Iberis saxatilis
Common Name: alpine candytuft
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Brassicaceae
Native Range: Western Mediterranean
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: March to May
Bloom Description: White tinged purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought

Culture

Typically grown in medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates part shade, but is less floriferous. Well-drained soil is the key to growing this plant well. Tolerant of drought. Cut or sheer plants stems back by 1/3 after flowering to encourage new growth, to maintain compact habit, and prevent legginess. In cold winter climates, mulch plants with a modest covering of evergreen boughs in winter to help minimize potential damage from sun scorch and desiccation. Plant foliage often benefits in winter from snow cover. Stems may root where they touch the ground creating new plants which can be left as is or transplanted to other areas.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Iberis saxatilis, commonly called rock candytuft, is a low-growing, spreading, woody-based, shrubby herbaceous perennial which typically grows in a spreading mound to 3-6” tall” and to 10-12” wide or more. It is native to the Mediterranean (France, Switzerland, Italy, the Balkan Peninsula, and the Crimean Peninsula). It is evergreen in warm winter climates, but semi-evergreen in cold winter climates where the foliage may become straggly or otherwise suffer significant decline in harsh winters.

Small, white (purple tinges develop with age), 4-petaled, snowflake-like flowers in dense, flattened clusters (corymbs) appear in a profuse, early-to-mid-spring bloom (March-May), the density of which often totally obscures the foliage beneath. Flowers sometimes gradually age to light pink. Numerous, narrow, needle-like, dark green leaves (3/4” long).

Genus name comes from the Greek word iberis indicating a plant from Iberia.

Specific epithet means growing on rocks where this plant will often thrive.

Problems

Wet, poorly-drained soils inevitably lead to crown rot which can devastate plantings. Susceptible to club root which results in stunted growth. Desiccation and sun scorch may damage the evergreen foliage in cold winter climates. Additional potential problems include downy mildew, powdery mildew, gray mold, rust and fungal leaf spots. Watch for slugs, snails and caterpillars.

Garden Uses

Excellent edging for borders, paths or walkways. Rock gardens. Alpine gardens. Sprawl over a wall. Interesting ground cover for small, sunny areas. Containers.