Armeria is a genus of flowering plants known as thrift or sea pinks, native to coastal regions of the northern hemisphere, most particularly around the Mediterranean. The plants are colorful and highly durable, as they are adapted to live in very adverse conditions. They can be seen throughout their native range along with other plants tolerant of poor soil and salt, and they are also cultivated in gardens as ornamental plants. Nurseries can carry seedlings, and it is also possible to use divisions from other gardeners to propagate new plants. Armeria should not be collected in the wild as this can destabilize wild populations of the plant, along with their native ecosystems.
Members of this genus have clumping, grass-like leaves that can cause them to look like ornamental grasses when they are not blooming. Flowers are globe-shaped and produced on tall stalks. They are often pink, but can also be white or purple. Deadheading will promote the development of more flowers in addition to keeping the plants looking neat and tidy in the garden. The plants are annuals and will continue to grow and develop in an area of the garden they are happy with.
Ideal growing conditions for Armeria involve well-drained infertile soil and full sun. The plants do not like to be fertilized or overwatered, and are drought tolerant, growing well in dry soils. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones three through eight generally provide good climate conditions for Armeria. Companion plantings can include other natives of the beach and dunes such as saltworts, iceplant, sea rocket, sea purslane, and coastal strawberries.
The most common mistakes gardeners make with Armeria are fertilizing and overwatering. The soil should not be worked with amendments to enrich it and fertilizer should not be added to the soil once the plants are established, as they have evolved to live on minimal nutrition. Too much water can cause the plants to become droopy and they may mold or rot in extremely wet conditions. If the soil is too damp, sand can be worked in to promote drainage.
These plants are highly suitable for low water gardening and xeriscaping, and are particularly popular for rockeries and other rock gardens. They can be grown along borders and edges, massed in beds, and cultivated in containers. With container gardening, it is important to check moisture levels before watering. Some containers retain water and may make the plants susceptible to damage as a result of excessive watering.