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What is a Candytuft Plant?

what-is-a-candytuft-plant?

Here’s an in-depth look at the candytuft plants where you can learn about their characteristics, reproduction, growing conditions, and uses. We’ve also added some tips on how to grow and propagate these ground-hugging evergreens.

Iberis Sempervirens

Iberis is a genus of flowering plants that is part of the brassica botanical family (brassicaceae). This genus is comprised of 30 different plant types, including evergreens, annuals, perennials, and subshrubs.

The name candytuft does that actually derive from the word candy (though their beautiful flowers do kind of look like lovely candies), but from the word candia. This is a greek word that was once the former name of Ikraklion, which is the largest city on the Island of Crete. This plant is native to Mediterranean locations.

This beautiful, flowering evergreen perennial is more than worth the effort of its care. When taken care of properly, it has the ability to bloom in the early spring, persist throughout the summer, and sometimes bloom again come fall.

This plant is native to Europe, though has become naturalized all over the world and used as a border plant, for pathway edging, or simply as a lovely ornamental plant. In the language of flowers, the candytuft represents indifference! (Whatever that means).

Though the candytuft isn’t particularly the easiest plant species to care for, it will provide elegance to any outdoor or indoor space. If iberis sempervirens isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, head on over to our list of Amazing Flowering Plants where you’re sure to find the perfect addition to your garden, balcony, or front window.

Table of Contents

What do Candytuft Plants Look Like?

Flowers

Candytuft plants produce flowers in masses of striking white flowers, though they can sometimes come in pink or lilac as well. These clusters of flowers are relatively late bloomers and emerge in full force in April or May.

The petals of a candytuft flower are small and create lovely patterns that are very effective in attracting bees, butterflies, wasps, and hummingbirds. Though lovely for pollinators, these snowy white flowers actually have a rather unpleasant smell to humans!

Growth Pattern

Candytuft plants behave like ground cover plants or as a sub shrub. Their rich green foliage covers the ground completely. The plants stay quite close to the ground and only grow to be between 12 and 18 inches tall.

Leaves

Candytuft leaves are alternately arranged along a stem and simple in shape. These narrow leaves are linear to oblong and slightly resemble the appearance of a rosemary spring! A leaf is a dark green color and is semi evergreen in warmer climates.

Where do Candytuft Flowers Grow?

The candytuft is a native plant to the southern countries of Europe, and along the coast of the Mediterranean. They prefer to live in sunny locations that don’t receive too much annual precipitation, as they are a very drought tolerant plant.

They have become naturalized in many other places in the world, and grow very successfully in USDA zones 4 through 8.

How do you Grow Candytufts?

Growing candytufts can be done in one of two ways, if you would like to try your hand at propagation or sowing seeds instead of purchasing a plant from a nursery.

You needn’t be an expert gardener to achieve this, and if you follow some simple steps, you will soon enough be enjoying the explosive white flower clusters of the candytuft plant.

Sow Seed

One was to grow a candytuft plant is by planting your own seeds. First off, choose a place in your garden that receives full sun exposure, and ensure that it is not at the base of a hill (as water runoff can waterlog the soil).

Then wait until all threat of frost has passed. They perform best when the soil has warmed up to be at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Punch little holes in the soil about 6 inches apart, place the seed in the hole, and cover lightly. This distancing will ensure that the plant grows as a groundcover plant.

When plants are first being established, they should receive healthy amounts of watering so that the soil doesn’t go too dry. Once seedlings start to emerge, lay off the watering slightly.

Propagation

Another way to plant your own candytuft is by taking cuttings from another plant. It is best to take softwood cuttings of an existing plant, and propagate in midsummer.

Select a stem that is long, green, and appears as being very healthy. Place the cutting in a pot of loose, nitrogen rich soil. Though taking root may take a while, the subsequent plant will be very healthy.

Otherwise, propagation can also be done through root division by taking one large plant and diving it into 2 or 3 individual plants.

Ensure that a sturdy amount of branches and roots and taken for each clump, and plant them in the ground in the fall right before their winter dormancy phase. Come late spring time, they will be entirely ready for a prosperous growing season.

What are the Growing Conditions of the Candytuft plant?

Soil Type

Candytuft plants can grow in almost any soil type, though they prefer to grow in soil that is very well drained. They perform best in soil that is more alkaline than it is acidic, and acidic soil should be amended with as much lime as possible.

They do very well in gravelly soil that is loose, indicating how important it is that they have soil that is well drained and never waterlogged. They are far more drought tolerant than they are flood tolerant.

Sun Exposure

The candytuft is a very sun loving plant, and they don’t seem to perform too well in partial shade conditions.

Water Level

Candytufts don’t require too much precipitation to be happy. They are a wonderfully drought tolerant plant, but it is important to ensure that young plants that aren’t fully established receive water during dry periods. Otherwise, mature plants seem to be happy with natural rainfall.

It is also important to know that the native growing regions of these plants have a much drier air quality, and they don’t do very well in areas that receive a lot of humidity, as the flowers tend to wilt.

Temperature

Candytufts aren’t too particular about temperature when they are mature, but a young plant has some more specific requirements. Young plants should be introduced to their outdoors only once temperatures have warmed to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, usually in the early summer.

In colder regions, they behave like a perennial candytuft, whereas in warmer regions they behave as an evergreen candytuft. Their evergreen foliage is part of the reasons why they are a popular ornamental plant.

Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizer, it is not entirely necessary for a candytuft. Though it has been observed that using fertilizer can sometimes help ensure abundant blooms and a longer growing season. A slow release, low nitrogen-high phosphorous mix seems to do the trick when applied in the early spring.

Pruning

Properly pruning your candytuft plant is a very important part of its care. Pruning should be done every so often to prevent short blooming seasons, and to make sure that they don’t become too tall and spindly.

This woody plant is most attractive when treated as a herbaceous perennial, so prune away the top third of the plants’ foliage after it blooms. This will guarantee fresh new growth and keeps the shape of the plant nice and neat.

Intolerances

All in all, the candytuft isn’t too picky of a grower. As long as its water level remains moderate and it is in full sun conditions, it should be happy.

How are Candytuft Plants Used?

Ornamental

Candytufts make for a wonderful ornamental plant. They act as a great, dense ground cover plant, and are often used for pathway edging or as a border plant. They make for an excellent addition to a rock garden as a low growing shrub.

They aren’t too tall to take away from the beauty of your showstopper garden plants, but they still provide a lovely background. They can be used for mass planting in public spaces as they grow relatively well without too much care.

Wildlife

The flowers of the candytuft plant are very efficient at attracting pollinators like bees, wasps, hummingbirds, and moths. They are an important part of the local ecosystem for this reason.

This bedding plant also provides a wonderful habitat for beneficial insects that can be protected by its tidy evergreen foliage and its ground hugging habit.

FAQs

Are candytufts perennial?

Depending on their growing region, candytufts can behave as either a perennial plant or as an annual plant. They have a perennial behaviour in southern and warmer regions, and they have an annual behaviour in northern and colder regions.

Can candytufts be planted indoors?

Candytufts can absolutely be planted indoors as a houseplant and kept in a pot. That being said, their ability to grow as a ground cover plant may seem wasted when they are confined to a pot or container.

Are candytufts deer resistant?

The candytuft plant is not deer resistant in the slightest. Some may even say that this plant is like candy to deer and rabbits!

Are candytufts drought tolerant?

Candytufts don’t require too much precipitation to be happy. They are a wonderfully drought tolerant plant, but it is important to ensure that young plants that aren’t fully established receive water during dry periods. Otherwise, mature plants seem to be happy with natural rainfall.

It is also important to know that the native growing regions of these plants have a much drier air quality, and they don’t do very well in areas that receive a lot of humidity, as the flowers tend to wilt.

How should you prune a candytuft?

Properly pruning your candytuft plant is a very important part of its care. Pruning should be done every so often to prevent short blooming seasons, and to make sure that they don’t become too tall and spindly.

This woody plant is most attractive when treated as a herbaceous perennial, so prune away the top third of the plants’ foliage after it blooms. This will guarantee fresh new growth and keeps the shape of the plant nice and neat.

Can candytuft survive frost?

When temperatures become too low, the candytuft plant goes into a dormancy phase. If a young or unestablished plant experiences frost, there is a chance that it won’t survive.

What do candytuft seeds like look?

Candytufts seeds are very small and a light brown color. They almost look like a handful of very very tiny raisins.

What does candytuft symbolize?

In the language of flowers, the candytuft represents indifference!

Should you deadhead a candytuft?

This woody plant is most attractive when treated as a herbaceous perennial, so prune away the top third of the plants’ foliage after it blooms. This will guarantee fresh new growth and keeps the shape of the plant nice and neat.

What does candytuft smell like?

Candytuft flowers actually have a rather unpleasant smell to humans, and have a slight sour musty aroma.

What colours do candytuft flowers come in?

A candytuft flower, depending on the cultivar, can be either white, pink, or lilac in color.

How do you keep candytuft blooming?

When it comes to fertilizer, it is not entirely necessary for a candytuft. Though it has been observed that using fertilizer can sometimes help ensure abundant blooms and a longer growing season. A slow release, low nitrogen-high phosphorous mix seems to do the trick when applied in the early spring.

Does candytuft grow in shade?

The candytuft is a very sun loving plant, and they don’t seem to perform too well in partial shade conditions.

What do candytuft leaves look like?

Candytuft leaves are alternately arranged along a stem and simple in shape. These narrow leaves are linear to oblong and slightly resemble the appearance of a rosemary sprig! A leaf is a dark green color and is semi evergreen in warmer climates.

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