The Complete Guide for Little Gem Candytuft (Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’) Care


The Little Gem Candytuft, otherwise known as the Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ or Possumhaw, Possumhaw Holly, Deciduous Holly, Meadow Holly, Prairie Holly, Swamp Holly, Welk Holly, Deciduous Yaupon, Bearberry, Winterberry, is a somewhat well known shrub plant native to the Southeast, Northeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

Best known for its low maintenance and moderate growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Little Gem Candytuft is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Little Gem Candytuft Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Little Gem Candytuft can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Little Gem Candytuft needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.
  • Light: Keep your Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Little Gem Candytuft in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Little Gem Candytuft is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Little Gem Candytuft plants

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Little Gem Candytuft belongs to the Aquifoliaceae family, the genus Ilex and the species Decidua, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ (i-BE-ris sem-per-VY-renz).

As with other Ilex’s, the Little Gem Candytuft is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Little Gem Candytuft is a plant native to the United States. This is why the Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in Southeast, Northeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

You might be wondering why your Little Gem Candytuft’s native region is important. Well, if you know where your plant originally came from, you’ll know which environment conditions it prefers, and with it, knowledge on how to replicate it at home.

With this in mind, the Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ will be most used to regions where the plant hardiness level falls between 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a.

Growth and Size

Growth

In terms of size and growth, the Little Gem Candytuft is a relatively moderate grower, which makes things somewhat easy for any plant enthusiast.

Size

But what exactly does this mean for your Little Gem Candytuft? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

The Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ can grow up to 7′ – 15′ (210cm – 4.5m) in 7′ – 15′ (210cm – 4.5m) and 5′ – 12′ (150cm – 3.6m) in 5′ – 12′ (150cm – 3.6m). 

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful compact shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

Water

In terms of watering, the Little Gem Candytuft is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat irregular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Little Gem Candytuft care

Watering

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Little Gem Candytuft in soil with moist but well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, moist, occasionally dry, and occasionally wet properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Little Gem Candytuft is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Little Gem Candytuft prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, occasionally dry, and occasionally wet properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

This is why most experts agree that the Little Gem Candytuft requires soil with clay, loam (silt), and sand, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Little Gem Candytuft requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).

Season

Being an evergreen plant, the Little Gem Candytuft will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.

Flowers

You can expect your Little Gem Candytuft to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring).

In particular, this shrub is well known for its fragrant and showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Little Gem Candytuft produces some beautiful white, or green and white flowers around this time of year.

Foliage

The leaves from the Little Gem Candytuft have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ to be around (1-3 inches) in size.

Little Gem Candytuft up close

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Little Gem Candytuft is well known for being able to attract birds, so keep that in mind when choosing your plant, as you’ll likely end up finding one or another in your garden.

Additionally, it has a special tolerance for clay soil, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ will be fine.

Garden

Does your Little Gem Candytuft have any garden recommendations? Does it serve any gardening purposes? Here’s how you can get the most out of your new plant.

Most Iberis Sempervirens ‘Little Gem’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most cottage gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage styles. 

In particular, the Little Gem Candytuft’s best location within your garden is in hedges and screens, beds and borders, and in ponds and streams, others use it for landscaping in a coastal exposure, rock garden, border, container, or a woodland garden.

Conclusion

Even though we covered a lot of care information for your Little Gem Candytuft, remember the basics: sunlight, soil and water, as these should be enough to grow a healthy plant at home.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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