Welcome to our essential guide to growing and caring for Garden Candytuft. In the language of flowers, garden candytuft symbolizes indifference. However, it’s impossible to feel indifference toward this plant and its beautifully clustered flower blossoms that bloom in candy-like shades of pink, red, white, and more! Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know to grow Garden Candytuft at home, including planting, soil considerations, light preferences, feeding, pruning, and over-winter care.
- About Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)
- How to Grow Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)
- How to Care for Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)
- Common Garden Candytuft Problems and How to Treat Them
- Essential Tools for Growing Garden Candytuft
- Satisfy Your Garden’s Sweet Tooth
- More Candytuft Growing Guides:
- Growing Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata) FAQs
How to Grow Garden Candytuft – The Essentials
|Botanical Name:||Iberis umbellata|
|Also Known As:||Garden candytuft or globe candytuft|
|Hardiness Zones:||3 to 8|
|Flowering Months:||Late spring to early summer (May through July)|
|Type of Plant:||Herbaceous annual plant|
|Light Requirements:||At least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily|
|Temp & Humidity:||Thrives in ambient temperatures ranging from 70°F to 85°F with low to average humidity|
|Watering Needs:||Low water needs. Ensure soil drains well and water only when the soil has dried completely.|
|Soil Preferences:||Moist but well-draining, poor to moderately fertile, neutral to alkaline (6 to 11 pH) soil|
|Feeding:||Does not require regular feeding|
|Growth Expectations:||12 to 18 inches in height|
|Toxicity:||Non-toxic to humans and pets|
About Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)
Iberis umbellata, commonly referred to as garden candytuft or globe candytuft, is one of about 30 species of candytuft flowering plants in the Iberis genus which belongs to the Brassicaceae (mustard/cabbage) plant family.
Origins and History
Iberis umbellata is native to the Mediterranean. Today, you can find these flowers growing across Europe, most commonly along the coastal regions from Spain to Greece. It also now grows wildly in North America.
Although it blooms in shades of pink and white that resemble cotton candy, candytuft’s common name does not refer to sweet confections. Instead, it’s derived from the name “Candia” which the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete was once called.
This herbaceous annual produces erect stems from which slender leaves sprout. Fully grown, this shrub-shaped plant reaches about 12 to 18 inches in height and width.
Garden candytuft produces flat corymbs of pink, red, purple, lavender, and white flower clusters. The flowers emit a sweet fragrance similar to that of hyacinth blossoms.
Uses and Benefits
Garden candytuft is primarily grown in a variety of garden types as an ornamental plant. With stiff stems and attractive flowers, they are also a perfect choice for cutting gardens, use in floral bouquets, and for drying.
Additionally, garden candytuft’s flowers create a strong draw for pollinators, including butterflies, moths, and bees, making them a healthy addition to any garden.
Garden Candytuft Flowering Season
Garden candytuft produces blossoms in spring and summer from late May through July.
Garden candytuft plants grow quickly and achieve mature size in a single season. At maturity, garden candytuft plants can reach about 12 to 18 inches tall and wide.
How to Grow Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)
What Are the Best Locations for Planting Garden Candytuft?
The best locations for planting garden candytuft include borders, beds, containers, rock gardens, hillsides, cutting gardens, cottage and informal gardens, and pollinator gardens.
Choose a location with chalky, well-draining soil that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
The Best Time of Year to Plant Garden Candytuft
Garden candytuft seeds should be sown in spring after the final frost of the winter has passed.
Growing From Seeds vs. Planting Nursery Plants
Garden candytuft plants are simple to grow from seeds, and doing so allows you to plant them intermittently, laying down new seeds every two weeks until the end of June to extend the blooming season of your plants.
In temperatures between 70°F and 85°F, seeds should germinate in about a week. The plants are fast-growing and reach maturity quickly.
If, however, you do not wish to wait for your plants to sprout from seeds, you can alternatively purchase grown garden candytuft plants from a nursery and plant them in containers or the ground.
What to Do Before Planting Garden Candytuft
Before planting, find a suitable location that receives ample sunlight and has well-draining soil. Gather up any supplies you might need, such as a small trowel (for planting nursery plants) or a hand cultivator for loosening your garden soil.
The Best Soil for Garden Candytuft
Although it fares best in chalky soil containing calcium carbonate, garden candytuft can thrive in various soil types, including chalk, loam, or sand. These plants prefer soil with a neutral to alkaline pH level that is only poor to moderately rich with nutrients.
A garden candytuft’s soil should be moist but well-draining.
How to Plant Garden Candytuft
When sowing from seeds, loosen the top 1 to 2 inches of soil and plant seeds about 12 inches apart. Lightly pat the soil down and water moderately, ensuring the soil and seeds are moist but not soggy.
When planting nursery plants in a container or the ground, create a hole in the potting soil that is slightly larger than your plant’s root ball. Place the plant in the hole, fill it in around the plant with soil, pack the soil down gently, and water.
Be sure all excess water can drain by selecting a container with holes in the bottom. You can also improve your potting medium in a container or the ground by mixing in sand or perlite to improve drainage.
Garden Candytuft Light Preferences
Garden candytuft can tolerate some partial shade but must receive at least 6 hours of full sun daily to reach mature size and produce abundant blooms.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
Garden candytuft thrives in ambient spring and summer temperatures that range from 70°F to 85°F.
Although it likes moist soil, too much moisture in the ground and around the plant can cause various problems for garden candytuft. As a result, the plant fares best in low to moderate humidity.
Best Garden Candytuft Companion Plants
Suitable companion plants for garden candytuft include any other plants that prefer full sun and moist but well-draining soil. Some favorites include:
- Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
- Basket-of-Gold (Aurinia saxatilis)
- Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
- Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
How to Care for Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)
When and How to Water
Garden candytuft plants prefer moist, but well-draining soil and have relatively low moisture needs. If growing in the ground or containers, be sure that the soil dries completely before you water your plants.
Watering frequency will, of course, depend on the season, the weather, and the temperature. In hotter, drier weather, you will need to water your plants more often.
Additionally, plants grown in containers instead of the ground tend to dry out more quickly and require more frequent watering than garden candytuft plants growing in your garden bed.
During particularly hot and dry spells, the plants will benefit from an occasional misting. The use of a moisture meter or soil probe can help you perfect the watering cycle for your garden candytuft plants.
How, When, and Why to Fertilize Garden Candytuft
Garden candytuft prefers soil with no more than a moderate level of nutrients and thrives in relatively nutrient-poor potting mediums. As a result, it is not necessary to fertilize garden candytuft plants.
If you wish to do so, you can mix a calcium-rich fertilizer into your potting soil before sowing seeds in the spring.
Pruning and Cutting Back
As blossoms and stems die back, they can be pruned to encourage new growth during the same season. When the plants have finished blooming at the end of the fall, you can cut back the foliage and spent blossoms entirely.
If you wish to sow seeds in the spring, carefully collect the plant’s seed pods at this time.
To encourage more blossoms, you can remove spent flower clusters from your garden candytuft plants throughout the flowering season.
Propagate garden candytuft by collecting its seed pods at the end of the growing season. Clean and store them in a cool, dry location over winter. Sow in the spring after the final frost.
Overwintering Garden Candytuft
Garden candytuft plants are annuals, and no special care is required for overwintering since they only grow and bloom for one season.
When and How to Repot Container-Grown Plants
Since garden candytuft plants are annuals, they typically do not need to be repotted within their single growing season.
To avoid the need to repot, be sure to select an appropriately sized container when first transplanting your nursery plants. Remember that each mature garden candytuft plant will grow about 12 to 18 inches tall and wide.
Common Garden Candytuft Problems and How to Treat Them
Signs and Symptoms of Problems
- Not Blooming – If your plant fails to produce flowers, it can mean that your plant is receiving too much water or not receiving enough full sunlight each day. Check your soil’s moisture and reduce watering, if necessary, and move your plant to a sunnier location.
- Fast-Withering Flowers – If your plant produces flowers, but they fade and wither away more quickly than they should, the plant is likely receiving too much moisture. Reduce your watering frequency and improve the soil’s drainage.
Common Pests and Diseases
- Slugs and Snails – You can either hand-pick snails and slugs out of your garden or try using snail bait, slug bait, or diatomaceous earth to detract these creatures from your plants.
- Clubroot – Clubroot is a disease that affects plants in the Brassicaceae family. Above the ground, it results in stunted growth and yellowed, wilting leaves and flowers. Below the ground, plant roots swell into club-like shapes. Clubroot lives in contaminated soil and is difficult to eradicate. If clubroot is present, do not plant members of the Brassicaceae family in the area. To avoid introducing clubroot to your garden, closely inspect nursery plants for signs of the pathogen before planting.
Essential Tools for Growing Garden Candytuft
Here are all of the tools you should have around for Garden Candytuft care:
- Hand cultivator
- Well-draining containers
- Sand or perlite
- Calcium-rich fertilizer
- Moisture meter or soil probe
- Spray bottle
Satisfy Your Garden’s Sweet Tooth
Although it’s an annual that needs to be planted every year, garden candytuft is so easy to grow that you’ll hardly notice the effort. With its pleasantly sweet fragrance and candy-like color palette, garden candytuft is sure to satisfy your garden’s sweet tooth and that of your favorite pollinators!
More Candytuft Growing Guides:
For more, see our step-by-step guide to growing Snowflake Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) at home.
Growing Garden Candytuft (Iberis umbellata) FAQs
Are garden candytuft (Iberis umbellata) hardy?
Garden candytuft is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8. Seeds should not be sown until after the last frost.
How big do garden candytuft (Iberis umbellata) get?
Mature plants grow to be about 12 to 18 inches tall.
What do you do with garden candytuft over winter?
Garden candytuft is an annual, so overwintering is not required. Collect seed pods at the end of the growing season to store in a dry place over winter and sow in spring.
Is Iberis umbellata invasive?
Although it has escaped gardens and is growing in the wild in some parts of North America, Iberis umbellata is not considered an invasive plant.
Will garden candytuft (Iberis umbellata) grow in shade?
Garden candytuft can tolerate some shade but requires at least 6 hours of full sun daily.
Is garden candytuft (Iberis umbellata) poisonous to humans?
Iberis umbellata has no reported toxic effects on humans or animals.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.
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