Alyssum is a genus of more than 100 species of plants loved for their beautiful tiny flowers, low, spreading growth, and sweet, honeyed scent.
The Alyssum flower meaning reflects the delicate romantic flowers beauty, with the main Sweet alyssum meaning being worth beyond beauty or sweetness of the soul.
Alyssum flowers are a sweetly-fragrant bloom that sprawls out or grows in mounds. These hardy annuals thrive in USDA zones 1-8 and are a popular choice for landscaping.
These flowers are easy to care for, with a hardy resistance to pests and diseases. The botanical name of the sweet Alyssum is Lobularia maritima. There are 100 to 200 species in the Alyssum genus, which belongs to the Brassicaceae family.
History of Alyssum
The name Alyssum comes from Alysson – a Latin word derived from alusson, which is a Greek word meaning “a” (without) and “lussa” (rabies).
Today, it’s a more common translation means without madness. For example, the name Lobularia translates to a small pod, referring to the shape and size of the fruit.
This plant was first popular with ancient cultures for its restraint and gentility significance. Then it became significant in the Victorian age before moving into Wicca cultures.
Characteristics of the Alyssum Flower
Alyssum produces clusters of small flowers and small oval to lance leaves on branching stems. These annual shrubs bloom in early summer, having yellow, pink, purple, red, and orange flowers.
These compact plants grow less than a foot in height, with less than one-foot spread. The sprawling mounds become heavy from spring through summer with clusters of tiny flowers. Each flower has four round petals and six stamens with yellow anthers.
How to Grow and Care For Alyssum
The Alyssum flower is a low-maintenance plant once established. But while your plants are young, they require extra attention.
Your plants will need well-draining soil so the roots aren’t left sitting in standing water, which can cause wilting and eventually death to the plant. A simple potting soil will suffice for a proper drain of potted plants. Compost, potting soil, or sand can improve drainage of ground planted flowers.
Newer variants of the Alyssum plant have a higher drought resistance. As a result, it’s more common to see Asylum flowers experiencing problems from overwatering rather than underwatering.
Ground Alyssum flowers need weekly waterings when there isn’t adequate rainfall. But wait to water container plants until the top two inches of dirt dry out. New plants will require more water every few days to make them establish faster and healthier.
Your Alyssum will love a spot with full sun and reach its full potential. But they can still grow well in partial shade. In hot climates, the shade may be beneficial to keep your plants from getting sunburnt. Likewise, container plants do better in the shade, as the full sun causes the soil to dry out faster.
You’ll rarely need to prune your Alyssum plants, but deadheading – picking off dead blooms – can encourage new flowers to grow. You can pinch off dead flowers as you notice them; or wait and do it weekly.
Alyssum has non-toxic properties for people, livestock, and pets (dogs and cats). But be careful if you’re growing the variation Berteroa incana – hoary alyssum – which has toxicity to horses.
Uses of Alyssum Flower
Alyssum has multiple uses, although it’s most prized for its beautiful small clusters of flowers and sweet scent.
Ornaments and Butterfly Gardens
Alyssum flowers are fantastic to plant in pollinator gardens to attract bees, butterflies, and flies. These pollinators like the flower’s bright colors and sweet smell. These flowers also look great in moon and fairy gardens.
Natural Pest Control
Ladybugs and hoverflies appreciate the taste of Alyssum and can prevent your plants from aphid infestations.
Herbalism and Medicine
For centuries, numerous cultures have used Alyssum for medicinal purposes. However, no modern doctors or research supports these uses.
Alyssum flowers have treated abdominal pain, bleeding gums, coughs, gonorrhea, scurvy, and rabies. They can also promote urine secretion, remove fluids from your body, and boost renal functions.
To use Alyssum medicinally, you have to eat a young plant’s flowers, stems, and leaves. You can mix these in with a salad for easier eating. Consult a licensed doctor before using these flowers to treat any illness.
Food and Drink
Because Alyssum belongs to the same family as greens like kale, chard, and collards, you can use it as an edible garnish to stir-fries or salads. But if you plan to use these for a snack, only eat flowers that you’ve produced from Alyssum seed. Nurseries often used chemicals to treat their plants.
Alyssum Flower Facts
The most popular Alyssum species is Lobularia maritima (also previously known as Alyssum maritimum). This flower has a preference for sea air, hence the name.
There is another flower, Aurinia axatilis, commonly referred to as an alyssum, due to a similar look.
Other names for Alyssum include Sweet Alyssum, Mastuerzo Maritimo (Spanish), Sweet Alison, or Alysson Maritime (French).
Alyssum Flower Meaning
In floriography, Alyssum’s meaning is “sweetness of the soul” or “worth beyond beauty.” However, while it can have a symbolic meaning of beauty, it can also have negative associations of anger and bitterness.
In witchcraft, the Alyssum flower’s meaning is to protect against cold spells, keep from being misled, avoid anger and feel calm.
This plant has ties with the planet Mercury – associated with relationships and self-expression. It’s sympathetic to air and is in tune with its breathable, light qualities.
Wonderland White alyssum produces tiny delicate white flowers shaped like stars that form
stunning ground coverage.
Violet Queen is another beautiful annual low-grower that produces a delightful honey scent. The vibrant lilac flowers and green leaves sprawl out for dense ground cover that thrives in partial shade or full sun and is mildly drought tolerant.
Tiny Tim is a dwarf version that does not get more than 3″ tall. This variant produces small white flowers and a delicate honey aroma. You can enjoy these flowers throughout summer with a 6 to 7-day germination.
Sweet White – also called Sweet Allison – is an ice white Mediterranean native flower with heady honey-scented nectar. As a hardy annual, these 6″ tall four-petaled flowers are edible and commonly used for breakfast menus, including omelets.
Snow Drift also has four petals and produces delicate white flowers in spherical sprays. These flowers reach their peak bloom period through summer.
Snow Crystals are an easy, robust mound-growing variant with more significant flowers of ice white. These bushes grow to less than a foot in length and a foot in width. This species prefers cooler weather, withering in hot temperatures or winds.
Rosie O’ Day
Rosie O’Day produces charming fresh pink flowers – sometimes white – of varying hues. These plants grow to widths of 10″ with a 4″ height. During early summer, it takes eight to ten weeks to bloom in moderately damp to rich soil.
Purple alyssum – oriental nigh – has a spicy aroma and a hardy toughness. This variant has six to eight tiny clusters of lilac flowers and only grows to heights of 10 to 15 centimeters. These flowers are frequently used for container growing or ornamental gardens and are in vibrant bloom June through October.
New Carpet of Snow
The annual strand New Carpet of Snow grows thick and low in various conditions, reaching heights of 3″ to 8″. This plant can handle frigid temperatures and different weather conditions, including rock gardens, hanging baskets, or borders.
The Navy Blue alyssum comes in rich dark purple and deep aqua tones and produces a sweet, heavily-intoxicating honey scent. These gorgeous shrubs grow to heights of 4″ and can survive on little to no water in typical soil conditions and indirect or direct lighting.
Royal Carpet (Purple)
One of the prettiest varieties of Alyssum, Royal Carpet is an annual ground-cover plant that grows 2″ to 4″ tall and 2″ to 4″ wide. The seductive beauty of the tiny purple and white flowers clusters is a heavy attractant for pollinators and insects.
Alyssum Flower FAQ
Want to know more about the Alyssum Flower? Check out these commonly asked questions.
Do Alyssum Flowers Smell?
Alyssums produce a subtle, sweet smell similar to honey that can emit from the plant before the flowers bloom.
Best Time to Gift Someone Alyssum Flowers?
You can gift Alyssum flowers for multiple occasions, including proposals, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, parties, and Valentine’s Day. A white Alyssum can also be an appropriate condolence sentiment for losing a loved one.
Does Alyssum Like Sun or Shade?
Although it can tolerate partial shade, Alyssum grows best in full sun, especially on hot days. Plants grown in containers prefer shade over full sun exposure.
Are Alyssum Flowers Perrenials?
Alyssum flowers work as annuals in all USDA zones except 9 and 10, where the flowers can grow as perennials.
With a delicate look and fragrant scent, it’s no wonder the Sweet alyssum flower meaning is worth beyond beauty or without madness. Other symbolic meanings are bitterness and anger. And some alyssum flowers are even edible.