Caring For Allysum

Alyssum - Interesting fact - The word Alyssum in Greek meant "against madness". They used it to cure rage which they felt led to madness. While science has not been able to confirm this capability, perhaps we should give out dried boquets of Alyssum to hang on the rear view mirror of drivers who seem to be in a constant stage of anger (grin).

Alyssum - As cabin fever grows to a fever pitch, consier the different ways to use this wonderful hardy annual. Normally it is used as a bedding plant or even as a ground cover and in both cases it makes a gental fragrant statement in your landscape. Allyssum also works very well in containers. If by chance you have a path made up of flat stones set with cracks of soil between them you have a wonderful place to slip some Alyssum. As people step over the plant in bloom, the fragrance serves as a greeting.

Alyssum - A large lacy mound of alyssum planted near the kitchen door will greet all who aenter with a honey-sweet fragrance during the growing season. When used as an edger in planters, the mound of thimble-shaped flower clusters will spill over the edges like free-flowing frosting.

Alyssum is easy to grow from seed, either indoors under lights or outdoors in the garden. If direct seeding is your choice for Alyssum, sow indoors about 6 weeks before last frost, or sow seeds directly into the garden bed after all danger of spring frost is past.

Alyssum - Plant Alyssum seedlings purchased at the garden center or nursery, or those you've started indoors, as soon as the lilacs in the neighborhood start to show their leaves. See Yardener’s Helper re: hardening off seedlings before planting outside. Space plants 6 to 8 inches apart depending on expected height of the variety you are planting (usually four to eight inches). Alyssum prefers full sun but tolerates light shade. Plants with lilac flowers appreciate some shade to prevent color from fading.

Alyssum - If Alyssums are growing in good soil containing lots of organic material, they want only a light feeding in the spring when the seedlings are set out, about a half a tablespoon of slow-release granular fertilizer per plant. In poor soils use a bit more; one tablespoon of slow-release granular fertilizer per plant. That is all you need for the season.

Alyssum - Should be in bloom and will stay in bloom all sumer long. Allyssum does not want to have dry feet. You must try to keep this plant watered through the summer if you want it to look its best.
Optional – Your Alyssums will appreciate, in preparation for the heat of summer, a light feeding of fertilizer using a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength according to the label. This can be poured into the soil or sprayed right on to the plant.

Alyssum - Optional - If plants stop blooming or look shabby in midsummer, before all the blossoms are gone, shear off the top inch or two of growth to renew their good looks. For allergenic folks, touching the flowers or the leaves of Alyssum might cause some minor irritation;(for more information see Tom Ogren’s Allergy-Free Gardening available at

Alyssum - Alyssum’s ability to handle a light frost makes it a good choice for those who like to push the envelope in late-season planting. [From Annuals for Michigan by Szerlag & Beck]

Alyssum - If at the end of the season, blooms are allowed to mature to pods with seeds within, Alyssum may self-sow and appear next spring as long as the soil is not disturbed. Alyssum can handle a light frost making it an attractive plant in the late fall garden. Updated July 2002

Alyssum - Your plants will die with the first hard frost. You can leave them out all winter or remove them to the compost pile. But keep the beds mulched right through the winter, ready for next year’s plants. Updated July 2002.

Alyssum - This is an annual which will self-sow its seeds and turn up in your garden next year with no help from you. If you like that, then you are happy; if you don’t like that little self-propagation then remember next year to pick the seed pods before they dry and fall to the ground. NAncy leaves her Alyssum plants out all winter. In the spring she removes the previous year's growth to expose self-sowed seedlings below.

Alyssum - People lucky enough to have a heated greenhouse or sun room can enjoy Alyssum right in the middle of the winter. Start seeds for next winter in October or November; blooms should arrive about six to seven weeks after planting.

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