The evergreen candytuft is an indispensable perennial with immense vibrancy for sunny locations that does not need much care and blooms tirelessly.
Profile of evergreen candytuft:
Scientific name: Iberis sempervirens
Plant family: mustard family (Brassicaceae)
Other names: perennial candytuft
Planting time: spring and summer
Flowering period: April to May
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: stony to loamy, moderately nutritious, low in humus
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: group planting, planters, dry stone walls, rock garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of evergreen candytuft
Plant order, origin and occurrence of evergreen candytuft
The genus of candytuft (Iberis) belongs to the large mustard family (Brassicaceae) and comprises around 40 different species, including annuals, perennials and dwarf shrubs. They are originally native to the mountainous regions of Southern Europe. The evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) is most valuable from a horticultural point of view.
Characteristics of evergreen candytuft
Like all candytufts, the evergreen candytuft grows like a mat and is up to 30 centimeters (12 in) high, depending on the variety. The popular rock garden plant has, as the name suggests, evergreen foliage.
The leathery, dark green leaves of the evergreen candytuft are lanceolate and about 2 to 4 centimeters (0.8 to 1.6 in) long.
Typical of all Iberis species are the four-petalled flowers, which are reminiscent of small bows. The brilliant white flowers of the evergreen candytuft sit in flattened, umbel-like inflorescences. Flowering time is from the end of April to the end of May. As the flowers of the evergreen candytuft fade, they turn pale pink. Other Iberis species, as well as some varieties of the evergreen candytuft, also bloom in purples, reds and pinks.
After flowering, small egg-shaped pods, each containing two winged seeds, develop on the plants.
Evergreen candytuft – cultivation and care
Evergreen candytufts prefer locations in full sun, but also tolerate a location in the partial shade.
The evergreen candytuft thrives best on mineral-sandy soils that are permeable and chalky. If the humus and nutrient content is too high, the candytuft tends to overgrow.
Planting and transplanting the candytuft is possible throughout spring and summer. Do not plant candytufts too close to their neighbors in the bed because they are sensitive to competition and grow in width over time. A distance of at least 30 to 40 centimeters (12 to 16 in) is ideal. For a dense polster you need about eight to ten plants per square meter (10 sq ft).
As a plant for the rock garden, evergreen candytuft stands too dry rather than too wet, so it only needs very little watering.
Annual fertilization in the form of compost increases vitality.
So that the plants retain their compact, green cushions, all shoots are cut back by about half to two thirds of their length after flowering. Otherwise, the plants will age from the middle over time, as mostly only the ends of the shoots are leafed. But don’t cut evergreen candytufts too late in autumn and under no circumstances cut into the old wood.
Candytufts can easily be propagated by cuttings of about 5 centimeters (2 in) long from non-flowering shoots. You simply cut them off and put them in a partially shaded, sheltered place in humus-rich, sufficiently moist soil. If you sprinkle the lower shoots with humus, they will also form roots. Evergreen candytufts also spread productively in favorable locations by self-seed, if the inflorescences are allowed to come to seed maturity.
Candytufts cannot be divided because they only have a thin, central main root.
Diseases and pests
Evergreen candytufts are occasionally attacked by white rust, powdery mildew or leaf spot diseases, especially in places that are too damp. Pest infestation, however, is very rare. Aphids only appear occasionally, but even slugs avoid the plants.
The evergreen candytuft is usually frost-resistant down to -20 °C / -5 °F, but you should cover it with brushwood in winter so the sun cannot dry it out.
Use in the garden
Evergreen candytufts grow in all types of rock gardens, on wall crowns and also in pots and trays. Since they are insensitive to environmental pollution, they can be planted well in the city garden. Other polster shrubs that bloom in spring, such as lilacbush (Aubrieta) or moss phlox (Phlox subulata), are ideal partners. Low iris varieties and botanical tulips also harmonize very well with evergreen candytufts.
- The variety ‘Snowflake’ blooms particularly richly and early
- ‘Dwarf Snowflake’ is more delicate in growth, but also very floriferous
- The snow-white cushions of ‘Snow Cushion’ are only 15 centimeters (6 in) high, including the flowers. They love sunny to partially shaded locations in well-drained soils
- The variety ‘Absolutely Amethyst’ has pink-violet flowers in a color that is very unusual for this species, but no less beautiful