Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) is a herbaceous perennial flower that is from Southern Europe. It has dark green evergreen foliage and clouds of small white flowers. These flowers appear in mid-spring and can appear pink if it is cold. Because of its flowers, candytuft is often used as a border or growing draped over a wall.
Candytuft is hardy to zones five to nine. It prefers full sun. It may grow with light partial shade, but it will not flower as well. Candytuft prefers well drained soil that is a bit alkaline. However, it will grow well in almost any soil. To prepare your flower bed, you should till the soil to a depth of six inches and then spread three inches of compost on it. Till this in until the compost is evenly distributed in the soil. This will improve the drainage in the tilled area and leave the compost to act as slow release fertilizer for the plant.
After candytuft has flowered, cut or shear one third of the plant off to maintain a compact plant. During the winter in cold climates, cover the plants with evergreen bows to protect it from sun scorch or drying out too much. Remove the evergreen bows in the spring.
There are several ways to propagate candytuft. Branches that touch the ground often root themselves. You can leave the new plant there or dig it up and transplant it.
Candytuft can be grown from seed, too. Sow the seed in the spring when all danger of frost has passed. You can also start them eight weeks from the date of the last frost in individual pots inside. The growing medium should be maintained at a temperature of 65 to 70 to encourage germination. The seeds should germinate in sixteen to twenty days.
Candytuft can also be propagated by taking soft wood cuttings in the summer. They root easily and grow well.
Finally, candytuft can be propagated by division. Dig plants up and divide them in the spring after they have bloomed.
If you are planting candytuft seedlings you have started in the house, it is important to harden them off before you plant them. This process gets the seedlings used to the outdoors and makes transplanting more successful.
First, you set the seedlings in a protected area outside for a couple of hours, then bring them back in. Over the course of a week to ten days, gradually lengthen the time you leave the plants outside until they are out all day. They are then ready to be planted.
Candytuft is vulnerable to club root. This is a fungal disease that causes the roots to swell and become distorted. It also stunts the growth of the plant that is infected. Club root is active when it is warm and moist, so the plants usually get sick in late summer and early fall. There is nothing you can do to treat this disorder. The best defense is to make sure any plants you bring into your garden are not infected so it does not spread. Plants with the disease should be thrown away and not composted so the disease is not spread that way.