The alyssum flower, commonly called the basket of gold, is a trendy rockery plant that offers a spring bloom so sparkling that it has inspired many names of jewelers! The plant belongs to the same family as the aubrieta. The genus includes some essential species, such as alyssum saxatile, the alyssum of the mountains, or the white alyssum.
The plant is fast-growing and resistant to drought. It grows in the sun, in rocky outcrops, and over low walls, to decorate borders, to illuminate flower beds and even pots with its solar flowering.
It likes arid, calcareous, and stony soils, which makes it an ideal plant for new gardens. The plant can rise by 10 to 40 cm in height. Sometimes, it blooms in more extensive beds, forming carpets of beautiful flowering clumps.
As you read this, you can learn the following:
* Main Features
* Where to Plant the Alyssum?
* When and How to Plant the Alyssum?
* Care and Maintenance
* Pests and Diseases
Alyssum, or more commonly known as «basket of gold,» is a herbaceous perennial plant of the brassicaceae family such as cabbages, growing naturally in mountainous, stony, and rocky areas of central and southern Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
The genus alyssum includes more than 150 species of annuals, persistent perennials, and sub-shrubs. Also, this bushy herbaceous perennial spreads out in tapering tufts that are sometimes erect and more or less compact, evoking a basket.
Rather low, it quickly forms a good ground cover that cannot exceed 10 to 40 cm in height for a spread of about 30 to 50 cm. The plant multiplies and is short-lived for about five to six years.
The foliage is persistent to semi-persistent depending on the hardness of the climate, alternating along stems that are often highly branched and sometimes end in a thorn.
Alyssum is composed of small pale green leaves 1 – 3 cm long, whole, pure, oblong to oval, covered with a beautiful white or silver-grey down. Some varieties are green and cream variegated.
The alyssum saxatile is the most common species in our gardens.
The alyssum is one of the first flowers of spring. Its unique, sunny yellow blossom turns the plant into a real basket of golden flowers.
From April to July, this compact, but somewhat soft, vegetation disappears under clouds of small, bright flowers that cover the entire clump. The flowers measure 5 to 10 mm in diameter each and are made of four heart-shaped petals. Some cultivars such as ‘plenum’ have double flowers.
They are lemon yellow to very bright golden yellow, similar to dandelion. Depending on the species, they exhale a slightly sweet honey scent and are all particularly melliferous, attracting many foraging insects throughout the flowering period.
During the summer, they turn into small, round, green berries that can be easily resown wherever they want in the garden. Generous and frugal, alyssum is a plant that is easy to grow in full sun in any well-drained, even rocky soil. The plant is hardy up to 15 degrees C and more drought-tolerant,
Also, it is perfect to colonize places from spring to summer, forming vigorous golden or pure white mats in flowerbeds, driveway borders, pots, planters, or even stone troughs.
Where to Plant the Alyssum?
Very hardy around -15 degrees C and above, the alyssum grows almost everywhere. It is a frugal rockery plant that grows naturally in poor and stony soils. It needs a sunny exposure and can do well with ordinary, rough, or sandy soil, even dry and calcareous, as long as it is well-drained. This rocky plant tolerates drought well and can grow in little soil.
The basket of gold is the perfect ground cover to illuminate the slightly arid areas neglected by other plants, to bloom a rockery or flower beds crushed by the sun, to border a path, a sunny flowerbed, or to interfere between paving stones. It is very well suited to pots, troughs, or hanging on balconies and terraces in the sun.
When and How to Plant the Alyssum?
We advise you to plant alyssum in spring, from March to May, outside the frost periods, although it is also possible to plant the buckets in early autumn.
To create a beautiful, bright ground cover in the open ground, leave about 5 to 7 feet and spaced one to 40 cm apart. Avoid planting in soil that is too heavy and too compact. In this case, bring coarse sand and plant it on a sloping slope if the soil retains water.
Dig a hole two to three times the volume of the root ball. Also, spread a first draining layer (gravel, clay balls) and place your golden basket without burying the collar. Fill in with equal parts of soil and gravel, squeeze gently, and water generously.
Care and Maintenance
Perfectly rustic and perennial, once well-rooted in light, the alyssum requires almost no care and can do without water.
Sometimes, you can only water in periods of intense and prolonged drought. In case you are growing a potted gold basket, water more regularly and let the substrate dry out between watering.
No fertilizer is necessary. On the contrary, too fertile soil would harm the shape of the plant: the alyssum is a perennial with an unfailing frugality! Pinch the stems at the end of May to encourage the plant to branch out and maintain short vegetation, and cut back the wilted branches. Also, to promote flowering, prune the tufts slightly in June after the first flowering.
At the end of flowering, prune the clump lightly by shortening the stems by half with pruning shears to make it thicker and to avoid invasive sowing. After four or five seasons, the tufts may lose strength. Thus, divide them to renew the plants.
Pests and Diseases
The alyssum is not sensitive to disease. It does not fear much. In spring, protect the young foliage from the slugs and snails: use fern manure to fight against their attacks and follow our advice for a natural fight!
The soil must always be well-drained. Otherwise, powdery mildew can appear in hot, rainy weather, which can be spotted by the rotten pustules. You should prune the affected areas and avoid watering the foliage. In the event of an aphid invasion: spray with water and black soap.
The alyssum is one of the first beautiful flowers that bloom spring! From spring to summer, this perennial plant forms dazzling cushions of small golden yellow or white flowers for the white alyssum. Frugal, it is ideal for sunny and very draining grounds. The plant is easy to grow, rewarding, and requires no care. Rustic, tolerant of summer drought, the plant looks stunning in rock gardens, flowering walls, and sunny borders.