Candytuft was first found on the shores bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and “candia” was the ancient name for Crete. Some species of candytuft are native to Spain, hence the name for the genus is Iberis because the ancient name for Spain was Iberia. Perennial candytuft was sent to the Chelsea Gardens in London from Persia in 1793.
Candytuft is a spring bloomer that enjoys rich, well-drained soil and full sun. It is a member of the mustard family and in olden days was used to treat rheumatism.
Both perennial and annual candytufts make excellent rock garden and edging plants, and though the annuals bloom only for one season they bloom continuously, and some can even be pink or lavender. The perennials are white and usually bloom only once per season, though some like Iberis sempervirens 'Autumn Snow' bloom both in the spring and the fall and grow 9" tall. Their leaves are evergreen, and the plants have a mounding shape. After a harsh winter their ragged foliage can be cut back in the spring, as it quickly regenerates.
Perennial 'Snow Cushion' is shorter but makes a wide mound of glossy, dark-green foliage that only needs a light shearing after it blooms to keep it looking neat all summer. Autumn Beauty' is larger and blooms well in both spring and fall. Both 'Snow Cushion' and 'Autumn Beauty' are hardy zones 3-9 so do well in our Midwestern gardens.
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on sweet candytuft.