Candytuft is considered both an annual or a perennial, depending on the species, and the region in which it is grown. The plant can be grown in all hardiness zones, but according to Wildflowerinformation.org, candytuft are perennials in zone 3 through 9; and are considered annuals in colder regions. They are compact plants that vary in height from 6 to 20 inches. Candytuft have short stems and clusters of flowers with colors ranging from white, pink, lilac, purple and shades of rose. Both the annual and perennial variety of candytuft can be grown as small-scale ground covers, as edging or in garden pots.
How to Plant Candytuft Seeds
To get an early start on your candytuft, sow a packet of seeds approximately six weeks before the estimated last frost date. Place potting soil into each of your planting receptacles, filling them each up to approximately 1/2 inch from the top. Water each receptacle thoroughly.
Place two to three seeds into each receptacle, gently pushing them into the soil, and cover with no more than 1/16 inch of soil. Candytuft require light to germinate so seeds should be just barely covered.
Place your planting trays in an area that will provide both warmth (approximately 65 to 70° F) and plenty of light, eight hours of light each day.
Check your candytuft seeds every day. When the surface of the soil appears dry, spritz the seeds with your garden sprayer, don't over-water. Germination time for candytuft varies from two to four weeks.
When your candytuft reach approximately 3 inches in height, you can decide where you want to plant them in your garden, or if you want to keep them in containers, like barrels. Keep in mind that some varieties of candytuft, such as iberis sempervirens, are considered spreading plants which can reach heights of 18 to 20 inches and can require room to grow.
To plant your candytuft in containers, fill up each container approximately three-quarters full with potting mix. Water, letting the containers drain. To plant in the ground, choose a sun-filled location in your garden. Bear in mind, according to Sunset Plant Finder, all varieties of candytuft require good drainage. Make sure to rake the area level, and remove rocks, sticks or weeds.
Dig holes with are slightly wider and slightly deeper than your planting receptacle. Spacing for your candytuft should be approximately 6 to 9 inches apart. Remove a candytuft from its receptacle and place in a hole. Push soil in around your candytuft with your hand, or a trowel. Water each carefully, making sure not to drench the tender seedling.
Only water when necessary. According to wildflowerinformation.org, the plants prefer dry growing conditions. When the soil appears dry, water thoroughly. Allow soil to dry out in between waterings.
Planting Candytuft Seeds in the Ground
To start candytuft from seed directly in your garden, choose a sunny area in your garden and rake the area, removing any rocks, weeds or sticks. Water the area, but don't drench it.
Approximately three weeks before the last frost date in early spring, scatter candytuft seeds sparingly in your growing area.
Press the seeds into the soil with your hands, and cover with approximately 1/16 inch of soil. It's a good idea to place planting stakes in the area you just planted, so you'll know exactly where to water. With your garden mister, or plant sprayer, mist the area thoroughly. Or if you feel confident enough, mist the area using a garden hose. The topsoil should be moistened.
Check on the seeds frequently, at least once a day. Keep the area moist, not soaked, water once the topsoil appears dry.
Once your seedlings emerge, follow the steps above for care of your plants.