Alyssum is commonly grown as a decorative flower, but did you know it makes a great companion plant?
I grow it along the edges of my beds as it has multiple benefits, let’s take a look at what they are.
Bees and other beneficial pollinators are attracted to the look and smell of Alyssum. Plant a few around your crops, and you will soon have these beneficial pollinators buzzing around doing your job for you!
Attracts Beneficial Insects
Alyssum attracts many beneficial insects, such as ladybirds, as you can see in the photo above. It is a particularly good companion plant for crops that usually suffer from aphid infestations.
This is because a lot of the insects it attracts, such as ladybirds, parasitic wasps and lacewings all feast on aphids – helping to keep their numbers in check.
Parasitic wasps lay their eggs on all sorts of harmful pests. These then hatch, and the larvae eat the pests. Nasty but effective, and it is here where the parasitic part of the name comes from. They can attack whitefly, aphids and caterpillars.
Lacewings are attracted by the look and smell of Alyssum. Again they feed on many common pests, particularly greenhouse pests like whitefly and aphids. They also eat smaller caterpillars, mealy bugs and mites.
Lots of growers report success with growing Alyssum in between rows of brassicas and lettuce as a means of helping to keep aphid populations in check.
Looks and Smells Amazing
For me, this is as good of a reason as any other to grow this flower. It looks amazing, but the smell it gives off is one of the sweetest you will find. It has a nice sweet honey smell.
And why not make your veg patches smell and look amazing? Afterall you will spend a lot of time there so make it as enjoyable as possible.
As Alyssum has a compact growth habit, it isn’t going to grow too tall and shade out other plants. It grows low and hugs the ground, making it great for growing around the edges of beds.
It will also trail over edges, which makes it really useful for hanging over the edges of raised beds.
How To Grow Alyssum
It’s actually a really easy flower to grow and is grown as an annual here in the UK. Even though it is an annual, it has a strong self-seeding habit, so don’t be surprised if your patch returns year after year.
I start my Alyssum from seed in early spring, I often grow the below cultivar – carpet of snow.
It’s super cheap, germinates readily and grows easily. I like to sow into module trays and pop a few seeds in per module.
They are really small seeds, so it is hard to be precise here, so I just let a few go in each module. You can then thin out to a single plant per module, leaving the strongest seedling in each.
I then plant it outside once the risk of frost has passed. It is fairly hardy but won’t survive a hard frost.
It is very wind and drought-tolerant and, because of this, makes the perfect rockery plant.