Iberis sempervirens [eye-BEER-is, sem-per-VY-renz] is a perennial, low growing herbaceous plant typically thought of as a subshrub because it forms a mound of foliage rising to about a foot high and about 18” inches wide.
The plant genus name, Iberian, is derived from the Greek word, iberis which means a plant hailing from the Iberian Peninsula, which is in Spain.
The specific epithet, sempervirens is a combination of two Greek words. Semper means always green and foliar, which means foliage.
This member of the Brassicaceae family is also known as the Candytuft plant.
Iberis Sempervirens Care
Size & Growth
The plant can attain a height of 1’ foot and a spread of 1½’ feet.
This spreading evergreen plant features attractive thick, leathery, dark green, and narrow leaves.
The leaves are about 1” – 1.5” inches long.
Flowering & Fragrance
Clusters of pure white blooms appear early in the springtime, and blooming is completed by June.
- Flowers may appear sporadically throughout the summer.
- Some species (i.e., Snowflake) are repeat bloomers.
- The four-petaled flowers are small and white.
- As the flowers age, they may turn a very pale pink.
- Blossoms grow in flattened clusters starting early in the springtime.
- If grown in a very sunny setting, flowers may be so thick as to cover the leaves completely.
- For best blooming, provide six or more hours of sunlight daily. The morning sun is best.
- The showy flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Light & Temperature
The plant does best in full sun but can tolerate some shade.
Flowering is most abundant when plants receive six or more hours of sunshine in the morning.
Candytuft is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8.
In very cold climates, this plant is considered semi-evergreen. In warmer climates, it is evergreen.
If winters are very harsh, the foliage may suffer and become straggly.
Watering & Feeding
This drought-tolerant plant needs little water.
Occasional, deep watering is preferable to frequent, light watering.
Provide about an inch of water weekly to the soil which has been amended with natural compost.
This helps to improve the quality of the soil and provides food for your plant.
Add 3” inches of mulch to the surface of the soil to make the most of the water you provide.
Soil & Transplanting
The plant tolerates poor soil and does well in very sandy soil, clay or loam.
Candytufts most preferable soil is moist and well-drained.
Candytuft also tolerates a wide range of pH values in soil and does well in pH 5.52 pH 8.
Grooming & Maintenance
When flowering is complete, shear the plants back by about a third.
This will encourage bushy new growth in a compact form.
Be sure to mulch all around the plants before winter if you live in a harsh climate.
This will help prevent root damage from the cold.
How To Propagate Evergreen Candytuft
It’s easy to propagate these plants as they often self propagate by simply taking root wherever a stem touches the ground.
Either take cuttings or use the layering technique to grow new plants.
Iberis Candytuft Pest or Disease
In the springtime, watch for clusters of translucent snails or slug eggs and destroy them when you find them.
Avoid providing them with a place to hide by clipping away the lower leaves and making sure debris do not gather around the base of the plant.
Throughout the growing season (springtime through late autumn) set up beer traps throughout your garden to lure and kill slugs and snails.
Caterpillars are also problematic for these plants.
The use of biological controls, such as parasitic wasps (braconid wasp), is advisable.
Application of Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt insecticide) early in the growing season helps prevent caterpillar infestation.
If Candytuft is kept in poorly drained, wet soil, or with excessive watering you will have trouble with fungus.
Fungal infections include:
Allow the soil to dry almost completely before providing a deep, occasional watering.
Water at ground level using a soaker hose rather than using overhead irrigation.
A problem known as clubroot may cause stunted growth.
In very cold climates, the leaves may suffer from sun scorch and desiccation.
A good snow cover will protect the leaves against this problem.
Is the plant toxic or poisonous?
Contact with the sap of Candytuft may cause skin irritation and rash.
Wear protective clothing when handling, and be sure to wash thoroughly and change your clothing after handling.
Is the plant invasive?
Candytuft spreads freely when well positioned in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8; however, it is not thought to be invasive.
Suggested Uses For Evergreen Candytuft
Candytuft is a great choice as a border plant and makes a good addition to a rock garden.
These plants make a great groundcover and also look lovely tumbling over a wall.
Candytuft makes a good choice for a seaside garden as it is tolerant of wind and salt in a sloping substrate.
Additionally, it can resist pollution, drought, deer, and rabbits.