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How to Grow Sea Thrift — Armeria

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Armeria is a low growing, long-blooming perennial. It is both drought-tolerant and salt spray tolerant making it a good choice for both seaside and inland gardens. Sea thrift has grass-like leaves growing in tufts and commonly pink flowers on long stems.

The genus Armeria comprises dwarf perennials with evergreen leaves in rosettes and numerous flower-heads on wiry stems from spring to autumn.

Plant Armeria at the front of a border or as edging. Armeria is also a good choice for containers and rock gardens.

Armeria are often called sea-pinks and thrift.

 Sea pink, Armeria maritima
Sea pink, Armeria maritima

Get to know Armeria

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 4-9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -35°F (-37°C); drought tolerant once established; prefers cool nights
  • Height and width: 3 to 8 inches (8-20cm) tall; 10 to 12 inches (25-30cm) wide
  • Foliage: Linear, grass-like leaves in rosettes
  • Flowers: Lollipop-like flowers 1-inch (2.5cm) across on wiry stems
  • Flower color: Pink shades, red, white
  • Bloom time: Mid-spring through early summer
  • Uses: Sea Thrift is well suited for the coastal area, rock gardens; use sea thrift as an edging
  • Common name: Sea thrift, sea pinks, thrift
  • Botanical name: Armeria
  • Family: Plumbaginaceae
  • Origin: Pacific coast of North and South America

Where to plant Armeria

  • Plant Armeria in full sun in Zones 4-5; plant in light shade in Zones 6-9.
  • Grow Armeria in well-drained, sandy soil. Sea thrift will tolerate poor, dry, sandy soil.

Armeria uses and companions

  • Mass Armeria as a groundcover.
  • Use Armeria as edging or foreground plants in a flower border.
  • Add Armeria around rocks in a rock garden of use in a seaside garden.
  • Good companions for Armeria include Iberis sempervirens, Lychnis coronaria, Stachys lanata.

When to plant Armeria

  • Set out established Armeria plants in spring or fall.
  • Sow seed in the garden in spring; sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autumn.
Armeria maritima, commonly known as thrift, sea thrift, or sea pink
Pink blooming Armeria maritima, commonly known as thrift, sea thrift, or sea pink

Planting and spacing Armeria

  • Space Armeria 10 to 12 inches (25-30cm) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil in spring.
  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autumn.

How to water and feed Armeria

  • Keep the soil moderately moist.
  • Armeria can be fertilized spring with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Armeria care

  • Mulch around sea thrift to keep roots cool and the soil moist.
  • Divide Armeria in spring or fall every 2 or 3 years.
  • Trim Armeria flowers to keep the plant flowering.

Armeria pests and diseases

  • Where summers are hot, plants may rot from the center.
  • Prone to spider mites and aphids when started indoors.
Armeria flower
Armeria flower

Armeria propagation

  • Divide clumps in spring or fall every three years.
  • Sow seed in fall or spring.
  • Armeria seed will germinate in about 28 days at 60°F (15°C). Soak seed in tepid water for 3 or 4 hours before sowing.
  • Root basal cutting in summer.

Armeria varieties to grow

  • Aermeria juniperifolia: stiff, needle-shaped leaves; compact rosettes; flowers rose-pink or white; requires good drainage.
  • Armeria maritima, common thrift: is the most popular species; tufted mounds to 12 inches (30 cm) high; flowers on 10-inch stalks are white, red, or pink blooms; blooms most of the year. Cultivars include: ‘Pride of Dusseldorf is wine-red flowers; ‘Alba’ is white on 5-inch stems; ‘Laucheana’ has crimson flowers;‘Rubrifolia’ has purple-pink flowers.
  • Armeria pseudarmeria, plantain thrift has white or pink-toned flowers.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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