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What is Iberis?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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Iberis is a hardy type of flowering plant often used in flower beds and rock gardens. They also make popular border plants, offering attractive, low-maintenance edging to outdoor spaces. Iberises are perennials with evergreen foliage and fragrant white flowers; they are often called candytufts or evergreen candytufts.

There are approximately 50 species of flowering plants, herbs, and subshrubs that fall under the genus of Iberis. Iberis sempervirens, the most commonly planted species, is typically referred to as simply "iberis" and is successfully grown in many parts of the world. Bees, birds, and butterflies are usually drawn to plants in the iberis family; they are a favorite source of sustenance for a rare type of butterfly known as the Portuguese dappled white.

Iberis plants are native to western Asia and southern Europe. Their leaves, roots, seeds, and stems are thought to have therapeutic properties and have a long history of treating ailments in the ancient world. Iberises were used to remedy asthma, bronchitis, gout, rheumatism, and several other conditions.

Flowers of the iberis bloom throughout the spring and early summer months, specifically in the early part of April. The flowers are usually abundant and contain four-petaled blossoms that are either white or off-white in color. Iberis flowering plants also produce a distinctive fruit, which is flat, green, and unappealing to the eye; the fruit is commonly trimmed off to avoid turning the iberis into an eyesore.

The leaves of the iberis plant are dark green and glossy. They typically grow to be around 1 inch (.025 m) long. The entire plant is naturally compact, but under the right conditions, it can flourish. A typical iberis grows to be 10 inches (.025 m) tall and around 2 feet (.61 m) wide.

Iberis plants prefer moist soil and necessitate a regular watering cycle. They enjoy full sunlight but can be cultivated successfully in partial shade. Iberises can be purchased in containers or started from seed; they are self-seeding and propagate with abandon. The plants can be sensitive when transplanting or shearing, so gardeners are typically advised to be cautious as stems can easily break off.

They are ideal garden plants, rock bed plants, or border plants. Their relatively low maintenance needs make them well-suited for each of these purposes. Iberises tend to spread with growth, and when planted on a higher plane, will grow downward in a natural cascade that is fragrant, functional, and attractive.

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