Alyssum is a type of annual plant that blooms in clusters of colorful flowers such as violet, white, red, and pink that make you smile whenever you look at them. However, when taking care of these plants, you might wonder if cutting them back is a bad idea. Will it cause them to stop flowering?
Alyssum will rebloom if it’s cut back. In fact, cutting the plants back is beneficial because it encourages them to produce more flowers and ensures that you’ll see new buds forming on the plants faster.
In this article, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about cutting back your alyssum to encourage new plant growth. I’ll also look at some essential tips for looking after an alyssum after it’s been cut back so that you can nourish the plant properly.
How Cutting Back Plants Encourages Blooming
Cutting back plants is not just about removing flowers, such as when you deadhead plants, although that can form part of the cutting-back process to assist the plant. Generally, though, cutting back plants allows them to become stronger so that they can flourish.
How you cut plants back is important because if you don’t follow the correct steps, you won’t see lots of flowers appear on the plant. You could even put too much stress on the plant. Here are some tips to follow when cutting back alyssum plants.
- Cut the plant back by one-third when it reaches approximately six inches (15.24cm) in height. This will encourage the growth of new stems.
- Allow the plant to grow for a month before cutting it back by one-third again. This is important as it will help the plant to grow multiple flowers. Although the plant might produce flowers at a later stage, there will be more of them.
- You can also remove the first two blooms on the plant. This is known as “pinching,” and it will jumpstart the plant to produce more flowers. The plant will also become bushier with more flowers, as The Star reports. Alyssum tends to bloom during spring and fall. When it’s very hot, the plant will slow down its growth. If you don’t remove spent blooms, the plant will cease to flower.
- Cut the plant to about half of its length when you can see that it isn’t flowering as much. This will encourage it to start another cycle of flowering. To do this, cut leaves above one of its tiny branches.
- Shear the entire plant back with hedge shears after the plant has bloomed. I’d recommend garden hedge shears that are ergonomically designed and reduce physical exhaustion.
- After cutting back your alyssum, make sure you water the plant well. This will ensure that the plant is taken care of and will bloom within a week or two.
- After watering, you can also fertilize alyssum with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer. I’d recommend Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose Plant Food, available from Amazon. One application feeds plants for up to three months, and you can use it on established flowers, groundcovers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables.
- During the summer, if you’ve neglected your alyssum, it can benefit from being cut back to a height of between 2-4 inches (5.08-10.16cm). This revives the plant, which can become brown from not being watered enough.
Methods To Cut Back Alyssum Plants
Cutting back plants is best done during the fall and spring, but there is a difference between light shearing and hard cutting. Here’s what to know about them and when it’s recommended that you use them.
- Light shearing. This is when you take the plant back by about half. Where you cut the plant is where it will bloom flowers. To lightly shear alyssum, grab a bunch of flowers in your hand and cut them by half. Use hand pruners so you don’t damage the foliage. Alyssum is sometimes called a perennial, so it’ll benefit from being lightly sheared at the stem base early in spring or late in fall, as SFGate reports.
- Hard cutting. This is when you cut the plant almost all the way down to the ground. This encourages new growth of foliage that’s fresh and healthy, which will also bloom. This is great maintenance for plants that are looking old, tired, and scraggly so that you rejuvenate their growth and improve their appearance, helping your alyssum spread further.
Mistakes To Avoid When Cutting Back Alyssum
It’s never a good idea to cut back your plant without first thinking about how to do it properly, as this can cause several mistakes to be made and prevent your alyssum from reblooming. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when cutting back your plants.
- Cutting back or pruning your plants at the wrong time. Since your plants bloom during the spring, cutting them back sets their flower buds on the previous year’s growth, as HGTV reports. What this means is that if you cut the plant too late in the summer or just before it’s supposed to bloom, this will interrupt its blooming cycle.
- Using blunt or rusty blades. Make sure the tools you use to cut back or prune your plants are sharp so that you won’t injure the plant or cause unattractive scraggly edges when cutting. You also want to ensure the tools are oiled and in good condition to prevent the spread of disease.
- Trimming plants at the end of the growing season. During this time of the year, plants are vulnerable to low temperatures and cold, so you should save light trimming or pruning of your alyssum and other plants for the peak growing period.
Reasons Why Your Alyssum Won’t Rebloom
You might find that your alyssum is simply not blooming. Sometimes this plant blooms from spring all the way to the first frost before going into dormancy during the hottest time of the year. This isn’t anything to worry about because it will flower again when the weather cools down a bit. Some plants become dormant to preserve their resources.
It’s also important to note that not all alyssum varieties bloom a lot. Older varieties (lobularia maritima) are cold-hardy and bloom during fall and spring while experiencing a lull in the summer. Newer varieties (lobularia hybrids) bloom throughout the season, as Garden Design reports.
If your alyssum isn’t going into dormancy and it’s not a type of plant that doesn’t bloom a lot, your alyssum might be battling to grow and flower because something’s lacking in its care. In this case, it’s not just cutting back alyssum that will revive the plant. There are other important steps you should take to ensure that it continues to bloom. Here are some to bear in mind:
- Keep its soil moist and well-draining. This is especially important when the weather is dry and hot as it prevents plants from dying prematurely. During this time, cut it back by a third and water it regularly. Alyssum needs an inch (2.54cm) of water every week, but water it more regularly during dry, hot weather.
- Avoid overwatering alyssum plants. Alyssum in containers needs to be watered when the top two inches (5.08cm) of its soil is dry. This will prevent you from overwatering your plants.
- Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizer. If you feed alyssum fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen, this can cause the plant to grow soft leaves and sparse flowers. In-ground plants don’t require fertilizer as long as the soil is healthy.
- Give indoor potted alyssum monthly fertilizer feedings. This should be done with a liquid fertilizer. Indoor plants require fertilizer because their soil isn’t as enriched as soil outside.
- Give alyssum six to eight hours of sunlight every day. This will ensure that the plant can thrive and bloom. During the summer, you should protect the plants from the harsh afternoon sun that can be damaging to them.
- Avoid transplanting your plants at the wrong time. You should transplant your alyssum in the spring. This will ensure that the plant has abundant flowers on display, especially if you have a shorter growing season, as Wisconsin Horticulture reports. The bonus of starting alyssum as transplants is that they’ll bloom earlier than alyssum started directly in the garden from seeds.
- Avoid overcrowding your plants. If you’re planting many alyssum plants together, ensure that there are between six and 12 inches (15.24-30.48cm) of space between them so that they don’t struggle for enough nutrients and light.
You should also read my guide on whether alyssum reseeds itself. You find out how to start alyssum seeds outdoors and whether you can harvest seeds from these plants: Does Alyssum Reseed Itself? What You Need to Know
Growing an alyssum is rewarding, especially when the plants bloom in gorgeous flowers and make your garden look stunning. However, cutting these plants back and trimming them regularly is advised to keep them engaged in a flowering cycle. Cutting back your alyssum plant has several benefits. These include:
- Removing spent flowers to make space for new ones.
- Reviving the plant for a new blooming cycle.
- Increasing foliage for the general well-being of the plant.