Iberis sempervirens plants, commonly known as Evergreen candytufts, Perennial candytufts, or simply Candytufts, are showy species of flowering plants in the Brassicaceae family. These flowers are native to several areas of southern Europe and the Mediterranean, with the largest diversity in the Iberian Peninsula.
Evergreen candytufts are very popular ornamental plants not only due to their abundance of delicate flowers but also for their low-demanding overall nature. Likewise, these flowers come with many interesting varieties to choose from. The most appreciated cultivars are ‘Autumn Snow’, ‘Purity’, ‘Nana’, ‘Snowflake’, ‘Autumn Beauty’, and ‘Pink Ice’.
Keep reading to find out more about Evergreen candytufts and also learn how to grow, care for, and propagate them like a pro!
About Evergreen Candytufts
- With its small and snow-white blossoms, the Candytuft ‘Snowflake’ cultivar has gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
- These plants have all it takes to be the ideal ornamental additions for every gardener. They thrive in full sun to partial shade, frosty to hot conditions, well-draining soils. Moreover, they are moderately drought-tolerant once established.
- Their genus name “Iberis” comes from the name of the place where Candytufts mostly grow a.k.a. the Iberian Peninsula. The specific epithet “sempervirens” means “always green/alive” in Latin and refers to the evergreen foliage of these plants.
- Evergreen candytufts make for wonderful ground covers in small areas and edging plants for borders, walkways, or paths. They also look absolutely stunning in rock gardens and as cascading ornamentals over the edges of raised beds.
- Iberis amara plants (Rocket candytufts) played a big part in traditional medicine. Although people don’t use them very often in modern herbalism, all parts of these plants have antiarrhythmic, antiasthmatic, antirheumatic, antiscorbutic, homoeopathic, and tonic properties.
- The seeds of I. amara plants serve as a great source of mustard. The flowers of all Candytuft species are highly attractive to some species of pollinators, such as bees.
- Thanks to their irresistible clusters of flowers, Evergreen candytufts can be eye-catching companions to many other species of plants. The most common companions include Basket-of-Gold, Bleeding Heart, Cornflower, and Creeping Phlox.
- Candytufts have no toxic effects on humans and animals if touched or consumes. You can grow these flowers without worrying about the safety of your curious kids or furry friends.
Evergreen Candytufts Features: An Overview
- These plants belong to the Iberis genus that consists of about 30 attractive species of flowering evergreen annuals and perennials. Some of the most popular species are I. amara, I. gibraltarica, I. linifolia, I. sempervirens, and I. umbrellata.
- Iberis sempervirens plants are spreading, evergreen, and perennial subshrubs that naturally grow in bushy mounds. They can reach from 6 to 18 inches (15-45 cm) in height and 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) in width.
- Their evergreen foliage contains numerous simple or deeply lobed, long, narrow, and leathery to glossy leaves that appear on tall, thick, and wood-like stems. The leaves measure from 1 to 5 inches (2.5-12.7 cm) in length.
- In general, evergreen candytufts bloom throughout the spring months. During this period, they produce many abundant clusters of fragrant, four-petaled flowers.
- Their blossoms can exhibit various shades of white, pink, lilac, or red. They typically come with darker, yellow or pink centres.
- When the flowering period has ended, Candytufts bear fruits where the blooms once were. The fruits are roundish to broad ovate capsules that contain narrowly-winged seeds.
Growing Evergreen Candytufts
Evergreen candytufts are a must-have in every respectable plant collection, especially if you are at the start of your gardening journey. These plants are pretty easy to grow and care for, making them great companions even for beginner gardeners. However, they need proper growing conditions and a little extra attention until they settle in their new environment. But let’s get more familiar with these beauties!
In terms of lighting, Evergreen candytufts will show the best results if you are keeping them in a location where they can receive plenty of full sunlight. These flowers can also withstand some partial shade without suffering in the long term. In regions with hot and harsh summers, they will actually appreciate a bit of shade, especially in the afternoon. Still, your plants will bloom more profusely under full sunlight exposure.
Temperature-wise, Evergreen candytufts are usually winter hardy in USDA regions 4 to 8. But in the cold areas, such as 4 or 5, the leaves of these plants are only semi-evergreen. Because of this, most gardeners that grow them in cooler climates use pine boughs to help their plants go easier through the winter. Make sure you place some pine boughs over your Candytufts in late autumn to provide them with shelter for cold, dry winds, and also to keep them evergreen.
In their natural habitat, Evergreen candytufts prefer to grow in dry conditions. Due to this, it is wise to place your plants in a spot with drier air. If the outdoor humidity is too high, you can grow your Candytufts in pots and keep them inside near an air vent.
Evergreen candytufts are typically carefree regarding fungal diseases and pest infestations. In fact, the only problem that can occur while growing and caring for these plants is root rot. You can easily avoid this issue by growing your flowers in suitable well-draining soil.
Planting Evergreen Candytufts
The perfect time to plant your Evergreen candytufts is usually in early fall. These plants grow at a pretty slow pace and bloom in spring. Planting your flowers in early fall will give them enough time to establish until next spring. As a general rule, make sure you plant them at about 6 inches (15 cm) apart to provide them with good air circulation and avoid overcrowding.
To grow healthy and happy, Candytufts need that kind of gravelly substrates that you can find in their native land. In general, these plants do well in soils that have excellent drainage and are more on the alkaline side. If you want to grow your flowers in pots, plant them only in those that also come with drainage holes at the bottom.
Although fertilizing your Evergreen candytufts is not really mandatory, it can surely promote abundant blooming. Because of this, you can feed your beloved plants with a slow-release fertilizer once every year in early spring. Look for those products that come with a combination of phosphorus-high and nitrogen-low values for optimal results.
Sometimes, these plants can become somewhat leggy, bringing them an overall unkempt appearance. But! Once their blooming period has ended, you can prune about one-third of their top foliage to keep them all nice and tidy. If your plants get too little, do not worry! Regular pruning will always spawn new, healthy growth with time.
Watering Evergreen Candytufts
The watering routine of Evergreen candytufts is nothing but a piece of cake, especially once they have settled in their new habitat. However, during their first year of growth after planting, your flowers will require more water than usual. Make sure you water your young plants whenever the top half of soil feels dry to the touch.
Once established, Candytufts are pretty tolerant of drought for relatively long periods. These flowers are great start-ups for beginners or forgetful growers mostly due to this irresistible feature of theirs. When these plants have developed a strong root system, they will generally thrive with drinks only once every week or so.
During the heat of the summer months, you will have to check the soil more frequently. After a few attempts, provide your Evergreen candytufts with water whenever the soil has dried out completely. In winter, they can typically do just fine if you water them once every two or three weeks.
Propagating Evergreen Candytufts
These flowers are so pure-looking and easy-going, it is quite hard to resist their charm. And you do not even have to! After all, what can be more enjoyable than surrounding yourself with lots of lovely plants? Go on, grab your gardening tools, and propagate your Candytuft flowers, because it is fast, free, and very rewarding!
Without a doubt, the easiest and most effective method to propagate your evergreen candytufts is through division. First things first, wait for the fall to come and dig your large, mature plants out of their growing medium. Once you have their roots in your sight, divide them into two or three sections. After this step, you can replant your tiny Candytufts in their permanent locations.
If you do not have Evergreen candytufts that are old enough for division, you can propagate them using stem cuttings instead. Look for healthy stems that are a bit longer than the others and cut about 4 inches (10 cm) off them using a sharp knife. Plant the cuttings in fresh potting soil, place the container in a warm, well-lit area, and water regularly whenever the soil is dry.
Although the stems will self-root, this method may take a while to show some results due to their slow-growing habit. But if you have a patient nature, you will encounter no problems while using cuttings.
We are sure that your family members and friends would also love some baby Candytufts. Do not forget to plant some of the divided sections or the cuttings in pots to surprise your dearest ones with an adorable present!
Evergreen candytufts are versatile flowering shrubs that can liven up any outdoor area. Whether you already have evergreen candytufts in your plant family or not, we want to know everything about your experience with these superb flowers. Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!