Armeria or Thrift is an Alpine Perennial with spiky or stem foliage that adds that much needed novel texture to the masses of mounding and spreading plants in most Alpine rock gardens. The puff-ball pink to red blooms look cute on top of a thick bladed leafless clump of grass. When not blooming, Thrift is easily mistaken for grass and sometimes gets weeded out for it only grows about six- to eight-inches tall.
Armeria’s flowers are adorable tiny trumpets clustered tightly around a small globe. A close examination of these intricate flowers shows how amazing they are.
Thrift, like most Alpines is an easy-does-it sort of plant. Their requirements (other than well-drained soil) are non-existent. No staking, no fertilizing, no trimming no fussing over, Thrift tolerates poor soils and is even salt-tolerant. Any area in a yard along a driveway or curb and gutter that receives winter ice-melt is the spot to plant Thrift. Non-aggressive, non-invasive and non-picky over types of soils, Thrift is easy does it. Give it plenty of sun and well-drained soil and leave it alone.
Armeria’s evergreen winter foliage develops year ’round and the center may get tired and die out, so removing it will improve the perennial’s appearance. A plant with a dead center problem is usually solved by dividing the perennial, but Thrift is pitifully slow to regroup, so make sure the dividing is done in early spring as soon as a shovel can get through the ground. Keep the new sections good-sized to give thrift a leap-up before the high energy of bloom-time begins. Fall division would not give Armeria enough time to form a protective root ball before winter weather sets in. Growing Armeria by seed may be an easier choice. The seed germinates quickly but as in division, the plants are slow to establish.
The above picture shows a hybrid Thrift called ‘Ballerina’. The flowers with their remarkable red colors are appealing but the hardiness is questionable. Tried-and-survived perennials are wise choices for high elevation gardens. Other zone-three Armerias are a white ‘Alba’ or Cottontail and Armeria ‘splendens’.
Thrift – A Beautiful Addition to Your Perennial Garden Palette
Debi Borden-Miller from Welby Gardens in Colorado has some great tips for planning out a perennial garden for bloom spring through autumn. Learn why your perennial garden needs a variety of heights, sun and shade tolerance, and foliage texture.