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Iberis sempervirens - a Garden Gem

Iberis sempervirens - a Garden Gem

Posted by Bloomin Designs Nursery on Jun 22, 2024

Iberis sempervirens is truly a Garden Gem

Iberis sempervirens delivers attractive evergreen foliage throughout the year, providing a stunning spring display of white flowers. The profusion of flowers, nearly hiding the foliage, brightens up garden spaces, while attracting a variety of pollinators. With its minimal care requirements and ability to thrive in various conditions, it is a rewarding plant that will bring beauty and life to your garden spaces.

Commonly known as evergreen candytuft or perennial candytuft, this charming plant adds a touch of elegance to garden beds and borders. Its low-growing habit makes it ideal for edging borders, paths, or walkways and is picturesque in rock gardens or spilling over the edges of raised beds. A native to southern Europe, Iberis sempervirens thrives in warm, sunny conditions and is frost hardy.

  • Pronunciation: i-BEE-ris sem-per-VI-renz
  • Common Name: candytuft
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Native Range: Southern Europe
  • Zone: 3 to 8
  • Height: 6 inches to 1 foot
  • Spread: 6 inches to 18 inches
  • Bloom Time: typically, April to May
  • Bloom Description: White
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Water: Medium
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Suggested Use: Ground Cover
  • Flower: Showy
  • Attracts: Butterflies
  • Tolerates: Rabbit, Deer, Drought

Iberis sempervirens’ low growing, dark green, spreading evergreen subshrub foliage, typically forms a mound 6-12 inches tall and 12-18 inches wide. Besides adding color during winter months, in late winter to early summer, the plant bursts into an abundance of dense small, white flowers clusters. The 4-petaled flowers are often accented with delicate yellow centers, further enhancing their charm. With its low-growing habit, evergreen foliage, and profuse clusters of white flowers, Iberis sempervirens is a versatile addition to various garden settings.

Iberis sempervirens prefers well-drained, medium moisture, slightly alkaline to neutral soil and thrives in full sun. Moderately salt-tolerant, Iberis sempervirens can tolerate slightly acidic to alkaline, sandy-loamy to loamy, nutrient-rich soils in sunny to light shady locations, though it is less floriferous if grown in part shade. Relatively drought-tolerant once established, regular watering during dry periods is beneficial.

To encourage continued blooming, as flowers fade, trim plants slightly to maintain their shape and promote new growth. Plant stems may be cut back or sheered by up to 1/3 after flowering to encourage new growth and to maintain compact habit. In cold winter climates, mulch plants with a modest covering of evergreen boughs in winter help minimize potential damage from sun scorch and desiccation. Plant foliage often benefits in winter from snow cover.

Iberis sempervirens can be planted in spring or fall. Space plants about 6-12 inches apart to allow for their spreading habit. After planting, water thoroughly with regular watering during the first season or until a strong plant root system is established.

Iberis sempervirens is easily propagated by division or stem cuttings. To divide plants, carefully remove them from the ground and gently separate the root clumps. Replant the divided clumps into individual pots or directly into the garden. Stems may root where they touch the ground creating new plants, which can be left as is or transplanted to other areas.

For stem cuttings, take 4-6-inch-long healthy stems from the plant in the spring or summer. Remove the lower leaves and dip the cuttings in rooting hormone. Insert the cuttings into moist potting mix and place them in a warm, shaded location. Keep the potting mix moist until the cuttings have rooted and are ready to be transplanted.

Candytuft has no serious insect or disease issues. Caterpillars, slugs, and snails can be a problem. Downey mildew, powdery mildew, fungal leaf spots, and rust occasionally occur. Consistently wet soil can lead to crown rot. Cold winters can cause sun-scorched leaves.

Cultivars include:

Iberis is so named because many members of the genus come from the Iberian Peninsula in southwest Europe. Sempervirens means "always green", referring to the evergreen foliage.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Rosids
  • Order: Brassicales
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Genus: Iberis
  • Species: I. sempervirens
  • Binomial name: Iberis sempervirens
  • Previously known as: Iberis commutata

Iberis sempervirens is a charming and versatile addition to any garden, adding a touch of elegance and color during the spring and summer seasons.