Does Alyssum Spread?

key takeaways:

  • Does alyssum spread? Yes, alyssum spreads readily both by seed and by creeping stems.
  • How far does alyssum spread? Alyssum can spread 1-3 feet outward in a season through creeping stems and several feet via seed dispersal.
  • How fast does alyssum spread? Alyssum spreads at a moderate pace, with mature plants filling in an area of about 1 square foot in 2-3 months under ideal conditions.

An Overview of Alyssum

Alyssum spread

Alyssum is a popular annual and perennial flowering plant beloved for its cute flowers, sweet honey-like fragrance, and spreading habit that makes it useful as a graceful groundcover.

There are over 100 species in the Alyssum genus, with the most common garden varieties being:

  • Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) – low-growing annual with flowers ranging from white to purple
  • Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis) – low-growing perennial with golden yellow blooms

Key traits related to spreading in alyssum:

  • Produces lots of tiny, easily dispersed seeds
  • Trailing stems that creep along the ground and root easily
  • Self-sows readily under ideal conditions

Does Alyssum Spread?

does Alyssum spread

Yes, alyssum spreads readily through both seeds and creeping stems. This spreading habit is why it works so well spilling gracefully out of hanging baskets and containers or as a flowing ground cover plant.

Sweet alyssum spreads by:

  • Seeds that fall close to the parent plant and sprout the following season
  • Seeds that are spread farther by wind, rain, animals, or other means and take root where they land
  • Stems that creep along the ground, rooting at intervals

Basket of gold spreads primarily from creeping stems and root structures rather than seed dispersal.

So both major alyssum varieties are considered spreading plants, though sweet alyssum tends to spread its coverage faster and farther due to its prolific self-sowing from seeds.

How Far Does Alyssum Spread?

Sweet alyssum will spread 1-3 feet per year on average through its creeping stems. However, its seeds can disperse much farther away from the parent plant via wind, water, animals, and other means.

Basket of gold spreads outward about 1 foot per year via its creeping above-ground stems. Its spread from seeds is minimal.

Here’s a bit more about the spreading potential of each variety:

Sweet Alyssum Spread

  • Stems creep 1-3 feet outward per year
  • Seeds can spread to several feet away
  • In one season, a single plant can spread to cover about 1 square foot
  • Over the course of a few years, plants may self-sow 3-6 feet from the original planting site

Basket of Gold Spread

  • Creeping stems spread about 1 foot outward per year
  • Doesn’t self-sow significantly from seeds
  • Slowly forms a solid mat covering several square feet after 3-5 years

So in summary, sweet alyssum spreads significantly more due to prolific seeding, while basket of gold spreads steadily but slowly via creeping stems.

How Fast Does Alyssum Spread?

The rate at which alyssum spreads each year depends on growing conditions.

Under ideal conditions – fertile soil, sufficient sunlight and moisture – mature alyssum plants can spread to fill an area of about 1 square foot within 2-3 months.

Factors that support fast spreading include:

  • Rich, well-drained soil
  • Consistent moisture
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Warm temperatures

Sweet alyssum tends to spread at a moderate to fast pace, achieving its full spread of 1-3 feet over one growing season.

Basket of gold is generally slower spreading, with mature plantings requiring 3-5 years to fully fill in an area.

Here’s a quick overview of how quickly each variety can spread:

Sweet Alyssum Speed

  • Blooms within 8 weeks after sowing seeds
  • Each plant reaches 6-12 inches in size within 2-3 months
  • Full spread of 1-3 feet outward in one season

Basket of Gold Speed

  • Emerges as young plants in 6-8 weeks after sowing
  • Individual plants grow just 3-6 inches year one
  • Full spread over 3-5 years to form 1-2 foot wide mats

So in ideal conditions, sweet alyssum spreads at a moderate to fast pace, while basket of gold is slower but still steadily expanding.

Controlling Alyssum Spread

Alyssum’s spreading habit is usually welcome to help the plants cover the area. But you can curb unwanted spread through:

  • Deadheading flowers before they set seed
  • Pruning back excess growth
  • Planting in containers rather than planting directly in garden beds
  • Surrounding planting area with physical barriers like sidewalk edges or patio stones

Employing one or more of these methods will help keep both sweet Alyssum and basket of gold from colonizing more space than intended!

Benefits of Growing Spreading Alyssum Varieties

While Alyssum’s creeping and self-seeding nature provides challenges, its ability to spread also offers many benefits:

  • Single plantings cover more and more ground each year
  • Fills empty spaces and interplants with other flowers nicely
  • Self-sows each year, providing free new plants
  • Once established, it requires minimal maintenance
  • Adds beautiful cascading color and fragrance to gardens and containers

So if you have space for plants to spread out, alyssum can give you ample charm and color that intensifies season after season.


In summary, alyssum is prized by many gardeners for its ability to spread gracefully to cover ground space, spill beautifully out of containers, and self-sow each year. Understanding its spreading habits allows you to plan your garden layout accordingly. With proper placement and occasional management as needed, alyssum varieties can provide lovely, fragrant, low-maintenance ground cover for years.

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