Mysterious alyssum

lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)May 14, 2008

My neighbor on the corner has an alyssum bed that smells heavanly whenever I walk by in the evenings. This bed seems to be perennial. I've lived there for years and the plants are always exactly the same and I don't see him bedding them out every year or replanting the garden. (I go by on a daily basis and I know my gardening, I would be able to tell). Me on the other hand, I can't get alyssum to even grow, let alone smell good and last. I buy mine at the nursery. For some odd reason I have never had luck with alyssum.

My question are - are the standard nursery varieties the ones that smell, or do you have to look for special alyssum stock to get fragrance? Any special colors? I know that only the purple nursery petunias smell worth a darn. Is there a perennial fragrant alyssum variety? Should I maybe try to grow these plants from seed, and if so, what is a good source for seeds of the old fashioned, truly fragrant varieties?

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There are a bunch of plants called alyssum, the one you're talking about is probably sweet alyssum, aka lobularia maritima. I find it's usually honey-scented, especially in sunshine, but some more so than others, and it's hard to tell if it's the seed source, the growing conditions, or maybe the influence of little plant elves! You could try from seed, but I doubt there are specific varieties for fragrance, it's such a common annual, the only way to be sure is to visit a few nurseries and sniff 'em for yourself.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 5:54PM
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I'm willing to bet your neighbor is sprinkling seeds in early spring or the plants are self-sowing. Is it used as an edger? The white ones seem to be the most fragrant. They are one of the wonderful plants that seem to thrive on neglect. It seems a little early for them, but it is much colder here, esp. this spring.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 7:48AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

They're growing in the sun, and are all white. I guess they're self seeding. It's a large mat in a small bed, like a groundcover. Not in bloom yet really, but I notice it a lot later in the summer. I was at the nursery today, and it seems the white ones are the ones that smell. Unlike petunias, where the purple ones are the only smelly ones! I wonder if alyssum can overwinter? I seem to have zero luck with alyssum, but I'm going to try again. I can't understand it, they should be so hardy!
Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:48PM
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