Sea Thrift Companion Plants

Armeria maritima, commonly known as sea thrift, is the ideal xeric or seaside perennial. Sea thrift grows easily in poor soil and has deceptively delicate-looking flowers that can tolerate heavy winds and salty sea air. Gardeners can add this naturally mounding perennial to sunny, dry areas, such as rock gardens and water-wise designs, for a long period of bright color early in summer. The tall wands of flowers are available in pink, purple, and white, blending beautifully with other perennials that have either flower or foliage interest. 


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Typically sea thrift is found on the West Coast of the United States, although it will readily grow anywhere in USDA zones 4-8 as long as the planting site drains well. Sea Thrift is surprisingly cold hardy as long as the soil continues to drain well during cold weather, and it often retains its foliage in areas that have little to no snowfall. Gritty and sandy soils are ideal for keeping the root system healthy. 

Shrubs To Plant With Sea Thrift

Sea thrift can be used as an underplanting or facing plant for shrubs that thrive in poor soils and full sun. Natives such as snowberry, witch hazel, viburnum, spirea, and sumac have naturally open and informal shapes that blend with the lightness of sea thrift’s flower wands. Other water-wise shrubs like cotoneaster, mugo pine, prickly pear cactus, and Rosa rugosa are natural companions and provide textured, evergreen backdrops for sea thrift.   

Perennials To Plant With Sea Thrift

When designing a garden bed with sea thrift, select plants that are likely to thrive in lean soil and hot weather. Sea thrift in combination with heather, sedum, and dianthus makes a striking and low-maintenance vignette, requiring virtually no fertilizing or supplemental watering once all plants are established. Other small clumping ornamental grasses, candytuft, hens & chicks, and Artemisia are just a few other tough but showy perennials to consider.  


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Annuals To Plant With Sea Thrift

Just like perennials, the annuals you choose to grow with sea thrift need to flourish in dry, hot locations. Some of the best options include California poppies, globe amaranth, zinnias, and cosmos, which share the free flowering habit of sea thrift and offer contrasting or complementary colors for a long season. A few tender perennials that are often grown as annuals such as bougainvillea, moss rose, and lantana combine easily with sea thrift, especially in containers or hanging baskets. 

Best Companion Plants For Sea Thrift in Containers

Sea thrift is adaptable and grows well in drier soil, making it a great choice for containers. It can be used as both a filler and spiller plant positioned at the edge of a container. Try planting it with Dracena, asparagus fern, and purple fountain grass for a simple but elegant design. It also combines well with dipladenia, mandevilla, and bougainvillea trained up a trellis or pergola. Its shallow roots won’t compete with the other plants and require less watering than other warm-season annuals. 

Sea thrift will need a container with plenty of drainage holes and a well-draining potting mix. Avoid peat moss blends, which retain too much moisture for sea thrift.

Plants Not To Grow With Sea Thrift

Plants that require rich and consistently moist soil are decidedly the wrong plants to grow with sea thrift. Poor companions include canna lilies, shrub roses, hydrangeas, and dahlias. Plants that prefer shady locations such as ferns, hostas, hellebores, and bleeding hearts will also struggle alongside sea thrift. 

Best Plants To Grow With Sea Thrift

Grow sea thrift with plants that have low water needs and enjoy full sun, even during the hottest part of the summer. Xeric and native plants will be the best choices for creating a low-maintenance design with sea thrift. For a no-fuss design, combine sea thrift with snowberry shrubs, acorus grass, and low-growing heather and enjoy the color for at least 9 months of the year.


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Sources“Armeria maritima.” Plants of the World Online, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.