80321It looks like sweet alyssum, but is not even close. The tiny white flowers and finely textured foliage work almost as well for similar uses in the landscape. In fact, the plants are most often grown as short term warm season annuals. However, candytuft, Iberis sempervirens, is really a perennial that can be cut back in autumn, regenerate through winter, and bloom for spring and early summer.

One must really examine candytuft closely to see that it is related to cole crop vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. That is why is has an odd aroma when cut back. Mature plants have the potential to get nearly a foot deep, but typically stay lower. They can spread a bit wider than a foot. Candytuft can tolerate a slight bit of shade, but prefers sunny exposure.

If planted closely together, candytuft can form a nice small scale ground cover. It mixes nicely with stones, and cascades slightly over the edges of low stone retaining walls. It is more substantial than sweet alyssum, and works better for permanent planting in borders and along walkways. The barely perceptible floral fragrance of individual plants can be quite appealing in larger volumes.

12 thoughts on “Candytuft

  1. This really is lovely. I read that it’s good through zone 8. I learned that zone 8b cuts right through the middle of Houston, and I’m in the northern part of 9a. Would it still work here? And, would it work in a basket or container?

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  2. Candytuft has been a favorite of mine for many years now and can be grown in lots of climates it seems. I grew it in the Portland area. I love that it’s a tidy low growing evergreen plant that BLOOMS too! It’s hardly ever bothered by anything – so outside of trimming off the flowers after they are gone there is little to do for it! And it’s so pretty with the colorful spring bulbs and other creepers like creeping phlox and Basket of Gold that it blooms with… Mine is just getting ready to bloom now – here in southern Oregon.

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    1. It is something that I sort of ignored for a long time, but will be working with now. It is pretty tolerant of redwood litter and partial shade, and the white is a good color for shade.


    1. NO! I knew someone would ask that. However, others claim that it does have a slight fragrance. Weirdly, I am not impressed with the fragrance of alyssum either. It is only fragrant if the weather is right, and the fragrance is rather light. Perhaps I am the wrong one to ask.

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