Alyssum alyssum

Height: 5cm (2in)

Planting distance: 30cm (1ft)

Features: flowers summer

Soil: well-drained

Site: full sun

Type: evergreen rock plant

Type: evergreen sub-shrub

A spectacular sheet of colour, formed by hundreds of tiny, cross-shaped flowers in bright shades of yellow and gold, covers the foliage of alyssum from late spring to early summer. This sub-shrubby plant has grey or grey-green foliage growing close to the ground.

The smaller species are suitable for rock gardens, and the larger ones look attractive at the front of a border or alongside a path.

Popular species and varieties:

Alyssum montanutn grows up to 15cm (6in) high and across. The mat of spoon-shaped leaves is grey-green and the flowers are bright yellow. Alyssum saxatile (syn. Aurinia saxatilis) (gold dust) has dense, golden yellow flowerheads and narrow, tapering, grey-green leaves. It grows up to 30cm (1 ft) high and 45cm (1 1/2ft) across. Popular varieties include ‘Citrinum’ (bright lemon-gold flowers), ‘Compactum’ (a dwarf variety with dense growth and golden yellow flowers), ‘Dudley Neville’ (a compact plant with buff-yellow flowers and grey-green leaves) and ‘Flore Plcno’ (double, golden yellow flowers). Alyssum serpyllifolium is slightly less hardy than the other species. It grows up to 5cm (2in) high and 50cm (1 ft) across. The oval, grey leaves are hidden during early summer by numerous clear yellow flowerheads.


Plant between early autumn and early spring in a sunny position in ordinary, well-drained garden soil. Cut back hard after flowering to keep the plants compact and to prolong their life.

Propagation: Take 5-7.5cm (2-3in) cuttings in early summer or sow seeds in a cold frame in early spring. Plant out in permanent positions in early autumn.

Pests and diseases: Young plants may be eaten by slugs, and flea beetles may eat small holes in seedling leaves. Downy mildew can stunt the plants, making the leaves curl.

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