Alyssum Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Alyssum plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Gold-dust, Baskets of Gold, & Madwort: Cultivation & Garden Use

The common names for the Hardy perennial and annual Alyssum plant genus include Gold-dust, Basket of gold, Sweet Alyssum, and Madwort.

They usually flower in the spring or summer.

Description of Madwort, Gold dust

Alyssum are low growing plants. Some Gold-dust plant species may be evergreen. They have stunning yellow flowers.

As a consequence of the plants low growing nature they are often used in rockeries, in dry stone walls, or as edging plants.

Alyssum photograph by Wallygrom.

Alyssum plants are a member of the Brassicaceae family, so are related to cabbages and mustards.

Alyssum Plant Species

Alyssum saxatile (Basket-of-Gold)

Alyssum saxatile is a perennial. Basket-of-Gold grows to about 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) tall. It features grey-green leaves and clusters of yellow flowers in spring.

This plant thrives in a location with full sun and well-drained soil. It's ideal for rock gardens, borders, or as a ground cover.

Alyssum maritimum (Sweet Alyssum)

Alyssum maritimum is now known as Lobularia maritima, and is an annual plant. It reaches a height of 3 to 6 inches (7-15 cm). Sweet Alyssum has linear leaves and clusters of small, white, fragrant flowers.

It prefers to grow in full sun and like good drainage. It can also be used in rock gardens, borders, or as a ground cover.

Alyssum montanum (Mountain Alyssum)

Alyssum montanum is a perennial plant that grows to 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm) tall. Mountain Alyssum bears grey-green leaves and clusters of bright yellow flowers in spring.

This plant thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.

Alyssum alyssoides (Yellow Alyssum)

Alyssum alyssoides is an annual plant that grows to about 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm) in height. Yellow Alyssum has narrow leaves and carries clusters of pale yellow flowers.

As with other Alyssum plants, it enjoys full sun and well-drained soil, and does well in rock gardens, borders, or for use as ground coverage.

How to Grow Gold-dust, Madwort

It is best to sow madwort, gold dust and similar species on the soil surface, with a spacing of 25 to 30 cm in either early spring or in the autumn.

Plants like to grow in light areas that are subjected to full sun.

The soil type is not overly important but ideally should be well drained, not too rich and have a pH between 5.6 and 7.4.

Alyssum requires between five and six days to germinate. If germinating plants indoor they should be grown for nine weeks, in cool temperatures and well lit conditions, before planting outdoors in the spring or autumn.

Caring for Alyssum in the Garden

Alyssum species such as Gold dust require watering during prolonged dry spells in the summer.

Following flowering stems should be cut back to about a 3/4 of their size to encourage good growth the following year.

Quick Alyssum Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Alyssum
  • Common Names: Sweet Alyssum, Carpet of Snow, Gold Dust.
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 3-9. RHS Hardiness Rating: H5 (Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters).
  • Best Used For / Garden Location: Ideal for rock gardens, borders, and ground cover. Plant in a location with full sun to partial shade.
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Annual / Herbaceous.
  • Plant Height: 3-9 inches (7.5-23 cm).
  • Plant Spread: 6-9 inches (15-23 cm).
  • Blooms: Spring to fall.
  • Flower Details: Small, four-petaled, fragrant flowers in clusters. Colors include white, pink, purple, and yellow.
  • Leaf Foliage: Grey-green leaves, tiny and oval-shaped.
  • Fruit: Small, inconspicuous seed pods.
  • Best Light Conditions: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained soils. Can tolerate poor soils.
  • Sowing, planting: Direct sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Germination time: 7-14 days at 55-75°F (13-24°C).
  • Propagation: By seeds.
  • Plant Care: Drought-tolerant once established. Deadhead to prolong flowering period.
  • Growing in pots and containers: Suitable for container growing. Ensure good drainage and regular watering.
  • Growing as an House plant: Can be grown as a houseplant in a sunny location.
  • Miscellaneous: Attracts butterflies. Resistant to deer and rabbits. Not invasive.
  • Pests and diseases: Generally pest-free. Watch out for fungal diseases in humid conditions.
  • Common Garden Species / Cultivars / Varieties: Alyssum maritimum (Sweet Alyssum) known for its fragrant white flowers; Alyssum saxatile (Basket of Gold) with bright yellow flowers.
  • Family: Brassicaceae, the Mustard family.
  • Native: Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
  • References and Further Reading: Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder - Alyssum.

Common Questions

How many members does the Alyssum genus have?

The Alyssum genus consists of about 100-170 species.

Do members of Alyssum make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Alyssum species, often known as Sweet Alyssum, are popular for their compact growth habit and sweet-smelling, abundant flowers.

Which Alyssum species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Alyssum maritimum, also known as Sweet Alyssum.

Are members of the Alyssum fragrant?

Yes, Alyssum flowers are known for their sweet, honey-like fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Alyssum?

Alyssum prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

Is Alyssum invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Alyssum is not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Alyssum from my garden?

Removal can be done by pulling or digging up the plants, ensuring to get all roots to prevent regrowth.


The Alyssum genus consists of annual and perennial plants that are known for their delicate flowers and delightful fragrance. These plants are native to the Mediterranean region and have become popular choices in gardens around the world. Alyssum plants thrive in well-drained soil and prefer full sun exposure, although they can tolerate some shade. Regular watering is important, especially during dry periods, to ensure healthy growth.

Growing Alyssum is relatively easy as they are low-maintenance plants. They can be propagated through seeds or cuttings, making them accessible for gardeners of all skill levels. Alyssum species are versatile and can be used in various garden settings such as borders, rock gardens, or as ground covers. Their beautiful carpet-like effect and pleasant fragrance add a touch of beauty and charm to any landscape. Whether used as a border plant or as a ground cover to fill empty spaces, Alyssum is a wonderful addition to create colorful and fragrant garden displays.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on Alyssum. You may also enjoy the following garden growing guides: How to grow Ionopsidium and Iberis plants.