Alyssum is a honey-scented low-growing and profuse-flowering plant. It is often planted as an ornamental companion flower that draws beneficial insects in amongst our productive plants to help with natural pest control. Alyssum comes in whites, pinks and yellows with silvery green foliage. It grows to form a wide mat about a hand’s length deep and is great for filling gaps between raised beds or around the base of pots. Alyssum also makes an attractive edging to beds and pathways and grows well in containers too.
Companions Alyssum is a companion to many vegetable and fruit plants because it attracts hoverflies whose larvae eat aphids.
Sow or plant in spring countrywide. Alyssum is fairly frost hardy and if you have a sheltered, sunny spot you can even try it through winter.
Alyssum grows well in full sun as well as partial shade.
Alyssum likes soil with good drainage and even grows well in dry stone walls. If your soil is sticky then dig in coarse sand or fine pumice to help improve drainage – or plant in a container.
In early spring, sow seeds less than a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Ideally seeds should be about a thumb’s width apart. When they get to about a thumb’s length tall, thin seedlings so that plants end up about a finger’s length apart. Thinning is however not essential.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing a finger’s length apart. I usually dot them around the vegetable garden - planting them on bed corners and at the end of rows.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out.
You can pick the sweetly fragrant flowers and scatter them in salads or freeze them in ice cubes.
Trim plants with shears to rekindle fresh flowering if they start to dwindle.