Saturday, November 7, 2015

Abundant Appreciation for Autumn Alyssum

The weather has turned into a yo-yo, dropping into 20's and decimating the garden with frost before bouncing back up into the 70's for several days of gorgeously warm weather.  So what's a pollinator to do with most of the garden blooms gone?  The last remaining flowers are getting swarmed with bees: the Sheffield Mums, the handful of Autumn Crocus, the last of the blooming Asters, and a couple annuals that can tolerate a light frost - including the impressively hardy Sweet Alyssum.


I have talked before about how useful Alyssum is in the garden - it's drought tolerant, easy to grow, makes a great border in the garden, has a great fragrance, and attracts beneficial insects.  But it's also a great boon to a fall garden.  Sometimes it can flag a bit during the height of summer, especially further south, but by fall it rejuvenates.  And, to the appreciation of the local pollinators, established Sweet Alyssum plants can take light frosts.


Alyssum is part of the botanical family Brassicaceae, aka the cabbage and mustard family, interestingly enough.  It is native to the Mediterranean region, Canary Islands, Azores, and the Bay of Biscay in France, among other coastal regions, which is how it ended up with the botanical name Lobularia maritima, with 'maritima' meaning 'of the sea'.  It grows naturally on sandy dunes, which explains why it is so fabulously drought tolerant.

Of course, the ability to be drought tolerant and reseed itself around can be both a blessing and a bother.  As great as it is in my garden, beware that in dryer, sandier areas it can be a little too giving, and in California it has managed to land itself on the invasive list.

Sweet Alyssum thriving in my hellstrip
Would you be surprised to find out that Sweet Alyssum can actually be a short-lived perennial?  In warm climates, it will live more than a year.  It has no chance of living through our type of winter, but for now all the little blooms are a welcome addition to the fall garden...


and much appreciated by a lot of little guys.

23 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, yes! Sweet alyssum is wonderful. SO fragrant and the bees adore it. Only problem is being a brassica so do the harlequin bugs and a new one called the Bagrada bug. I have it in my alyssum and it is so hard to control. Hope it doesn't come you way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! I haven't seen either in my garden yet, but I will be on the lookout. Next year I'm planning to grow a lot of broccoli and cauliflower in the veggie garden, so I sure hope they stay away!

      Delete
  2. I was given a bag of wildflower seeds that I thought had been destroyed when I accidentally left it by the fire place for several weeks during the dead of winter. I thought the heat had roasted them so I threw them out for the birds. The birds ignored them and they grew instead! I ended up with alyssum growing in the cracks of my patio steps. It was so pretty, I scattered more seeds last week, hoping for the same result. Ya gotta love a tough, drought resistant plant that attracts pollinators. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love how it's one of those plants where you can just throw seeds around and end up with lots of pretty flowers! :) Nice and easy, just like I like!

      Delete
  3. I love sweet alyssum, gorgeous plant and underappreciated. I also read your post about the woodticks, oh, I hate those darn things! Luckily this year I didn't find any on me (last year I had one embedded) but the chickens do love to eat them. So hopefully they'll stay ahead of the ticks from now on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard how chickens are some of the best things to have around in areas high with ticks. I've told my husband we need to get some, but he's still pretty resistant against it. I guess to be fully effective against ticks we'd want to let them roam around the woods if we got them, which would make them a nice target for all the local dogs, coyotes, snakes, and hawks...

      Delete
  4. Hello Darling Indie on Sunday morning.
    A wonderful post on an autumn day. Wonderful fragrant flowers.
    Greetings to you and your family.
    Lucia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Happy Sunday to you, and enjoy all the beautiful fall scenery near you, Lucia!

      Delete
  5. Look at that! So much I didn't know or appreciate about these little flowers. Strange that they're so hardy considering where they come from.
    We're also going through the thermometer roller-coaster. I'm a little annoyed we had such a hard freeze and now things have been so warm for so long. My dahlias are resprouting from the roots, they think its spring already.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daffodils have started coming up already in this weird weather! I have been enjoying planting all my bulbs in such great weather, though. I think it's the first time my hands are not freezing to death during bulb planting!

      Delete
  6. When I left for Europe, my alyssum was in bloom after a summer rest. It was nice to see it bloom from seed. I do like the fragrance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It smells so nicely! I hope you are enjoying your trip!

      Delete
  7. Oh yes, they are beautiful little flowers. And they smell wonderful! Mine went a little dormant in the heat of summer and never really came back, but I think they might perform better in a slightly different spot. I like to grow them in pots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually have to be careful to give mine a little extra water when it's hot in summer or else they die off. I'm pretty neglectful, too, so I'm rather surprised the ones in my hell strip are doing so well, since I don't remember watering them hardly at all!

      Delete
  8. I have admired this plant for years. I tried to grow it once, but I think I may be too far south for it to be successful. Yours is wonderful and doubly so because it gives something for the pollinators late in the season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It doesn't like the heat as much, so maybe it would be better grown in part shade down south. Or maybe as a fall/spring thing like pansies? I wonder how long it would last into the winter down there. I've also heard the white varieties are hardier and better with heat than the colored varieties.

      Delete
  9. This is a great little plant ! It's fragrance reminds me of very fine incense and it's toughness is much appreciated in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really do love the smell. Not too many fragrant plants wafting their scent throughout the garden in November!

      Delete
  10. Great photos of the little creatures visiting your garden! I didn't plant any alyssum this year--I don't know why--but I will have to remedy that next year. It's such a great plant for edging a flower bed. I've even had it return the next year occasionally, depending on what kind of winter we've had.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a bunch of white alyssum near my front walkway that is just from reseeded itself from last year. I was so tickled that it did that! All I had to do was move the seedlings where I wanted them. I'm hoping the purple and white mix in my hell strip reseeds for next year too!

      Delete
  11. Thanks for the tip on Alyssum being drought tolerant. Re: daylilies -- I have lost about 5 of the daylilies I've purchased in the last 5 years. I've come to the conclusion, and Meta agreed when I asked her about it, that they have to be lifted every other year with a pitchfork to keep them from getting buried too deep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll have to remember that. All my daylilies have been planted within the last couple of years. I'll bet a couple of mine will have to be dug back up after being half buried by some of our lawn work.

      Delete
    2. I think I'd try to lift them before the ground freezes this year. Once buried to deep, they seem to just wither away.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...