Are Alyssum Perennials?

If you are growing alyssum flowers, you will want to know what their characteristics are. Are alyssum perennials or annuals? Knowing this vital information will help you to prepare your garden to make it look colorful throughout the year! 

Actually, Alyssum plants can be perennials and annuals as the conditions favor them.

  • In Mild winters (no frost and moderate temperatures), alyssum plants are perennial 
  • In Harsh/Severe winters (frost and low temperatures), alyssum plants are annual

You can grow alyssum in USDA Zones 5 through 9. However, it will have different characteristics in the different zones due to different temperatures and climates. 

What Are Perennials? 

A perennial is a plant that lives for more than two growing seasons, several years at a time actually. They grow by seed and do not flower within their first year, but they can grow for more than just a year.

Perennials, particularly small flowers, flower during the spring and summer, but die back in the winter, only to grow back in the spring again. 

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What Are Annuals? 

An annual plant is one that completes its life cycle in one year, from the time of germination to the time it produces seeds. The annual plant flowers during the spring and summer then die during the winter and do not regrow again. 

Instead, it will produce seeds on the flower head that are scattered after the plant’s death. These seeds may eventually germinate, and regrow the following year. 

Are Alyssum Perennials or Annuals?

Would it confuse and surprise you to know that they can be both? The fact that these plants have evolved to survive in different conditions may have something to do with their dual status. 

Let’s see why exactly alyssum conforms to being perennials and annuals. 

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Why Are Alyssum Both Perennials and Annuals?

It has everything to do with ‘where’ they are being grown. If animals and humans can adapt themselves according to the climate, why can’t plants too? Alyssum can do this. 

Climates with Mild Winters

Alyssum growing in climates with mild winters does not necessarily die. Alyssum is quite a hardy plant and can tolerate light frost and is drought resistant. So the plant survives, and once the cold has passed, it will grow and flower again.

These plants are known as perennials, and they can live for many years by surviving winter by dying back. 

Some examples of perennials are Daylilies, Thyme, and Hibiscus.

Climates with Severe Winters

Alyssums that grow in climates with severe winters that have snow or frosts, cannot survive the harsh weather, so they die! However, they leave behind the seeds, which will germinate and grow.

Alyssums are annuals here, so they live for one year only. And in the following year, the previous year’s seeds will grow. 

Some examples of annuals are Lettuce, Cereal crops (Corn, Wheat), and Pumpkin.

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How Does Being Annual or Perennial Affect Alyssum? 

Depending on which zone you live in, you can determine if your alyssum is annual or perennial. 

  • This helps you, knowing if you will have to buy more alyssum seedlings to replant or if your old alyssum has taken care of that itself. 
  • On the other hand, if you have to buy seedlings, there are many new varieties to choose from. There are also harder versions to try out. 
  • Knowing if your alyssum will come back or not will also let you know if you have to clear the flower bed or not
  • It also lets you plan out which flowers will flower when and if your garden will be bare or not. 

Benefits Of Annuals

What can short-lived annual alyssum plants offer that the perennials cannot? Read on to find out what the benefits of growing annuals are. 

  1. Annual plants live for only a year, this gives you the opportunity of trying out other varieties of alyssum or other plants. 
  2. Alyssum plants that are annuals germinate faster and put all of their energy into growing quickly and flowering all season. 
  3. Flowers for longer periods of time and are very showy and appealing to pollinators. 
  4. These plants have very showy and fragrant flowers that come in a multitude of colors, to attract as many pollinators as possible, apart from which, also look good in your garden.
  5. Whether you buy your alyssum as seeds or saplings they are still cheaper than perennials, and you can plant a different color or variety every year. 
  6. Once you plant your annual, there is very little work to be done, besides watering it. Unlike with perennials where some maintenance is needed.

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Benefits Of Perennials

Having perennials in your garden is a good choice for someone who is not a really keen gardener. You want a great garden but might not be into the nitty-gritty of a do-over every year. 

  1. One of the greatest advantages of having perennials in the garden is that there is no need for replanting every year. They grow back every year and this reduces the cost of having to buy seeds and replant them every year. 
  2. Also, you won’t have to clear out a flower bed after the plant dies back. 
  3. Bloom for shorter periods of time and are not as showy. 
  4. The need for mulching and composting is also not there.
  5. Perennials also aerate the soil, as they will be there for two or three years. 
  6. The plants also help bring nutrients to the surface, where they can be accessed by other plants, such as Nitrogen. Another thing perennials bring to the surface is water, which again it helps other plants with shallow roots.

Although perennials may partially die back, they still retain most of their foliage, which gives cover to other low-growing plants and prevents the sun from evaporating moisture from the soil.


As you have seen, depending on the climate in which you live, alyssum can either be a perennial or an annual. This can come with the advantage of being more manageable than other plants that lack this unique status. 

  • An alyssum is a perennial if you are in a mild climate that does not experience much frost or extreme cold
  • An alyssum is an annual if you live in colder climates that have frost. 

Knowing which zone you live in and what winters usually look like in your area will give you clues about what type of alyssum you will have. 

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Does Alyssum Spread?

Yes, seeing as alyssum plants can produce as many seeds as flowers, these plants can spread far if all these seeds were to circulate and germinate. Plus, soil conditions are not that strict and they can even lay roots in rocky crevices where most other plants wouldn’t dare grow! Plus these seeds will usually germinate with sun and water, making it quite invasive! 

Can Alyssum survive winter?

Alyssum plants can handle slight frost. But anything below the point of freezing will kill these plants almost immediately as they are built to withstand such temperature drops. Especially so since these plants are more accustomed to having sunny conditions. After all, they do originate from the Mediterranean!