Be Happy – Plant Sweet Alyssum

One of the things I did this weekend was underplant my container Tulips with Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima). Sweet Alyssum is a fairly common annual – but it should be even more common, because it is a plant with an amazing capacity to make people happy.

Sweet Alyssum newly planted in the Tulip and Hyacinth pots.
Sweet Alyssum newly planted in the Tulip and Hyacinth pots.

It is easy to grow and just a few inches tall. It can spill charmingly over the sides of containers and the edges of beds and borders. Most of all, though, it has a deliciously sweet fragrance. Now that all the tulip pots are planted with Sweet Alyssum, Judy and I have to sit on the front steps for a few minutes every time we try to leave or enter the house, just to take in that marvelous scent.

This year the dominant Sweet Alyssum cultivar is called ‘Snow Crystal’. I can attest to the fact that ‘Snow Crystal’ has larger flowers and a stronger fragrance. It’s also supposed to have better heat tolerance. As to that, we will see. Generally, Sweet Alyssum can be planted early in Spring but sulks unhappily when the days get really hot and humid. In the past I have just assumed that it will be played out at some point in July.

The Sweet Alyssum I bought was white, but I was tempted by purple and lavender. However, it seemed to me that the white ones were by far the most fragrant, and fragrance won the day.

2015-04-11 15.22.02 sweet alyssum in  tulip pots

A hardy annual here in USDA Zone 5, Sweet Alyssum will self-sow if you don’t interfere, and why should you?

This is an excellent plant for ensuring that your containers don’t show bare earth, so if nothing else I recommend you fill in any empty spots with Sweet Alyssum, or maybe just fill a pot or two with fragrant mounds of this plant.

Do you grow Sweet Alyssum in your garden?

56 Comments on “Be Happy – Plant Sweet Alyssum

  1. Yes. I had some purple sweet alyssum that I planted in one of my beds several years ago and it self-seeded, coming back for at least 3 years, until the poppies and other perennials took over that spot. They did slow down in July, but came on strong in September/October and were often the last flowers to give in to November cold.

  2. You’re right to sing the virtues of Sweet Alyssum. It does look cheery among the tulips. I find the white survived better in my garden than the purple, even overwintering. Eventually it died out. Thanks for the reminder to add this nice plant.

  3. I love alyssum! It’s very happy in the vegetable gardens too. I like to pair it with tomatoes. I bought a packet of seeds. It’s time to get them started so that they’ll be ready for mid-May!

  4. Sweet Allysum grows well and is attractive growing in the cracks of a stone patio.

  5. I usually have a little Alyssum in my summer pots… I have never noticed it being scented though. Maybe a different sort?

  6. I love sweet alyssum. In my climate, without the summer heat and humidity that you guys get, it just goes on and on flowering until it gets ratty and then I remove it (by which time it has put down new seeds for next year). It’s a great, no-fuss plant

  7. It is considered summer bedding in England where it isn’t usually so hot as Chicago. I doon’t grow it here but there are other similar plants that do the same job.

  8. I planted it two years ago. It self-seeded olast year almost as good as the planting. I planted seed and it looked good all year.

  9. I have never used alyssum in pots but I tuck it into borders often. I love the way it lights up a border with scent and a flash of white.

  10. I do, every single year. I’ve put it in borders, pots, and last year I ringed my veggie garden with it. It gets kind of leggy in full sun in the middle of the summer, but it is still beautiful. Pollinators love it too. 🙂

  11. I have used sweet alyssum in the past, but not this year. I did find it less than sterling in our hot, humid summers.

  12. Of course. Common plants in creative ways make for a successful garden with blossoms and fragrance year ’round. It helps to have reseeders that help in uncommon ways.

  13. I had sweet alyssum in garden #1 and have no idea why I didn’t include it in the others! Probably got caught up in the “exotic and unusual” mindset which only goes to show how much one can miss the tried-and-true in those cases. :-/

      • I confess that I once imported Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’ from Hillier’s because (a) no nursery here in the USA carried it and (b) the “cool” factor of being able to tell visiting gardeners its name, LOL. Never occured to me that the foliage color would entirely disappear next to the soil and so the plant’s almost invisible when not in bloom!

  14. I do grow sweet Alyssum, and I let it self-sow anywhere it wants. Last year it came up in gravel, and I left it. Now I have even more coming up this year. It’s going to smell delicious.

  15. I have some of mine started under lights + seeded some in the garden-love how you have it in your pots…you have inspired me to plant more! Love the white one in pots-inspiring photos!

  16. Love that idea!! looks so nice. I have seeds of this, yet to plant them and i have never had it in my garden. Perhaps this will be the year of the sweet Alyssum!!

  17. It was part of a wildflower mix I planted in my first garden. It migrated throughout the yard, a little more each year. I finally pulled it out because it became woody and leggy after the first flush of bloom. I can see using it in pots, as you have here. The scent really is divine.

  18. Sweet Alyssum does have such a pleasant, sweet smell. It captures the light, summer breezes so well and evokes simply joy. It’s one of those plants that seems to germinate easily and grow well from seed, even in a northern climate. Plus, it’s beautiful.

  19. It has been self-seeding for years in my garden. I like having on the walk to the front door because of the fragrance.

  20. I do like Sweet Alyssum , but to my shame I have never noticed the scent, despite it being in the garden, I shall rectify that immediately! I am smiling at the thought of you and judy sitting on the steps smelling it….pics please!!!xxx

  21. I’m collecting plant ideas for my new fragrant garden, so thanks for suggesting these.

  22. I think when it gets leggy in mid-summer, the best thing to do is go out with scissors and give it a nice haircut. Then by cooler weather, it has rejuvenated and starts another good solid bloom which lasts til November. It looks (and smells) very sweet mixed in with asters and all the fall colors.

  23. Hello Jason, this looks like a good plant to have in the patio wall where it will go well with the purple flower whose name has just left my head, um.. like Canterbury bells but perennial, hmm… spreads easily, umm.. no, it’s gone. I’ll let you know if I remember.

  24. What a great idea to put the alyssum in with the tulips, I need to remember that for next year as my tulips are almost done blooming now.
    I like the idea of the fragrance on the patio. And also the fact that it self sows.
    Thanks for sharing.

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