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Iberis umbellata (candytuft) is one of the easiest annuals to grow, and is a perfect summer annual for growing in almost any setting.
Commonly grown as an edging plant or in window boxes, Iberis umbellata is native to the Mediterranean region and found growing wild through most of Europe.
These wildflower plants common along the coasts and even found in parts of Spain and Greece.
It’s part of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbage and mustard family of plants.
Pronounced [eye-BEER-is] [um-bell-AY-tuh], the epithet for the species comes from the Latin word for umbrella, describing the shape of the inflorescence.
People also refer to this plant as candytuft, due to the tufts of a candy-like inflorescence.
To separate it from evergreen (Iberis sempervirens), and perennial varieties of Iberis, additional common names include:
- Annual candytuft
- Globe candytuft
As one of the easiest annuals to grow from seed, candytufts don’t require a lot of special attention.
With proper care they will produce fuller longer-lasting blooms.
Iberis Umbellata Care
Size and Growth
These small late summer annuals produce thin stems with narrow, pointed leaves.
The green foliage ranges in size from 6″ to 16″ inches with an equal spread, depending on the specific variety.
Candytufts are fast-growing plants, effortlessly filling gardens or containers.
As annuals, the plants die out after flowering.
Candytuft Blooms, Flowers and Fragrance
The Iberis umbellata grows clusters of umbel-shaped flowers of varying shades including white, pink, red, purple, or lavender flowers.
Flower seed packets are available containing individual varieties or a mixture of colors.
The clusters of flowers bloom in the early summer when sowing seeds in early spring.
By sowing several times throughout the spring, gardens can enjoy several blooms lasting through the fall.
The flowers produce a pleasant fragrance and attract butterflies, bees, and birds.
Light and Temperature
Candytufts are not picky plants. They grow well in most conditions, except deep partial shade or extremely wet spots.
While they tolerate various climates, these plants grow best under bright full sun and warm weather.
Candytufts are also sensitive to frost. Wait until after the last threat of frost before moving seedlings outdoors or sowing outdoors.
Watering and Feeding
When grown in containers or pots, candytufts require regular watering while allowing the soil to partially dry each time.
During dry periods, mist the plants using a spray bottle.
The plants don’t need fertilizer.
Avoid overwatering the plant, as it tends to limit the bloom and may cause flowers to wither early.
During periods of excessive rain, the plants may decline.
To prevent this problem, shield the plants when expecting severe weather.
Soil and Transplanting
Candytufts do not require transplanting, except when moving seedlings to larger containers or the garden.
Grow in loamy garden soil or regular potting soil with good drainage.
In March or early April, sow the seeds indoors in pots or planter trays.
The seeds should germinate in about one week when kept at temperatures between 68° and 70° degrees Fahrenheit.
When the seedlings are upright, separate them into bigger pots.
In May, move the plants outdoors or into containers. These annuals grow best outdoors and may not bloom well indoors.
After May, sow the seeds outdoors, whether growing in pots or the garden.
With multiple sowings, the blooms can last through the middle of fall.
When transplanting the seedlings, space the plants at least six inches apart.
Candytufts become weak when grown close together.
Grooming and Maintenance
When the flowers bloom, remove the seed heads to prolong the flowering period.
How To Propagate Iberis Candytuft Plants
While it’s possible to collect the candytuft seeds from the flowering plants.
Most people buy packets of seeds and sow several times during the year.
- After flowering, candytufts produce seeds with winged edges.
- Cover the seed heads in small plastic bags secured with rubber bands.
- Allow the candytuft flower seed head to dry on the plant.
- After the heads dry and darken, remove them and collect the seeds.
- Spread the seeds on a paper towel and remove any debris before storing in an envelope.
- Sow the seeds the following spring.
Globe Candytuft Pests or Diseases?
Snails and garden slugs tend to enjoy the seedlings when sown outdoors.
Use snail bait or try using diatomaceous earth to protect the seedlings and inspect the plants regularly or remove the pests by hand.
If the plants fail to produce full blooms, they likely need more sunlight.
Move potted plants to a brighter spot.
If it’s still early in the season, candytufts grown in gardens may survive transplanting.
Candytufts are not generally invasive, but the USDA has reported it as invasive at one time in San Diego County, California.
Uses For Iberis Plants
Candytufts are fast-growing annuals, providing an easy solution for filling a small balcony garden, or patios with bright flowers.
Remember to sow several times to enjoy longer-lasting blooms.
Cut flowers also last long when gathered for vases.