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Plant Profile: Common Thrift (Armeria maritima)

Also called sea pink, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the plumbago family, Plumbaginaceae, that also includes leadwort (Ceratostigma) and statice (Limonium). It is native to the Mediterranean area where it grows in full sun and lean, well-drained soil, and tolerates seaside conditions. Growing 6-12″ tall, plants produce tufts of narrow, stiff, grass-like dark green leaves four to eight inches long. In late spring, wiry leafless stems carry solitary, globose flowerheads of small pink or white flowers that are subtended by purplish papery bracts and extend well above the foliage. The flowerheads are 1-1/2” across and persist for two to three weeks. Many cultivars are available differing most significantly in plant height, and flower size and color. A good choice for edgings, front of the borders, as well as wall  and rock gardens.  The genus name, Armeria, is Latanized from the old French name aarmoires for a cluster-headed dianthus.  The specific epithet, maritima, is the Latin word meaning relating to the sea, and refers to one of the possible habitats of the plant.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Solitary, globose flowerheads of small pink or white flowers subtended by purplish papery bracts in late spring

Size: 6-12″ H x 6-12″ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Lean, dry, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Deadhead to prolong bloom.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed. division

Companion Plants: Lavandula augustifolia, Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Aurinia saxatilis

Outstanding Selection: ‘Robusts’  ( 12-15” tall; flower heads up to 3” across)