Return to Library Home Page


Scientific: Lobularia maritima (Synonym: Alyssum maritimum)
Common: Sweet alyssum
Family: Brassicaceae
Origin: The Macaronesia region including the Canary Islands, Madeira, Cape Verde east to the southern French Mediterranean coast of the Bay of Biscay. It has widely naturalized worldwide in moderated temperate climates including the United States.

Invasive Alert: Sweet alyssum is invasive in the western United States, especially coastal California.

Pronounciation: Lo-bu-LAR-e-a mar-IT-i-ma

Hardiness zones
Sunset
All, annual except a short-lived perennial along the southern and central California coast
USDA All, annual escept a short-lived perennial perennial in zones 10 and 11

Landscape Use: This small, delicate plant has many uses: It's wonderful for edging a flower bed, filling a container, beautifying a rock garden or cascading from a hanging basket.

Form & Character: Rugged and hardy cool season annual with a refined and diminuative appearance.

Growth Habit: Matting and spreading to 12 to 18 inches wide, 3 to 6 inches high.

Foliage/Texture: Herbaceous small bright green foliage, small linear to lanceolate leaves to 1/2 inch in length; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Small, terminal clusters of white, lavender and pink, copious small fruits are not persistent falling to the ground under the plant canopy. Readily reseeds in garden flower beds.

Seasonal Color: Colorful flowers in winter and spring.

Temperature: Prefers Phoenix winter temps in the 35o to 90oF range.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerates most any soil condition, but prefers a well-drained soil. Does well in very sandy soils, even beach sand conditions. Don't over fertilize.

Watering: Light watering is all that is required during winter culture of this low maintenance edging plant. Too much water will encourage vegetative growth at the expense of flowering.

Pruning: None

Propagation: Can vigorously reseed, especially in coastal southern and central California (the heart of west coast Mediterranean conditions). Sow seed in early fall for winter color.

Disease and Pests: None, mostly because it is only in southwestern desert landscapes for a short while.

Additional comments: Very easy to grow. Some cultivars include 'Royal Carpet' (lavender), 'Snow Crystals' (white), and 'Easter Bonnet Mix' (mixed assortment of white, lavender and pink). Often best planted in the landscape from nursery six pack cells at about 4 inches on center. The genus name Lobularia is derived from the Greek word meaning 'small pod', referring to the shape of the fruits. The species name maritima refers to its preferred Mediterranean coastal habitat.