Iberis / Candytuft
Cold hardy, heavy blooming, and low growing, perfect for edging
The genus Iberis contains annuals and woody subshrubs, often categorized as herbaceous perennials, commonly called candytuft. In warm winter climates, some species are evergreen, but in cold winter climates, candytufts will be semi-evergreen or die back. Cottage garden favorites, these low-growing ornamental plants bloom in spring or summer, depending on variety. But all bloom profusely in dense clusters of small flowers that blanket the plant, almost completely covering the finely textured, narrow, leathery green leaves for weeks. The blooms come in white, pink, lavender, purple, or red, and some are sweetly scented. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds as well as beneficial insects.
Iberis is a genus of about 40 species that grow 6 to 18 inches tall and typically spread. Candytufts are perfect for rock gardens and make excellent edging for borders, paths, and walkways. They also cascade beautifully over the edge of containers and window boxes or sprawl over rock walls. Some popular species are I. amara (annual candytuft, bitter candytuft, rocket candytuft); I. gibraltarica (Gibraltar candytufts); I. umbellate (annual candytuft, globe candytuft); I. saxatilis (rock candytuft); and Iberis sempervirens (candytuft, evergreen candytuft, perennial candytuft), which is widely planted in home gardens.
The genus, Iberis, was named after the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, where many members of the genus originate. Candytufts grow best in sunny locations with well-draining soil and are drought tolerant once established. They will tolerate light shade but will not tolerate soggy soils. Candytufts are cold hardy and are considered deer and rabbit resistant.