “lyssa,” which means “rage” or “bitterness.” It’s quite a contrasting name when you think about it, as this flower looks pretty and full of life. In the past, it was used as an antidote to treat diseases like rabies and was effective in calming angry souls. However, it is no longer used for these purposes and thus, has no further use in medical terms.
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Alyssum belongs to the “yellow mustard” family. Its botanical name is “Lobularia maritima” (Lobularia, its genus name, means small pod, and Maritima refers to its natural coastal habitat), and its common name is “sweet alyssum.” The order it belongs to is “Brassicales,” and it is part of the Brassicaceae family.
The plant grows once a year and usually has a life span of more than two years. It exists as small shrubs and grows about 5-30 cm long and 20-30 cm wide. It has a very vast branch system with little flowers on each of its branches. The leaves are 1-4 mm long and 3-5 mm broad. They are alternate, sessile, quite bushy, oval, and with a complete margin.
The flowers are very small in diameter, about 5 mm, and have a sharp and sweet-smelling aroma. They are available in various colors, such as lilac, rose-red, violet, and pink. The six stamens have yellow anthers. Lobularia maritima blooms all throughout its growing season, or year-round in regions liberated from ice. They’re pollinated by bugs (entomophily). The seedpods are fuzzy and oval, with each containing 2 seeds. The propagation of these seeds is usually done by the breeze (anemochory).
They Attract pollinators
Due to their attractive colors, these flowers are used to attract pollinators and beneficial insects such as butterflies, hoverflies, ladybirds, hummingbirds, etc. Its strong, sweet smell attracts hoverflies towards it for nectar. One of the benefits of working with insectary plants is that new flowers start to sprout as others wither away, so the insects consistently have a trustworthy supply of nectar and pollen. This ensures that the offspring of these insects are well-fed, which will ultimately result in better protection for the gardens.
These insects prove to be useful in pollination. Bees, butterflies, moths, flies, and even certain beetles can carry pollen from flower to flower. Insects transfer pollen to the areas of the flower that need it for self-pollinating plants. Some insects can carry long pollen over long distances, which can assist in the distribution of genetic diversity within a population of plants. During this process, the insect picks up the pollen on its body and rubs it off on another flower, thus helps spread the pollen from one flower to another.
Uses in Medicine
It is used for various medicinal purposes. In Spain, this plant is used as an antiscorbutic and a diuretic. It was formerly used to treat rabies, colds, and abdominal pain. According to popular belief, it is also effective in the treatment of gonorrhea. Along with all of these amazing uses, it can be used to treat scurvy and to stop the bleeding of gums, helps in the retention of fluids, and can be used in the treatment of kidney diseases and for relief from urine pain.
Types of Sweet Alyssum Flowers
The following are the types of sweet alyssum flowers:
The name of this type refers to the cluster of purple alyssum flowers which bloom throughout the summer and are one of the most beautiful types of alyssum. It is popularly named as “carpet” because it is best when it is used as groundcover and grown about 2-4 inches only.
Due to its alluring appearance, it is able to attract a number of beneficial and attractive insects to itself, thus making it extremely beneficial for gardens. However, this variety is not grown for its attractiveness to insects. Instead, it is grown because it looks beautiful as a groundcover.
It is an annual plant and grows after the frost has passed. It is able to survive extreme weather conditions thanks to its deep roots.
Its sweet and alluring fragrance is what makes it the most popular flower to be grown in gardens, courtyards, and even in public places.
The carpet of snow spreads about 5-8 inches and can grow up to 4 inches long. It grows annually and blooms with white flowers after being sown for a minimum of 4 weeks.
It is a perennial plant and can be sown right after the frost has passed, or can even be planted in some pot indoors during the frost. It is sown directly in the soil and can grow in full or partial shade, but it requires full sun and soil that is rich in moisture if it’s to be grown in a potted plant. It grows the best in areas with cool summers and can grow anywhere.
Easter Bonnet has a sharp smell and is available in various colors. It grows by spreading across the floor of the flowerbed or the base of the pot. It takes about 4-5 weeks for it to grow and is best grown under full sun. It differs from other alyssum flowers in the way that it grows closely and neatly packed together.
These tiny, honey-scented plants are widely found in every other Mediterranean or rock garden. Its seeds can be easily stored if the seed heads are allowed to dry properly. They usually germinate within 2 weeks and can survive without water and are resilient against droughts. They can grow in mild temperatures and can survive cold weather.
The young leaves, stems, and blossoms can be utilized as a seasoning in servings of mixed greens and different dishes where a bit of smell is required. They are usually found in white, pink, and purple colors. They typically give flowers before the winter season.
These are free-leaf clusters of foliage secured with various white fragrant blooms from spring through late summer. The leaves are small, about only 1 inch long. They are spear-shaped and have a sharp, honey-like smell. This variety of sweet alyssum blooms from mid-spring to late fall. It can grow in full as well as partial shade.
This variety is commonly known as navy blue alyssum. It’s usually found in deep aqua or dark purple colors as the name suggests. This plant’s hardiness is incomparable, and they are known to survive even in the worst weather conditions. These plants usually grow as shrubs and grow to a height of 4 inches. They can survive in normal soil, and have low to average water requirements.
This variety has a sharp, sweet smell and can grow in full or partial sunlight. Due to its sharp smell & bright color, it attracts butterflies, ladybirds, and other insects.
New Carpet of Snow
This is one of the easiest plants to grow and never fails to enhance the beauty of rock gardens. This annual plant is hardy and dense and can be perfectly grown on borders, in containers and hanging baskets. It has a very addictive and sharp aroma and grows to an average height of 3 to 8 inches.
It is extremely resilient against harsh weather conditions, and unlike most plants, it can survive extremely cold weather. It takes about 3 to 5 weeks for the seeds to germinate and can be stored inside for about 5 weeks before being kept outdoors.
The plant “oriental nigh” is known for its strong smell and hardiness. Another name for this variety is Vostochnaya Noch. It grows only about 10-15 cm. The flowers are usually in small and purple-lilac in color and grow in the form of a cluster of 6 to 8 flowers. Due to their sharp and sweet smell, they are widely used as a decoration item in balconies, gardens, baskets, and pots. Its blooming season starts from June goes to the end of October.
This variety is a very pretty type of sweet alyssum. The fresh and pure pink or white color flowers are what make Rosie O’Day stand out from the rest of its kind. It is also found in various other shades of pink. Due to its attractive color, this variety is able to attract various beneficial insects. This plant grows to about 4 inches long and 10 inches wide. It takes about 8-10 weeks to blossom and can be grown in either rich or moderately moist soil. It remains fresh and at its best during early summers and cannot tolerate high heat.
This is one of the easiest and most hardy Lobularia maritima varieties to grow. It is a vigorous plant and is well known for its mound growth. It is called “snow crystal” because of its white, ice slab-like appearance. Its flowers are bigger than those of other alyssum varieties and are more prone to being damaged when exposed to high heat and extremely windy weather.
It spreads about 0.5 to 1 feet and is usually 0.25 to 0.75 feet long. It can tolerate dry soil. Seeds should be sown before the last frost day, and it usually germinates in a few weeks. It starts to dry in the scorching heat and during harsh, hot summers but starts to bloom again as the weather gets cooler. The blooming time is usually from April to June, but it can also be sown around August for fall bloom.
This variety has four-petaled flowers in a bright white color. Belonging to the family “Brassicaceae,” it has a low spreading habit and grows best during the summers. It spreads about 15 cm in round floral arrangements.
The appearance of sweet white is given away as soon as you hear its name. Also known as Sweet Allison, this variety of sweet alyssum has a sharp, honey-like smell, and beautiful, pure white four-petaled flowers which grow together by spreading in the form of clusters. They are indigenous to the Mediterranean region.
This popular hardy annual provides a delightful nectar aroma and a fragile icing of ice white blossoms to summer beds, rockeries and a wide range of yard compartments. Its height is around 15 cm, which is equivalent to 6 inches. This variety is edible and is usually added to breakfast meals, such as omelets.
As the name suggests, this is a dwarf alyssum, and it does not grow more than 3 inches. It was incredibly attractive and delicate white flowers, though. This variety’s unique feature is that it can bloom all summer long and germinate just in 6-7 days. Their lovely, honey-like smell and beautiful white flowers are what make them a great choice for any garden or patio.
Violet Queen is a low-growing, annual plant that gives off a honey-like smell. Its germination is extremely fast, and it spreads rapidly, covering the ground with gorgeous lilac flowers with green foliage in no time. It can flourish in full or little sunlight and is able to survive slight droughts.
The Alyssum Wonderland Copper is no less than a wonder because of its spell bounding beauty. It is 4 inches long and spreads about 10 inches. The wonderland range of alyssum comes in a variety of colors, from white to red, with each of them having their own distinct quality. These are small, four-petaled flowers produced in profusion and prove to be extremely pretty when planted as ground cover.
Although they aren’t picky about pH, blue varieties show the best color in soil with a lower pH. The large petal variety is known as “Giga White.” It also contains shades of purple and pink. The darker colored flowers behave the best in partial shade. Their seeds usually germinate anywhere from 5 days to two weeks. For the best result, their soil should be a little moist but not too soggy.
Wonderland white alyssum groundcover is one of the most splendid sights in the world. It grows in small, white, star-shaped flowers that are absolutely breathtaking to behold. This variety brings an amazingly fine and fragile surface to a nursery structure and ought to be utilized to full effect. This plant will require infrequent support and upkeep and doesn’t require much pruning, except for when it is absolutely necessary; for example, to expel dieback.
Sweet alyssum flowers are beautiful, sweet-smelling, and add a touch of elegance to any space that they are planted in. The fact that this plant is low maintenance means that it is great for new gardeners who want a pretty looking garden in no time!