How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Tiny Tim’ Sweet Alyssum

Looking for an easy-to-grow, flowering ground cover? ‘Tiny Tim’ Sweet Alyssum is a low-maintenance, fast-growing, and beautiful option. Join organic farmer Jenna Rich as she shares how to plant, grow, and care for this small, white-flowered perennial.

Close-up of a blooming Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum in a sunny garden. Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum, also known as Lobularia maritima 'Tiny Tim,' is a charming annual plant prized for its petite size and profusion of delicate flowers. This compact plant forms a dense mat of small, oval-shaped leaves that provide a lush backdrop for its abundant clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers. These flowers, which come in white shade, feature four petals.

Contents

White alyssum should be a staple flower in any garden. The flowers are sweetly scented, adorable, and versatile, attracting a multitude of beneficial insects and pollinators. ‘Tiny Tim’ is the classic, white version of sweet alyssum, perfect for containers, ornamental border beds, and companion planting with vegetables.

Let’s dive in to how to plant, grow, and care for this lovely little flower.

Overview 

Close-up of Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum blossoms in bloom against a blurred green background. It features dense clusters of tiny, four-petaled white flowers that resemble miniature butterflies. The foliage is composed of small, lance-shaped leaves that are bright green and densely packed along the stems.
Botanical Name  Lobularia maritima
Plant Type  Perennial flowering ground cover often grown as an annual
Family Brassicaceae (mustard)
Attracts Pollinators
Special Characteristics Edible flowers, sweet fragrance, drought resistant 
Native Area  Mediterranean region 
Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Height  2-4 inches
Watering Requirements  Moderate
Alternate Name Alyssum, sweet Alison, carpet flowers 
Pests  Bagrada bug, caterpillars, aster leafhopper 
Diseases Root rot and wilt, downy mildew, botrytis blight, leaf blight
Maintenance Low
Hardiness Zones 5-9, perennial in 9-11
Bloom Time Spring until frost 

Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum Seeds

Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum Seeds
  • Fragrant Delight
  • Compact and Abundant Blooms
  • Drought and Heat Tolerance
  • Versatile Applications
  • Edible Flowers
View at Botanicalinterests.com

Plant History 

Close-up of Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum blooming against a blurred background of green foliage. Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum is a compact and delicate annual plant with masses of tiny flowers that bloom in clusters. Its foliage consists of small, lance-shaped leaves that form dense mats of greenery. The flowers are bright white.
Dating back to the 1500s, this plant is a low-maintenance border flower aiding soil biodiversity and attracting pollinators.

Sweet alyssum is a drought-tolerant Mediterranean plant that has been cultivated since the 1500s when it was used mostly for medicinal purposes. Modern-day gardeners use the plant as a low-maintenance border flower, companion plant, ground cover, and insectary plant.

‘Tiny Tim’ is a variety that is particularly compact and drought-tolerant. The low-growing plants are beautiful and offer great benefits such as improved biodiversity, reduced pest pressure, important pollinator resources, and weed suppression.

Appearance

Close-up of blooming Tiny Tim Sweet Alyssum flowers on a blurred background. The plant has a cluster of tiny, four-petaled blooms of white color with orange stamens in the centers.
A low-growing perennial, ‘Tiny Tim’ features clusters of tiny white flowers ideal for ground cover.

‘Tiny Tim’ is a low-growing perennial known for its clusters of tiny, four-petaled, white flowers with soft yellow centers. It’s nicknamed carpet flower for good reason; its spread is only 6-12 inches, and grows just two to four inches tall. The alternating leaves are long, oval, and narrow, and the growth habit is mounding, keeping the soil shaded and moist below its canopy.

Ideal for retaining walls, rock gardens, and along pathways, ‘Tiny Tim’ will spill over walls and rocks, fill in cracks and crevices, and create a white blanket of buzzing flowers. 

Standout Feature

Close-up of bee on Lobularia maritima flowers on a blurred background. Up close, 'Tiny Tim' Sweet Alyssum flowers reveal their exquisite delicacy and miniature beauty. Each tiny blossom, measuring only a few millimeters in diameter, forms a compact cluster atop delicate, branching stems. The four-petaled flowers showcase bright white color.
People and pollinators love the flowers for their fragrant, honey-like scent.

Gardeners and pollinators adore alyssum for its honey-like sweet scent, which wafts through the breeze. Add it to containers and place them near windows and doors to enjoy the fragrance inside your home.

Tiny pollinators especially love these flowers because it’s easy for them to feed on the small nectaries. Alyssum will also attract honeybees, bumblebees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. 

How to Grow

Overall, alyssum is low-maintenance and forgiving. It can adapt well to different types of soil and climates. You should have no problem cultivating this plant in your garden. Plant it alongside fruiting plants to secure higher rates of pollination.

Light 

Close-up of Lobularia maritima blooming in a sunny garden. Lobularia maritima, commonly known as Sweet Alyssum, presents a dainty and delicate appearance with its profusion of tiny, four-petaled flowers and fine, lance-shaped leaves. The flowers, borne in clusters atop branching stems, come in a white hue. The foliage consists of small, elongated leaves that form dense mats of greenery, providing a lovely backdrop for the delicate blooms.
Plant alyssum in a sunny to partially shaded location for optimal growth.

For the most flowers and fragrance, plant ‘Tiny Tim’ in a spot where it receives full sun to partial shade. Warmer climates can have searing sun, so plant alyssum where it gets afternoon shade. Six hours of mostly direct sun is best.

Water 

Close-up of a blooming Lobularia maritima inflorescence with water drops on a blurred green background. Sweet Alyssum are characterized by their tiny, four-petaled blooms that form dense clusters atop slender stems. These delicate flowers are bright white.
Irrigate with one inch of water per week if there is no rain. It is drought-tolerant once established.

Water one inch per week if no rainfall has occurred. Once established, alyssum is drought-tolerant and resilient. You should water transplants more as they establish themselves in the landscape.

Soil 

Close-up of a mound of white Lobuaria flowers in bloom in the garden. The soil is moist and dark brown. Lobularia maritima, commonly known as Sweet Alyssum, is a delicate and low-growing annual plant with fine, lance-shaped leaves forming dense mats of greenery. The plant produces clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers in shades of white.
For prolific fall blooms, use well-draining soil with fairly neutral pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Provide well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Keep the soil moist throughout the season for the best chance at prolific summer and fall blooms. Soil texture can vary as long as it remains moist and well-drained. Soggy soil can cause root rot.

Mulch

Close-up of Marigold flowers in the middle of field of Lobularia maritima against a blurred background of white inflorescences. 'Tiny Tim' Sweet Alyssum is a diminutive and compact annual plant with small, lance-shaped leaves densely covering its delicate stems. The plant is adorned with masses of tiny, fragrant flowers that bloom in clusters atop branching stems, showing bright white color. Marigolds' leaves are dark green, deeply lobed, and aromatic. Marigold flowers come in various shades of yellow, orange, and red, with a characteristic daisy-like appearance, featuring multiple layers of petals radiating from a central disk.
This groundcover plant acts as natural mulch, eliminating the need for additional mulch.

‘Tiny Tim’ is the perfect groundcover because it becomes a natural mulch for surrounding plants. This means it’s not necessary to mulch around it, but mulch can be added in ornamental gardens for aesthetic purposes. 

Climate and Temperature

Close-up of a flowering Sweet Alyssum plant (Lobularia maritima) covered with snow in the garden. It features small, lance-shaped leaves densely packed along slender stems, creating a lush carpet of greenery. The plant is adorned with clusters of tiny, four-petaled flowers that come in white.
This cool-climate perennial still needs protection from heavy frosts.

Alyssum prefers cooler temperatures (50-60°F or 10-16­°C), and may dry out or become a bit brown in the summer heat. It can tolerate cold temperatures, but a heavy frost could cause death. The plants should be protected with row cover if an early-season frost is predicted after transplanting outside.

‘Tiny Tim’ is mostly grown as an annual, as it’s easy to start from seed and it can get leggy in its second year. It can be grown as a perennial in zones 5+, and it’s moderately drought-resistant. 

Fertilizing 

Close-up of a gardener's hands pouring liquid fertilizer into a large blue plastic watering can in a sunny garden next to flowering Sweet Alyssum plants. Liquid fertilizers come in a yellow plastic bottle with a red cap.
Add phosphorus-rich organic fertilizer during cooler spring and fall temperatures for more blooms.

Fertilize when flowers are blooming and temperatures are cooler in the spring and fall. However, ensure you use a liquid diluted to 1/4 strength. This is because alyssum doesn’t perform as well in soil with extra fertility. You can feed them until the heat of summer kicks in. Plants won’t uptake nutrients when temperatures are above 50°F (10°C).

Select an organic fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen, preferably a liquid that can be applied after rain or irrigation. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer container. 

Harvesting

Close-up of four bunches of Lobularia maritima in the garden on a wooden surface. Lobularia maritima wrapped with natural brown Jute fabric. Sweet Alyssum presents delicate foliage and charming flowers. Its leaves are small, lance-shaped, and densely packed along slender stems, forming lush mats of greenery. The flowers, comprised of four petite petals, bloom in clusters atop the foliage and come in a soft palette of white.
This cultivar is too short for cutting flowers, but is suitable for edible garnishes and tiny, giftable pots.

This cultivar is quite short, so it’s not ideal for cutting flowers. However, ‘Tiny Tim’ can be harvested to use as an edible garnish.

Simply pluck off the tops of healthy-looking flowers in full bloom but before they’ve been fully pollinated. You can also snip off whole stems, depending on how many you need. Add them to early summer salads or use a full stem as a dainty cake topper. 

Pruning

Top view close-up of a young Lobularia maritima plant with a plastic thin circle support. Lobularia maritima, commonly known as Sweet Alyssum, exhibits slender stems adorned with small, lance-shaped leaves that densely cover the plant. The leaves are bright green and form a dense mat of foliage. Small clusters of tiny white four-petalled flowers.
No pruning is needed, but a light cut refreshes and stimulates new growth.

‘Tiny Tim’ does not require any pruning. However, if you notice lots of brown petals and want to freshen it up, a light prune will encourage new growth. Prune away dead or diseased foliage with sterilized pruning shears as needed.

Collecting Seeds

Close-up of Sweet Alyssum blooming in the garden. Lobularia maritima boasts delicate stems bearing small, lance-shaped leaves that densely cover the plant in a lush mat of bright green foliage. Clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers, in soft pastel hues of white, adorn the stems, creating a charming display. As the flowers fade, they develop into small seed pods containing numerous tiny seeds.
Harvest seeds from mature flower clusters, remove from pods, and store in labeled containers.

If you want to replicate your plants, you can collect seeds at the end of the season or allow plants to self-sow. They resemble small, slightly flatter coriander seeds. The lower, more mature flower clusters will form seed pods first. Wait until they’re brown and dry in appearance.

Gently tug the stem off the plant or snip it off, then release the light brown seeds by rolling the stem in your fingers over a paper towel or into a bowl. Shake the colander over a bowl, and the seeds will fall through as the stems and dried leaves remain. Discard any that aren’t fully dried or allow them to air dry for a few days before packing them up for storage. 

Store the seeds in a brown seed bag or an airtight plastic container. Label with the variety and year saved. Store them in a cool, dry spot until it’s time to sow.

Propagation 

Propagation of alyssum is easy from seed or cuttings. Dividing is not recommended. You should have no problem creating more alyssum from seed or cutting, though.

Seed

Rows of Sweet Alyssum seedlings growing in containers in a greenhouse. The seedlings grow in rectangular black plastic trays. They possess a rosette of lance-shaped, smooth, bright green leaves.
Start ‘Tiny Tim’ from seed indoors before the last frost, keeping soil moist for germination.

Starting ‘Tiny Tim’ from seed is extremely easy. If it’s your first time growing alyssum, seeds are readily available to purchase, or you can start seeds using last year’s saved seeds. Sow seeds indoors four to five weeks before the last frost in your region. 

Sprinkle them over a strip tray or small cell tray, and don’t cover them, as light is required to germinate. Water from below to keep the seeds in place and ensure the soil stays moist. Germination may take 5-15 days.

If direct seeding into the garden, sprinkle a pinch of 20-30 seeds about every six inches and thin as needed. A packet of 5,000 seeds will cover about 100 square feet. 

Pro Tip: This flower easily self-seeds in the garden, which is a sign you can winter sow it! Sow seeds in February to get a jumpstart on spring seedlings.

Cuttings

Close-up of Sweet alyssum seedlings in a rectangular pot under sunlight. The seedlings have upright short stems covered with narrow, lanceolate leaves with a smooth texture and bright green color.
For warmer regions, propagate with spring or fall cuttings.

Softwood cuttings are recommended for warmer regions where alyssum grows as a perennial. In the spring or fall, cut about four inches off the stem top and pot it up in fresh soil.

Keep the soil moist, and new roots will form. Step these up as needed into larger containers or transplant them outdoors. This is also a great way to grow seedlings for gifts or resale. 

Self-Seeding

Close-up of a blooming Sweet alyssum in a sunny garden. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) in bloom presents a captivating sight with its dense clusters of tiny, delicate flowers adorning low, spreading mounds of foliage. The blooms are white.
Alyssum self-seeds easily, germinating next season. It is shallow-rooted and easy to remove.

Your alyssum plant will drop seeds, and hopefully some will germinate for you next season. In warmer growing regions, they may germinate this season if conditions allow. Alyssum is shallow-rooted and easy to pull up if you don’t want the seedlings to remain where they germinate. 

Planting

Transplant in the spring or fall, depending on your region. In areas with short springs, opt for a mild fall to give the plant more time to establish in the landscape.

Hardening Off 

Close-up of flowering Lobularia maritima seedlings in black pots, in a plastic black box, on soil in the garden. the plants bloom in clusters of tiny, four-petaled white flowers. The leaves are lanceolate, dark green in color.
Harden off seedlings at 50°F (10°C) before transplanting, protecting from early spring frost if needed.

Harden off seedlings at around 50°F (10°C) before transplanting so they can acclimate to outdoor conditions. Cover them with row cover or bring them indoors temporarily if there is any risk of early spring frost.

Spacing

Leave six to eight inches between plants and about the same between rows. It may seem like you can squeeze more in at first, but remember, they’ll spread out into a carpet-like mat, so don’t overcrowd them.

Transplanting

Close-up of a gardener in red gloves holding a box of young flowering Sweet Alyssum seedlings against a blurred background of flowering plants. Lobularia maritima, commonly known as sweet alyssum, displays a dainty appearance with its small, lance-shaped leaves and delicate stems that bear clusters of tiny, four-petaled flowers. These blossoms are white. Some leaves are dry, brown and yellowed.
Transplant seedlings after frost risk, ideally in the fall in mild climates.

Plant out seedlings after the risk of frost has passed or after the heat of summer. These plants love cooler weather.

To move alyssum from one location to a new one in the garden, transplant in the fall when new growth is happening. Only transplant plants whose roots are strong and healthy. Water new transplants well. Consider fertilizing to provide a boost. 

Plant Uses

The crisp, white flowers of ‘Tiny Tim’ white alyssum will complement just about anything growing in your garden. They’re great companion plants and complement the veggie garden nicely. But that’s not the only way to use alyssum.

Design Ideas

Close-up of Lobularia maritima 'Tiny Tim' flowering plant in large clay pots in the garden. Lobularia maritima 'Tiny Tim,' a compact variety of sweet alyssum, boasts diminutive foliage and petite, four-petaled flowers that form dense clusters.
The flowering stems cascade over walls, window boxes, and hanging baskets, enhancing cottage gardens and borders.

‘Tiny Tim’ will cascade over retaining walls, rock walls, the sides of window boxes, and hanging baskets, adding a whimsical feel to a cottage garden as a bright white understory.

Grow it with creeping thyme and ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum along a walkway or garden border, or contrast it against bold salvia, zinnias, and snapdragons. 

Insectary Plant

Close-up of Black wasp on small white flowers (Lobularia maritima) in the garden. Lobularia maritima flowers, commonly known as sweet alyssum blooms, are characterized by their small, delicate structure. Each flower consists of four petals arranged symmetrically around a central point, forming tiny clusters that densely cover the plant's foliage. Wasp has a slender body with a distinct narrow waist, typically marked with black and yellow bands or patches. It possesses a pair of wings with a smooth and shiny appearance.
The white flowers attract beneficial insects like wasps, hoverflies, and pirate bugs, controlling garden pests.

The pretty white flowers of ‘Tiny Tim’ attract parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and minute pirate bugs. Having these predators around will keep aphids, mites, moths, mealy bugs, and various other garden pests in check.

Studies show there may be an increase in the longevity of beneficial wasps when alyssum is planted near annual vegetables. No wonder alyssum is such a great companion plant!

Medicinal Uses 

Close-up of blooming inflorescences of Lobularia maritima on a blurred green background. The white flowers are delicate and small, each featuring four rounded petals arranged symmetrically around a central point. These blooms form dense clusters that cover the plant's foliage, creating a charming carpet of white.
Dating back to the 1500s, this plant was used as a medicinal herb.

In the 1500s, sweet alyssum was used to treat colds, coughs, and various abdominal ailments. It is known as a natural diuretic and is sometimes used homeopathically to prevent kidney disease and help with water retention.

Companion Plants 

Close-up of a flower bed with blooming flowers of Lobularia maritima and marigolds. Marigolds are characterized by sturdy stems adorned with dense clusters of flowers in shades of yellow, orange, or red. The blooms feature multiple layers of petals arranged symmetrically around a central disc, creating a full and textured appearance. Lobularia maritima produces clusters of tiny white flowers on thin stems covered with lanceolate green leaves.
Plant near vegetables for increased pollination and pest control.

Sweet alyssum attracts lots of beneficial insects. Planting alyssum near long-season annual vegetables will drastically increase the rate of pollination, which may lead to improved overall growth and yields. You can also use the plant to keep weed pressure down. However, don’t let it become unruly, and allow for proper airflow around the base of plants.

Adding ‘Tiny Tim’ at the base of bright zinnias, beebalm, or alongside ornamental cabbage will add contrasting beauty. Hanging baskets of alyssum will serve as insectaries and help with pest control in container gardens.

Edible Flowers

Close-up of blooming white alyssum flowers in a garden on a blurred green background. Each flower features four small petals arranged in a cross-like formation, white. These blooms grow in dense clusters that blanket the plant's foliage, creating a captivating carpet of color.
The blossoms add a mild mustard flavor to salads, soups, stews, charcuterie, and cakes.

The mild mustard flavor makes a great addition to fresh salads, soups, and stews or to garnish charcuterie boards. Add the flowers to brightly colored cakes as a delicate garnish. 

Common Problems

Sweet alyssum isn’t usually destroyed by pests or disease, but here are a few to watch out for. Young plants are typically much more susceptible to pests, while more mature, healthy plants stave them off with ease.

Painted Bug or Bagrada Bug (Bagrada hilaris)

Close-up of Bagrada bugs on green leaves. Bagrada bugs (Bagrada hilaris), also known as painted bugs or harlequin bugs, are small, shield-shaped insects with distinctive black and orange-red markings on their bodies.
The Bagrada bug, a small stink bug, targets alyssum, causing plant damage.

This stink bug loves members of the mustard family, including alyssum. You may have mistaken the Bagrada bug for a harlequin bug. Although it has unique black and white markings, it’s much smaller, at just ¼ inch long. It features orange and white markings, and a back shaped like a shield.

Nymphs are orangish-red with a black head, slightly resembling lady beetles. Females can lay up to 100 eggs in a few short weeks, which hatch out when the alyssum blooms in the spring and fall. The Bagrada bug thrives in hot temperatures.

Bagrada bugs cause serious damage to young plants by piercing and feeding on plant tissues. Symptoms include spotting, stunted growth, wilting, or death. They hide in the soil during the cooler parts of the day and at night. Early detection, scouting, and killing are important. It also helps to prioritize healthy soil and plants. Use insect netting when plants are young. Remove infested plants if needed and weed the area regularly. 

Caterpillars

Close-up of Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) larvae on a green leaf. It is small and cylindrical, has pale green coloration with a yellowish tinge and is marked by rows of tiny, black spots along its body.
Detect and manage diamondback moth and cabbage looper caterpillars early to prevent damage.

Diamondback moth larvae chew circular holes in leaves, giving them a shothole effect, whereas cabbage loopers cause more of a Swiss cheese effect by chewing all the way through.

Early detection is crucial. Spray Bt preventatively. If detected, hand-pick them into a jar of soapy water. Remove all garden debris before closing up for winter and practice proper crop rotation to keep future caterpillar pressure down. 

Aster Leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus)

Close-up of Macrosteles quadrilineatus, commonly known as the aster leafhopper, on a green hairy stem. It is a slender insect measuring about 4 to 5 millimeters in length. It has a pale green to yellowish body with four distinct dark stripes running longitudinally along its wings and thorax, giving it a striped appearance. The wings are transparent with a delicate veining pattern.
A detrimental virus spreads through infected plants from aster leafhoppers.

Aster Yellows is transmitted after aster leafhoppers feed on infected plants. The aster leafhopper is ⅛ inch in size and grayish-green. They’re hard to control and have a large number of preferred host plants. They move quickly, sucking juices from plants, giving them a mottled appearance.

You may see two to three generations of this insect per season. Nymphs hatch in June to early July. Remove possible weed hosts and infected plants immediately to decrease the risk of attracting the aster leafhopper. 

Root Rot and Wilt

Close-up of Lobularia maritima affected by root rot. The stems and leaves are weak and brownish in color. Clusters of tiny white flowers grow at the tops of the stems.
Prevent root rot by avoiding overwatering in heavy soil.

Root rot is caused by Rhizoctonia solani. Above-ground symptoms include yellowing, wilting, and foliar collapse. Don’t overwater, especially if you have heavier soil. Prevention is key as plants will likely not recover once root rot occurs.

Downy Mildew

Close-up of Downy mildew on the sweet alyssum leaves. Lobularia maritima blooms with white, four-petalled flowers against a background of pale green lanceolate foliage. Some leaves have beige-yellow spots due to disease.
Monitor upper leaf yellowing for signs of downy mildew, maintaining plant health with proper watering and spacing for airflow.

Pay close attention to upper leaf yellowing as it may indicate alyssum downy mildew caused by Peronospora. Spots will eventually break through as fuzzy mildew. Leaves will begin to shrivel and drop if the infection persists.

Keep plants healthy and water in the early morning to avoid wet foliage going into the night. This decreases the risk of fungal activity and fungal disease. Give plants ample space and provide good airflow.

Botrytis Blight or Gray Mold

Close-up of a leaf of infected Botrytis blight on a blurred background. Botrytis blight, caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, appears as fuzzy gray and brown patches on the plant leaf.
Prevent gray mold with good airflow, tidy gardens, and copper sprays or fungicides.

Poor circulation and wet foliage can cause gray mold, which shows up as weak plant tissue, and brown or black spots on petals, leaves, and buds. Gray mold spores are easily spread.

Plants can recover when conditions improve. Control with copper sprays or fungicides. Cultural control includes garden tidiness, drip irrigation, and proper airflow.

Leaf Blight

Close-up of a green leaf affected by Leaf blight. Leaf blight is a fungal disease that manifests as irregularly shaped lesions on plant leaves, initially appearing as water-soaked spots that later turn brown or black.
This disease thrives in prolonged wet conditions, causing chlorotic areas on upper leaves and fuzzy growth.

Blight arises and spreads during periods of extended wetness. Symptoms appear as chlorotic areas on upper leaf surfaces, typically later in the growing season. Once it breaks through, grayish, purple fuzzy growth will appear. Copper fungicides can help.

Final Thoughts

Add ‘Tiny Tim’ to your garden for a low-maintenance, attractive, and beneficial ground cover. You’ll enjoy its crisp white flower clusters and honey-sweet scent, and so will your local pollinators!

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