Candytuft – Iberis: Icy White Flowers, Evergreen Foliage

candytuft - iberis

For attractive year-round foliage in a clean, compact mound, grow evergreen Candytuft. Candytuft (Iberis semperiverns) has to be one of the most exquisite perennials available with its sparkling white lace flowers and deep green waxy foliage that always signals the plant is drought-tolerant. Candytuft stays short, growing only to about ten inches, but will spread into a two-foot diameter.candytuft Iberis mound

The tight, compact shape and small lace-like flowers that cover the foliage from May to April give Iberis status as an edging perennial and a container plant. The perennial’s natural affinity towards alkaline soil also gives it status as a rock garden alpine perennial. The squat lowness of Candytuft plus the evergreen foliage are perfect partners along a driveway or walk. These are big factors but it’s the “pop” of white that Iberis adds to the spring garden that draws the eyes of any passerby or visitor.

candytuft container garden
Candytuft is beautiful in a container garden. Photo: Walters Gardens

Trimming and Pruning Candytuft

Iberis will perform well in sun or partial shade in the intense sunshine of high mountain gardens. It blooms earlier in full sun but both its foliage and flowers are more elegant and healthier in partial shade. The trick to keeping Iberis as the perfect winter evergreen is shearing off the blooms before they have a chance to start looking lanky. Trim only what is necessary, for the refined look of the foliage is part of its charm. Candytuft will hold this tight perfect shape until next season’s bloom time.

candytuft perennial
The snowy white blossoms contrast especially well with other garden perennials. Photo: Walters Gardens

The sheared stems can easily be used as cuttings. Simply dip them in hormone powder and stick in pots for rooting. Not all of the cuttings will take hold, but those that do will bring the same lovely sparkling look to the garden. Candytuft’s root ball can be divided, but like all perennials with tap roots, this will set the plant back and it might never recover. Dividing the plant will also shorten its life, defeating Candytuft’s reputation of being a long-lived perennial. Candytuft can be grown from seed; however, the shearing of the plant as it completes blooming removes seeds that may be dropped so purchasing seed is the next choice.
Note: Iberis is not deer resistant in my Bear Lake Garden.

Here, Mary Ann Bonetti shows how simple it is to trim candytuft to encourage a second blooming:

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