Set the scene with sweet alyssum and lobelia

sweet alyssum

You want to roll out the welcome mat to your home? Groundcover plants are one of the best options when you want to create that welcoming feel as guests walk up to your front door. That contiguous low lying mass of groundcover is so important in the “outdoor room” of the front yard. We have such a wonderful climate for growing almost all year that we are able to choose from a wealth of groundcovers. Two of my favorite groundcovers are sweet alyssum and lobelia.

Sweet alyssum, because of its growth habit and fragrance, is one of the best to consider as you begin to plan on improvements or changes in your spring gardening palate. It is a mat-forming annual (or even a perennial for us if the weather stays mild during the winter). This member of the mustard family looks back to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and the Azores as its homeland so will need a mostly sunny spot. Can’t you just picture it growing along the Mediterranean coastal roads as you drive by in your convertible? Master gardeners tout the fact that the flowers and leaves are edible and can be added to salads.

The flowers of the sweet alyssum are produced over a long period of time.

Throughout the growing season, you will see new tiny flowers with their precious four petals come out. Many flowers are clustered together in the thick heads. You can plan on your sweet alyssum growing 3-6 inches tall. The bees and butterflies love them. Why? The flowers smell as sweet as honey.

Lobelia is a flower that most all gardeners love; after all, there are 415 varieties you can choose from, including blue, red, purple, pink and white. Many of the colors of this beauty are in the blue range that we gardeners love to search for. I love to look for beautiful blues for the landscape because they are so rare. Lobelia can be found in deep blue, sea blue, baby blue and lavender blue. For groundcover use, look for Lobelia varieties that are compact and close-growing. Give this beauty good, well-draining soil and mostly sun to keep it happiest.

The genus Lobelia is named after Matthias de l’Obel, a physician living about 400 years ago who serviced the aristocracy in England and the Netherlands. He was also a botanist and was interested in plants that had medicinal qualities. Lobelia is said to contain pain-killing properties.

What can be more beautiful than a wonderful carpet of groundcover with a sweet aroma and beautiful color as your guests walk up to the front door?

For your calendar

Don’t forget to put the Fall Rose Show onto your calendar for Nov. 5. It’ll be at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens, 6088 Babe Zaharias Drive, Tyrrell Park. The viewing is open and free to the public noon – 3 p.m. Call (409) 886-4616 for more information.


Joette Reger is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. She can be reached by e-mail at joreger [at] msn [dot] com.