Tough perennial ground cover plant for full sun locations. Thrift is low growing forming mats of tiny interwoven leaves that will grow on almost any well drained surface from large beach stones to sand. Excellent for rockeries, path edging and even lawn replacement. It is very salt tolerant so is excellent for beach side gardens as it will grow right down to tidal flats, its native European location. It is also very tolerant of copper and can grow in areas of high copper soil content where most other plants will die. Needs little maintenance once established producing flowers year after year. Its very hardy up to zone 4, -3°F (-35°C). Deer don't seem to like it, they will eat it but only as a last resort. An excellent addition to any garden where there are areas of full sun.
Description of Thrift (Armeria maritima).
A very low growing plant it produces a round clump of narrow pointed leaves similar to grass blades but thicker and stronger. As the plant grows the clump becomes larger and larger filling in any spaces between it and it's neighbors. Given full sun it will spread quickly. In late spring long wiry stems, -up to 18 inches tall - rise from the mound producing a profusion of globe shaped flowers in many shades of pink, rose, coral, lilac, red and sometimes white flowers. Flowers last for a over a month and if cut down after flowering will often keep producing flowers until the frost although in less profusion that their spring bloom.
Growing Thrift (Armeria maritima) from Seed.
Seeds need to be cold stratified for at least 10 days before sowing. All our seeds have been cold stratified, but keep them in your refrigerator until you are ready to sow them for best results. Soak seeds in warm water for a few hours before sowing in light seeding mix. Sow in late winter for best results. Germination can take up to 25 days depending on temperature but its an easy plant to grow. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle transplant into individual pots to grow on to larger size. For detailed instruction on seeding see our General Growing Instructions
Location and Care of Thrift (Armeria maritima).
Any full sun area that is well drained it does not like any shade. Cannot tolerate wet conditions but will grow almost anywhere else. Excellent for rock gardens, along pathways, rockeries. In its native habitat this plant grows on stones on sheltered beaches. So it will grow on stones in your garden too. Its very salt tolerant so is an excellent plant for those who live near the shore. Replace your whole lawn with this and you wont even have to mow it! Well once a year after the blooms have ended to remove the old flower stems but that's all.
Thrift plants increase in size as they grow they have long tough roots especially on harsh soils and stones to anchor them in place so they don't really like being moved much once established so choose your location well.
Thrift tends to grow slowly to begin with so weeding around plants will be necessary for the first two years until the plants are established. Once fully rooted in they will continue to increase in size and bloom every year. They don't need much attention at all except removing the dead flower stalks. In very cold areas (zone 4 and colder) a layer of mulch in the winter will help survival especially if subjected to ocean winds.
Creating a Thrift (Armeria maritima) Lawn.
Thrift will not make a lawn the first year from seed. It will take about three years for the plants to establish and thicken enough to beat out all the weeds. If you try to plant all thrift the first year you will need to weed it for the first couple of years as the plants wont be strong or established enough to beat out the weeds. This can be a real pain and it not recommended. The best method for creating a thrift lawn is to Transition to thrift. This can be done in several ways.
Option 1 slow lawn removal.
If you already have a lawn, dig up sections and plant the thrift plants in it. Don't mow the lawn until the plants have become established and wont pull out when the mower goes over them. Then mow as usual. Each year replace more grass with thrift until the older plants have thickened enough to beat out the weeds. Should take about three years.
Option 2 Interplanting
For a new planting or a total lawn removal. Plant the thrift at about four inches (cm) apart.
Plant something else in between the thrift to take up the space and beat out the weeds. This can either be grass if you wish, but this will take more effort to remove once the thrift begins to spread and sometimes its hard to determine what is grass and what is thrift. We suggest you use a low growing flowering annual instead. The best one to use we find is Alyssum (Lobularia maritima). [https://www.floralencounters.com/Seeds/seed_detail.jsp?grow=Alyssum&productid=87661] This can be direct seeded between the Thrift, it grows fast and will beat out the weeds. Its short and has wonderful snowy white flowers that will make the area look wonderful, it also tolerates the same conditions as thrift including salt so makes a perfect companion. Since its an annual it will die back totally in the winter. Rake up the dead plants and reseed next year. Often the plants will reseed themselves. Continue until the Thrift has grow thicker and completely closed the gaps forming a full mat of plants. Then mow it once a year to remove dead flower heads.
Thrift is very soft and pleasant to walk on with bare feet, just now when its flowering.
Medical uses of Thrift (Armeria maritima).
While the plant does have antibiotic properties it is rarely used in herbal medicine.
Seathrift, Sea Pink