Flows Plant Care Guides Growing Candytuft Perennial Border Plants

Growing Candytuft Perennial Border Plants

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The name candytuft elicits all sorts of cutesy references for me! When I first heard it, my mind immediately went to something straight out of a cartoon. I expected it to be vividly pink, maybe resembling cotton candy.

In reality, this decorative sub-shrub produces a dense flush of white flowers twice a year. And while my hopes of a Dr. Seussian-style plant may have been dashed, I do love candytuft nonetheless. It’s an easy grower, looks fantastic in borders, and consistently produces blooms.

So let’s explore the uses of this plant. From border edging to low-lying shrub, a mounding ground cover to a container-grown plant, there’s plenty of potential here.

All About the Candytuft Plant

The name “candytuft” derives not from candy, but from an city. Candia was the former name of Heraklion, the capital of the Greek island Crete. And it’s from that southern European region where it originates.

Other forms of Iberis are also referred to as candytuft. Yet this particular variety continues to be a garden staple. Its flowers, when they form in spring or fall, create a cloud-like mass atop the mounding plant.

Because of that mass of flowers, they’re excellent at drawing in pollinators. They also are somewhat drought-resistant, making them a good choice in low water uses. Their mounded foliage does not spread rapidly, but can be an effective ground cover.

As an edging plant, they excel. These make wonderful plants along sidewalks or porches. Their proliferation of foliage and flowers will tumble out of planters, too.

Candytuft Plant Care

Iberis plants are easy to care for. These are very low-maintenance. Once established, they can recover well from adverse conditions. But let’s talk about the perfect growing conditions for this plant!

Light & Temperature

It’s generally said that candytuft survives well as a perennial in USDA zones 5-9. But there’s slightly different methods of growing it when the weather gets warm.

Gardeners in zones 5-7 should place their plants in full sun where they’ll get plenty of light. Candytuft tends to provide the best show of flowers this way. Those in zones 8-9 should opt for partial shade, primarily afternoon shade. As temperatures soar in summer, the shade gives them a break from the hottest part of the day.

The seeds need rather warm soil temps to germinate – 75 to 85 degrees (24 to 29 degrees C) is not uncommon. An established plant can tolerate higher ranges, although extra moisture may be necessary.

Water & Humidity

In their natural climate, candytufts can be found in rocky, sandy regions. They’ve developed over time to really hate having wet feet, and they’re drought tolerant. So it’s absolutely essential that you don’t overwater them!

Unfortunately, their natural environment tends to have drier air conditions. They may be tolerant of a lack of soil moisture, but they’re wimpy vs. humidity. Plants may wilt if the humidity rises. Because of this, they’re not recommended for the southeastern United States.


Gravelly or sandy soil in rock gardens and xeriscaping is perfect for your plant, as it mimics their natural environment. Try to avoid clay soil which lacks drainage, because that can spell doom for the roots of your plant. Remember, these are drought tolerant plants.


Provide fertilizer early in the spring for your plant. A slow-release balanced granular organic fertilizer is best. Work it into the soil in a ring around the plant’s base, trying to keep it directly above the roots.

During the growing season, you can provide a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous fertilizer to your rock gardens if needed. This will spur abundant flowering. But space out the fertilizing quite a bit. These plants often receive no fertilizer at all and still manage to grow well.

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