Growing Armerias in Containers- Growing Thrift, Pincushions or Sea Pinks

Armerias are great plants in containers
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow the dainty perennial of Armeria in containers. This is a plant that belongs to the Plumbaginaceae family the plumbago family, where over a hundred species are known to exist. Most are naturally found growing in the Mediterranean, with one species  A. maritima found naturally growing in coastal regions of Ireland and Cornwall.

Armerias are great plants in containers
Armerias are great plants in containers

The plant looks great mixed with other plants and bulbs in a container, where the grassy-like evergreen leaves are densely packed into hummocks. Above the sea of leaves, dainty round clusters of pink/lavender/white pompon–like flowers are borne on top of slender stems. The flowers are often borne so numerously that they cover the leaves and are produced from mid to late spring. It will over time spread slowly and so make great specimen plants in small containers.

Find out how to grow this small delightful plant in this article.

 GROWING ARMERIA IN CONTAINERS

Usually, most people buy Armerias as garden-ready plants but they can be grown from seeds, overwintered to flower next year and for many years to come.

 GROWING ARMERIA FROM SEED

You can grow Armeria from seed in early spring through to early summer for over-wintering. You will need to soak the seeds in lukewarm water to break the hard shell and start the germination process.

After this, you will need to fill a seed tray with seed compost and water it to make sure it is moist. Carefully sow the pre-soak seeds on the surface and just cover them with a very fine layer of sieved compost. Place in a propagator lid on top and place in a warm, dark area. After 14 to 28 days the seed will germinate, but it will be erratic, so be patient.

Once germinated bring it to a light spot and allow the seedlings to grow on. Once they are large enough to handle, prick them out and transplant them individually into 7.5cm pots full of multipurpose compost. Let them grow on in cool conditions, a cold frame or cool greenhouse is ideal. Once large enough you can plant them outside.



 HOME-REARED PLANTS AND SHOP-BOUGHT PLANTS CAN BE TREATED THE SAME WAY
Armeria maritima 'Bloodstone'
Armeria maritima ‘Bloodstone’

At this stage, shop-bought plants and home-reared seedlings can be treated in exactly the same way. First, choose a container that is shallow but wide enough to suit the plant or plants in question. Whatever, you choose make sure it has plenty of drainage holes. To the bottom of this container add a 1cm layer of gravel to aid drainage. On top of this add a mix of 80% by volume of multipurpose compost with 20% by volume of horticultural grit to create a well-draining growing media. Fill the container to 5cm below the top rim.

Dig a hole in the compost that is slightly bigger than the original container it came in. Drop the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top surface of the compost. Backfill with the growing media using more compost if any gaps remain. Firm it in and water well.

 GROWING CONDITIONS FOR ARMERIAS
Armeria maritima 'Pride of Düsseldorf'
Armeria maritima ‘Pride of Düsseldorf’

It will spread to the edges of the container over time. Place it in full sun to be at its best, but they will tolerate a certain degree of shade. Do not fertilizer as the leaves will fall outwards leaving an open centre.  They prefer poor composts, so do not fertilize unless the plant is showing signs of lack of nutrients (see my article on this on how to determine this).

Water regularly until it is established and after that, it will take drought pretty well. Water when 5cm below the top surface of the compost feels dry to the touch. You will need to deadhead the spent bloom as this may encourage a second flush in summer.

 PESTS AND DISEASES

The plant does not readily suffer from diseases and pests and so makes them an ideal plant. If you do not get the growing media right and make it free-draining, it can suffer from crown rots in winter rains. It is important to get the growing media right.

If the leaves get too wet they can suffer from rot, so be sure to get good air circulation around the plant to allow the leaves to dry out.

 VARIETIES TO GROW

Armeria juniperifolia
Armeria juniperifolia

You will find most varieties are based on the native thrift, Armeria maritima which grows up to 20cm high. You can grow pink varieties such as  ‘Vindictive’, ‘Dusseldorfer Stolz’,  ‘Pride of Düsseldorf, ‘Splendens’, ‘Pink’ and ‘Armada Rose’.

For reds grow ‘Bloodstone’ and for whites go for ‘Alba’.

A more compact variety is A. juniperifolia

 CONCLUSIONS

In this article, we have discussed how to grow the dainty perennial of Armerias in containers.  They can be grown from seed but even easier from garden-ready plants. They are wonderful plants to look at, especially when you want flowers in May-June. Armerias are easy to grow, easy to care for and tend to be pests and diseases-free. Grow them for their beauty in the container garden.

If you have comments or questions that you want to make on growing Armerias in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Armeria growing.

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