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Sweet alyssum flowersLobularia maritima
Sweet Alyssum
This Air plant has tiny fragrant flowers and a somewhat airy structure. A native of the Mediterranean, where it grows along the coast in rocky, sunny areas, this magick herb has been cultivated so often in the US that it has become naturalized in most states. The small flowers are constantly produced and are very sweet, but it is an innocent sweetness rather than a sexual one. Some compare the scent to warm honey, others to the smell of new-mown hay. In the language of flowers, this magick herb stands for sweetness of soul and worth beyond beauty. This plant is also said to be protective, especially against glamours.  

In Herbalism

At one time this herb had medicinal uses in the treatment of rabies, which is reflected in both its botanical name (a-lyssum = not enraged) and its common names, madwort and healbite. This is apparently the source of the idea that it is helpful in calming anger. In Afghanistan, this plant is used medicinally for asthma and nervous disorders, and in Spain it is a diuretic and provider of vitamin C.  The edible flowers and leaves taste like a broccoli leaf (which shows both this plant's membership in the mustard family and an Airy pungency). In Spain, leaves and flowers are added to salads to give them a little extra spicyness. However, some people with very sensitive skin get a rash from handling this plant. Top

In the Garden

This is a classic cottage garden plant that is good for making borders, as a ground cover in sunny areas around bulbs and roses, in a Moon garden, and even in containers.  Sweet alyssum is a good groundcover around vegetable plants because it attracts beneficial insects that eat aphids and caterpillars and helps smother weeds, and it breaks up the soil, adding organic matter. It also looks great around roses or spring bulbs and resists being eaten by deer. It reseeds easily but does not become too invasive because its roots are shallow, so it's easy to pull up. Top

Sweet alyssum growing over mulch with wood sorrelThis plant is a perennial zones 4-9 (down to -40F/-40C), but most people grow this as an annual, because it gets scraggly (even more Airy) its second year. It grows 3-10 in/9-30cm high, and spreads in a mound 6-10 inches/19-30cm. The flowers appear from early summer till fall. Some people cut the plant back after the first flowers, but it seems to just keep churning out flowers as long as it is happy. I like to put individual transplants in mulched areas so they can spread over the mulch and make it look nicer. Planting through mulch also satisfies this plant's need to have sufficient but not too much water. Top

This plant is also known as sweet Alice, Seaside lobularia, gum alison, madwort, healbite, sweet Alison, and Mary's cushion. This variety of sweet alyssum is called Carpet of Snow.

How to Grow Sweet Alyssum

The small seed requires light to germinate, so sprinkle it on moist planting soil and gently press in. Keep in indirect light. Water by gentle misting or bottom water so the seeds are not dislodged. Transplant to sunny areas with rich, light soil and good drainage (no standing water). Sweet alyssum makes a great living mulch because it is shallow-rooted, low, spreading, and attracts beneficial insects. It is perennial in zones 4-9 but usually grown as an annual.  General growing info. Top

 

Lobularia maritima
Sweet Alyssum Carpet of Snow
400 seeds $3.25



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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Elemental Magic (Air)
Maiden Work
Protection Spells
Air Herb

Cottage Garden Plant

2006, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission