Sweet Alyssum: Progress Report

My blog software statistics (thanks, WordPress) tell me that I get a lot of visits from folks looking up Sweet Alyssum.  Today, I thought I’d give you an update on the progress of this annual in my garden — gardens, actually. I sowed the seeds with the intention of interplanting the flowers with my veggies to entice pollinators and aphid eaters to the garden.

But some of you may recall that I got a tad carried away when I sowed these tiny seeds in my greenhouse back in February. I ended up with approximately a gazillion plants. I told you why I wanted to plant them here. I described the initial germination results for these flowers here. Then I mentioned their early enthusiastic progress here.

After I had interplanted some of my Sweet Alyssums with the vegetables, I realized I had quite a few left over. I decided to plant one entire bed in this flower. Understand that my vegetable beds are just shy of twenty feet long and about four feet wide. Here is what that bed looked like a couple of days ago:

Twenty feet of Sweet Alyssums

The picture doesn’t really do them justice. The bed is visually stunning. You can also smell the sweet, but not overpowering perfume of the flowers from quite a distance away. I was standing beside them a few hours ago while Wonder Spouse was harvesting some sweet onions and a few garlics, and the longer I stared at them, the more different kinds of insects I realized were visiting these flowers. I saw numerous species of solitary bees, several different beetles, fireflies, and even a few butterflies stopped by for a quick drink.

No lacewings — which is funny, since those insects were what the Sweet Alyssums were supposed to attract. But the lacewings may have stopped by and then moved on due to lack of their favorite snack: aphids. So far this year, my garden has been astonishingly aphid-free (knock wood). I have no idea why.

I also tucked in a few Sweet Alyssums along the front entry walk to our house. They looked great early on, but now the Lantanas-That-Will-Not-Die (a story for another time) are rapidly overshadowing them. The Sweet Alyssums valiantly persist, but they are undeniably getting squeezed.

All in all, I’d say I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth from these beautiful, fragrant annuals. And the best part is they’re still going strong, despite a record early heat wave that had us sweltering with 100-degree-plus heat indexes before May was even over.

I can see why so many Internet searchers want to know about this delicate, but surprisingly tough flower. It will most definitely remain on my must-plant list for future vegetable (and other) gardens.

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  1. #1 by Karen on June 6, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Hello, I just discovered your site and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading it. You have a great greenhouse to start your plants. I like sweet alyssum also. I was told several years ago to plant sweet alyssum in my vegetable gardens to attract bees for pollination. Not only does it look pretty, it attracts braconid wasps which are predators of those awful horn worms.

  2. #2 by piedmontgardener on June 6, 2011 - 3:03 pm

    Hi, Karen! I’m glad you like what you see. 🙂 Yes, I love my little greenhouse. It makes it so much easier to start plants from scratch, thereby saving money by not buying young plants. Of course, the down side is that it is so much easier that I tend to get a bit carried away planting too much.

    Such is the life of an obsessed gardener. 🙂

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