Basket-of-gold plants (Aurinia saxtilis) feature bright gold flowers that seem to reflect the sun’s golden rays. Although the individual flowers are small, they bloom in large clusters that intensify the effect. The plants grow a foot (30 cm.) high and as much as 2 feet (60 cm.) wide, and they make fantastic ground covers for sunny areas.
Basket-of-gold plant care is easy in areas with mild summers, but in hot, humid climates they tend to die back in midsummer. If shearing doesn’t revive them, try growing them as annuals. Sow seeds in summer or set out bedding plants in early fall. Pull up the plants after they flower the following year. Grow basket-of-gold flowers as perennials in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 7.
How to Grow Basket-of-Gold
Plant basket-of-gold in a sunny location with average, well-draining soil. The plants perform poorly in rich or overly moist sites. Keep the soil moist while the seedlings are small. Once they are established, cut back to an occasional watering to keep the soil from drying out. An abundance of moisture causes root rot. Use a very thin layer of organic mulch, or better yet, use gravel or another type of inorganic mulch.
Shear off the top one-third of the plants in summer after the petals drop. Shearing revitalizes the plants and prevents them from going to seed. The plants don’t need division to stay healthy, but if you want to divide them, do so right after shearing. In warm climates, you’ll have another opportunity to divide the plants in fall.
Basket-of-gold plants only need fertilizer every other year or so. Too much fertilizer results in poor flowering, and they may lose their compact shape. Scatter some organic fertilizer or a couple of handfuls of compost around the plants in fall.
You might find this plant labeled as yellow or basket-of-gold alyssum, although it is more closely related to rock cresses (Arabis spp.) than sweet alyssums. Two interesting A. saxtilis cultivars are ‘Citrinum,’ which has lemon-yellow flowers, and ‘Sunny Border Apricot,’ which has peachy-yellow blossoms. You can create a striking effect by growing basket-of-gold in combination with ‘Citrinum.’
Basket-of-gold flowers make excellent companions for spring bulbs and sedums.