Plant of the Month – October, 2008
The many shades of the Lobularia maritima ‘Clear Crystals’ and ‘Snow Crystals’ family. Photos by Jimmy Turner.
Lobularia maritima ‘Clear Crystals’
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Lobularia maritima ‘Clear Crystals’ series
Common name: ‘Clear Crystals’ alyssum
Plant type: cool-season annual
Flowers: carpets of white, lavender or purple
Foliage: soft mounds to 10”
Mature height: 6–10”
Exposure: full sun
Water usage: medium
The Dallas Arboretum’s Plant Trial program isn’t always about the newest and most exciting plant on the market, but occasionally about finding the best variety of an old standby. This month’s plant is a prime example. I’ve been waiting for this particular alyssum for many years.
For years ‘Snow Crystal’ alyssum has been the best alyssum in our trials. Unfortunately, it came only in white. Then just last year PanAmerican Seed Company released the new ‘Clear Crystals’ series, which now gives us ‘Lavender Shades’ and ‘Purple Shades’ to complement the white. This alyssum series is a tetraploid, meaning it has an extra set of chromosomes, which gives it extra vigor, heat and cold tolerance, and incredible flower display.
Standard varieties of alyssum usually grow only 2 inches tall for us and might spread to 5 inches or so across. Not ‘Clear Crystals’. This one will reach 6 to 10 inches tall and spread to nearly a foot across. I’ve also found it has more cold tolerance; unlike other varieties, this one has taken mid-20’s temperatures and survived. It has also made it in our trial garden up until early June!
Like all alyssums, this plant likes full sun and well-drained soil. I personally think it is the perfect container plant. The soft pastel flowers spilling over the edge of a pot on your patio will entice every visitor with their incredible aroma. ‘Clear Crystals’ is super fragrant, so place it near a doorway, walkway or window, where you can smell the flowers.
Look for it to be available this fall and early next spring at retailers near you. Just make sure the label says ‘Clear Crystals’.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the director of research and garden designer at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit http://www.dallasplanttrials.org/ for information on the trial program. For more plant profiles by Jimmy, subscribe to Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine.