To a novel gardener, alyssum plants might not sound like anything amazing, but rather normal plants. However, there are several benefits of alyssum plants that apply to your garden and medicinally as well.
Alyssum is used as a traditional medicine for Gonorrhea, colds and flu, rabies, and kidney ailments. In the garden, alyssum helps you bring beneficial insects, and pollinators, and fill space while beautifying the garden.
What is an Alyssum?
Alyssum belongs to the mustard family and is native to the Mediterranean areas, the Canary Islands, and the Azores. This is a low-growing annual plant that has delightful small flowers mainly in white, pink, or purple.
These plants grow best in USDA zones 5 to 9. They prefer sun over shade and need frequent watering. Well-draining soil and infrequent watering are two things that will contribute to a thriving alyssum plant.
Alyssum plants belong to the same genus as collard greens, kale, chards, spinach, and other leafy greens. Therefore some variants of alyssum are even safe to use in salads.
Medicinal Benefits of Alyssum
Surprising to hear, but alyssum plants were once quite an important item in medicine in older times before pharmaceutical medicine! This may come as a shock but the plant may still be in use for traditional remedies.
1) Alyssum for Treating Gonorrhea & Colds
In Spain, alyssum historically earns its name as a treatment for various ailments. Alyssum has found use as a temporary treatment for Gonorrhea in early times. It is also used to treat regular cough and other cold symptoms as well as abdominal pains.
2) Alyssum to Treat Scurvy & Kidney Conditions
It has also proven helpful in the treatment of edema, and in abdominal swelling due to the buildup of fluid by liver disease.
Alyssum is also used to treat bleeding gums and is used as a painkiller. It removes excess fluids from the kidneys as well as supports kidney functions, promotes urine secretion, and helps the body to remove fluids. Alyssums treats scurvy and is a treatment for rabies.
It too provides the body with nutrients that are essential for well-being, it is a natural diuretic and can prevent certain kidney conditions. In Afghanistan, it is used to treat asthma and nervous conditions.
We might want to be grateful that we no longer live in ancient times, relying solely on the properties of plants and herbs to get better. But modern medicine comes at the price of side effects, many of which we do not think of.
Benefits of Alyssum to Gardeners
Yes, alyssum does look good, providing a flow of color in your garden, but they are more than eye candy! We have seen that they have helped mankind medicinally, but they can heal your garden too. They make for a great companion plant and decorative plant as well.
a. Attracts Beneficial Insects
The color of alyssum plants does not only attract our attention but insects too! Examples of beneficial insects attracted by alyssum plants are butterflies, hoverflies, and ladybugs.
These insects are beneficial to the alyssum and its companion plants; they help these plants by eating the pests that feed on the plant. The most common pests are aphids.
Without these “good insects” populations of aphids could get out of hand until there is an infestation. In such situations, gardeners or even horticulturalists will have no option but to spray with insecticide.
However many gardeners and small crop producers have come up with the idea of planting their crops alongside Alyssum. It is a cost-efficient and reliable way to manage pests as well as ensure pollinators visit all the plants in your garden.
In this way, the butterflies and ladybugs can eat any aphids that manage to get on to other plants. As a matter of fact, a ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day and seven spotted adult ladybugs may eat several hundred aphids a day!
Therefore Alyssum can be planted in between vegetables, in rows, or scattered around your flowers.
b. Alyssum as Garden Cover
Besides the visual concept, alyssum plants can also help to take up space in the garden. Alyssum can grow as a ground cover although it isn’t as flat as other ground covers. This makes it a great option to fill empty spaces in the garden.
What makes alyssum even more suitable for this is the fact that they are very low-maintenance plants. They are flexible when it comes to soil choice and they can even grow in the crevices of rocks!
The only sensitive requirement they have is more water. These plants do not do well if they are not watered well enough.
c. Grow Back Yearly
Another benefit of growing alyssum is that it grows back every year! This reduces the need for manual labor of having to replant the plants every year.
All you have to do is keep the flower heads on after flowering as this lets the seeds drop off once the heads are spent. Hence, these plants are quite capable of multiplying on their own. Another reason why this is a benefit is that it costs less to increase their numbers.
You don’t have to spend a lot and the plant will grow and multiply quite fast.
There are several benefits of alyssum, medicinally speaking as well as gardening-wise.
Alyssum was used for treating gonorrhea, colds, coughs, abdominal, pain, edema, scurvy, rabies, and a range of kidney-related problems.
When it comes to gardening, alyssum attracts beneficial insects, regrows every year, and fills garden space well.
Alyssum usually blooms from June all the way to the first frost. Additionally, the fact that they will bloom every year because they regrow every year is an added advantage. But upon deadheading the alyssum, you could experience several blooms in a single year.
Yes, alyssum will continue to regrow year after year even if it dies out this year. That’s because they drop seeds after flowering which will regrow when desirable conditions arise again.