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Alyssum is a small and pretty, easy to grow summer flowering hardy annual that goes by several common names: sweet alyssum or Alison because of its strong, sweet scent and ‘carpet of snow’ for its masses of tiny white blooms. There are pink and purple-flowered varieties, as well as white, and the flowers are often produced in such profusion that the slender lance-shaped green leaves are barely visible.

The botanical name of alyssum is Lobularia maritima. As the second name suggests, this plant originates from seaside environments, from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, so it grows very well in coastal areas. It’s also a useful bedding plant for border edges, banks and pots. Alyssum plants are small, compact, and slightly spreading in habit, growing to a maximum of 10cm high and 15cm wide. Alyssum flowers are very attractive to pollinating and beneficial insects so it makes a good edging plant to sow around vegetable beds to entice insects to pollinate flowers and help control pests.

How to grow alyssum

Either sow seed direct where alyssum is to flower, sow in modular trays under cover, or buy trays of ready-grown alyssum in spring. Plant out in spring or early summer in well-drained soil and full sun or light shade. At the end of the season once plants have faded or died, pull up and put in the compost bin.


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