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Iberis – Candytuft – Spring Blooming Perennial

Iberis sempervirens, commonly known as perennial candytuft, is one of the first spring bloomers —- and one of the best.

I position this evergreen plant with it’s mass of brilliant white blooms sporadically along the edges of my borders. It gets 6 to 12 inches tall and over a 3 year period can spread 2 or 3 feet.

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Iberis Sempervirens blooming in late April by our entrance steps.

How to Get More

For years I never seemed to be able to have it in the abundance I wanted. It is said to reseed, but I certainly haven’t noticed that in my borders. I’d always take cuttings in late spring but my success was a low percentage of the cuttings I tried to root. I’ve also divided plants, but that’s not my favorite method since I never wanted to disturb how pretty and full the clump was.

Then last year I discovered how easy it was to start from seed via the wintersown method. Wow! My success rate soared. And they don’t take any special care or watching.  Just put the seed in the jug and let it grow.  When they get big enough transfer to little pots — and then transplant to your flower borders at your convenience.

Why the Species Sempervirens?

Iberis Sempervirens (sempervirens is the species name) started as a common wildflower in the Mediterranean.  It will grow most anywhere in well drained soil.  Most of mine are in full sun, but a few are in light shade and do just fine.

Candytuft (Iberis Semperverins) placed sporadically along the edges of my borders.

Candytuft (Iberis Sempervirens) placed sporadically along the edges of my borders.

I started with this species because I think it’s the wildflower version — or the closest anyway.  Generally speaking — the closer you get to the original version of the flower (rather than a hybridized version) — the more pollen and nectar are produced for your bees and other beneficials.

The Other Species I Tried – Gibraltarica

Last year – in addition to planting more Sempervirens — I planted the species Gibraltarica which I bought from Diane’s Flower Seeds.  I can hardly wait to see these bloom this spring — as the blossoms are white but tinged with pink or red.

Easy Care

After bloom, shear Candytuft’s top growth back about 1/3.  This encourages dense growth and really keeps the plant looking good.  You might even get some more blooms here and there.

Iberis has resided in my borders for at least 15 years and looks great even in years of drought. It’s never invasive and if the clumps get bigger than what you like — it’s very easy to just remove a few stems.

Final Thoughts

Blooming profusely in early March through April with little to no care all year —- I consider Iberis to be one of the best spring blooming perennials for any flower garden or border.

I’m starting more via wintersown this week (January 14), ’cause my back borders need a lot more spring bloom.

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Candytuft by our entrance walkway.

Suggested Reading:
Flowers to Help Bees Help Your Garden

Posts on Wintersown:

You Can Plant in December

Looking at Winter Sown Seedlings and the Garden

Warm Weather Crops and the Winter Sown Method

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