Plant Pick – Growing Thrift (Armeria)
I think I must’ve first come across Thrift (Armeria) when I was a lad holidaying in Scotland. Our family didn’t head abroad, but jumped in the car and journeyed to the stunning landscapes of the Lake District, Scotland and Northumberland. I distinctly remember great swathes of thrift clinging to the wind battered cliffs of the Farne Island; whilst being pecked to death by over-zealous and territorial terns. Thrift, therefore, has always had a sense of nostalgia for me, and it’s great for use in gardens.
One of the things I love about Armeria, in fact, many of the my favourite specimens, is the degree of ease it is to keep. Bung a plant in a well draining pot or flower bed, and you’ll be rewarded with a carpet of colour the following spring. All you need do is to snip off the dying flowerheads to encourage yet more blooms, and thrift will be extremely happy. It’s also an evergreen, so it’s extremely welcome in my garden.
Another huge benefit is that because they’re native to the UK, they’re also excellent for wildlife gardens. We tend to think of wildlife-friendly patches as great wildflower meadows left to naturalise. In fact, a rockery can also be an ideal home to many creatures, with its nooks and crannies offering paces for animals to live. Add a beautiful collection of flowering alpines, and you’ve got wildflowers and an insect hotel in one! Thrift also makes an ideal specimen for pots, and will grow over the side to create a carpet of green. It’s cheap, easy to grow and beautiful; is there anything better?
Name: Thrift (Armeria)
Thrives In: Full sun. I have kept some pots in partial shade, and though they grow, they don’t bloom as prolifically.
Yearly Care: No pruning required; yeehah! I would advise snipping off the dying flowers to encourage new buds and keep specimens looking tidy. If you’re growing in pots, foliage will also creep over the sides as it grows. It’s worthwhile potting up every few years so you don’t get dieback in the middle.
Growing Medium: Well drained soil that has grit mixed in. I often place grit on the surface too so that as the carpet forms, it doesn’t rot from beneath if the environment becomes too wet.
Quick Tip: For best use, utilise thrift in pots, either on its own or with other alpine species. Left to grow into a carpet and cover the entire surface of a pot, it’ll create a stunning display in flower. Two pots could be placed either-side of a doorway for a lovely entrance statement.