The thrift armeria is not a carnation. It belongs to the leadwort family and is also known under the names Alpine thrift, standing thrift and rock garden cloves. It belongs to the perennial, herbaceous and grassy perennials, is hardy and evergreen. Depending on the variety, it can reach heights of growth of up to 50 cm and a width of around 30 cm. The thrift is a very salt-tolerant perennial. The hemispherical, capitate inflorescences are perched on long stalks and can range in color from white, golden yellow and rose to bright red to fiery red and dark red with white edges. The flowering period begins in May and lasts until September.
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Due to the wind, the thrift partially sows itself, so that over time it also settles in other locations in the garden. Otherwise you can sow them in early spring, from February to April in pots or a so-called cold box, but also from August to September directly on the spot. For example, you can use seeds from your own plants from the previous year, provided they have been stored in a dry, dark and frost-free place since then.
Commercial seed soil is suitable for pre-cultivation in small pots. Place the seeds on the substrate and press them down lightly. Then slightly moisten the substrate, then place the pot in a warm place and do not cover it.
Depending on the type and origin of the seeds, it takes about 20-30 days to germinate. If the seeds do not germinate after this time, you may have to expose them to a 2-4 week cold period.
Once germination has taken place and after a few more weeks the seedlings are large and strong enough, they can be planted out in the garden. Usually the thrift does not bloom so lavishly in the first year, which it then catches up on the following year.
Specimens purchased from garden retailers are usually planted in spring, in March or April, or in autumn. However, they can normally be planted all year round provided the soil is frost free. There should be a distance of about 25 cm between the individual plants.
The thrift armeria loves full sun and warm locations, for example in rock gardens in combination with speedwell, blue cushion , saxifrage or catnip , but also locations near the coast. It feels particularly comfortable on dry, nutrient-poor grassland or salt marshes, although the latter are rarely found in a normal garden.
- Above all, the soil should be permeable.
- Even stony and acidic to neutral soils are no problem.
- Nutrient and water-poor soils are ideal.
- Heavy and too dense soils can be made more permeable with coarse sand.
- Otherwise, such soils could encourage root rot.
- Normally, however, any normal garden soil is suitable for growing the thrift.
watering and fertilizing
The water requirement of the Thrift is low. It tolerates drought much better than wet. It usually does not tolerate waterlogging. Normally it does not need to be fertilized at all. However, at the beginning of the vegetation period, you can apply a one-time light fertilization with a commercially available perennial complete fertilizer. After that, however, no further fertilization is required.
A pruning is usually not necessary for the thrift. However, in order to be able to enjoy lush flowering until autumn, the withered flowers should be cut off regularly. The last inflorescences are then removed in late autumn.
- The thrift is fully hardy.
- It usually gets along very well without any winter protection.
- If it is covered in winter, it may lose its fresh green leaves.
- However, it should be protected from permanent moisture or waterlogging.
- This applies all year round, but especially in the cold season.
- In the case of frost, protection from the winter sun makes sense for some varieties.
- Kahlfrost is frost near the ground without the presence of an insulating snow cover.
Propagation by cuttings
In addition to sowing, the thrift can also be propagated by cuttings or by division. For the propagation of cuttings, about 7.5 to 8 cm long cuttings are cut from young, basal shoots. The cuttings are cut off immediately at the base.
Then they are placed in small pots either in sand or a mixture of peat and sand and the substrate is well moistened. A cold frame is also very suitable for this. If propagated in pots, the cuttings or pots should be covered with a translucent film, for example conventional cling film, to ensure sufficient humidity. For example, you can bend the wires accordingly, stick them crosswise into the pots, place the foil over them and attach them to the sides with rubber.
After about 6 weeks the cuttings should have rooted. Once the cuttings begin to sprout, the foil should be removed from time to time and the whole thing ventilated to prevent mold and rot. In autumn, when the cuttings have formed and sprout sufficient roots, they can then be transplanted into the garden. However, they can also overwinter in a frost-free and cool room and only be planted out next spring.
multiply by division
The thrift can be divided in early spring or in autumn. It is usually divided when the flowering decreases more and more or the plants begin to bare from the inside out.
With a digging fork you get the perennial carefully out of the ground. You should damage the roots as little as possible. Then the rootstock is either carefully torn apart or divided with a sharp knife. If possible, the sections should have several shoots and be about the size of a fist.
Before you plant the sections again, you should remove dead and damaged as well as diseased root parts, as well as the possibly bare middle part of the plant.
Now the newly acquired plants can be planted separately from each other in their final location. Up to 25 plants can be planted per square meter for area-wide growth.
diseases and pests
The thrift tends to root rot especially in soil that is too heavy and therefore too wet or waterlogged. Signs of root rot include yellowish, limp leaves, reduced growth of the plant and a generally ailing appearance.
When digging up affected plants, their roots are usually muddy, which ultimately leads to their death. If an infestation is detected early, the plant should be cut back and planted in a new, drier location. With a bit of luck, it will then sprout again there.
The Thrift is a veritable survivor. It is a plant that is almost predestined for areas where other plants or perennials can hardly or not at all settle, because it is undemanding and, above all, very salt-tolerant. For example, it thrives very well in areas with saline soils or soils containing heavy metals. In order to get rid of the salt it has absorbed from the soil, it then deposits it in old leaves that are already dying.
The thrift also feels at home on sandy and stony soils, which are extreme conditions for other plants. Accordingly, it is also very suitable for rock garden planting or for planting dry stone walls. Incidentally, the dried herb of this plant has a healing effect, so that it can be used against various ailments and diseases.
- Thrift Armeria maritima ‘Vesuv’ – The ‘Vesuv’ variety not only impresses with its dainty, bright red flowers, but also with its unusual dark red foliage, which turns almost black in winter. Flowering time is from May to July and it reaches a height of 15-30 cm.
- Thrift Armeria Maritima Alba – This white-flowered thrift or sea thrift grows to about 10-15 cm tall. It blooms from May to July. Regularly cutting out faded flowers will be rewarded with a long-lasting, lush bloom. The bright white flowers contrast beautifully with the rich green, grassy foliage. It can be combined very well with pink or red flowering species.
- Seaweed Armeria maritima ‘Splendens’ – This richly flowering rock garden perennial grows to between 15 and 25cm tall and produces pink flower heads from May to June. It thrives particularly well on sandy soils. Plant about 12-16 plants of this variety per square meter for area-wide growth.
- Armeria maritima ‘Düsseldorfer Stolz’ – The variety ‘Düsseldorfer Stolz’ flowers from May to July in a bright, deep crimson-pink. It reaches growth heights of about 20 cm. Planted in smaller groups of 3-5, it is particularly effective in combination with blue cushion, pasqueflower or alyssum.
- Thrift Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Joystick Red’ – The variety ‘Joystick Red’ impresses with intense red flowers and a relatively long flowering period from June to August. It grows to a height of about 40 cm and should be protected from the winter sun when there is a frost. It is well suited for planting in small tuffs or groups of 1-5 plants.
The thrift armeria is a robust perennial that is easy to care for in the right location and can cope well with even the most adverse conditions. In larger groups with different types of thrift, it forms beautiful carpets of flowers in a relatively short time. But it also comes into its own in combination with other colored perennials. However, permanently damp soil and waterlogging could become a problem, but this can be almost completely ruled out by choosing the right location.