Casting a cursory glance at a bright hat of flowers over a dense cushion of narrow green leaves, you immediately think – what an interesting carnation. You stop to take a closer look and you realize that this is a completely different plant, something subtly similar to a flower familiar to everyone. But this is an army. Apparently, the French in ancient times also confused these flowers, because the word “armeria” goes back to the old French designation of a bearded carnation.
Armeria is found both in Europe and in America. The Mediterranean, Siberia and Mongolia are also its habitat in the natural environment. In nature, there are about ninety species of this representative of the lead family, attracting the attention of flower growers and landscape designers, not only with a very spectacular view, but also with extreme unpretentiousness in care. All they need for long flowering and reproduction is sandy soil, rocky terrain, plenty of sunlight.
Blooming all summer, from May to September, the plant attracts with a dense bright cloud of large inflorescences, towering on bare or slightly pubescent peduncles 30-40 cm above a dense dense curtain of needle leaves. The dominant color of the inflorescences is pink in different shades. There are red, white and lilac flowers. Easily propagated by both seeds and lateral root processes, armeria forms a luxurious carpet of grass and flowers in a few years.
This quality is used by landscape designers to decorate mixborders, as flower borders along lawns or garden paths.
Growing armeria from seeds
Armeria seeds will be needed by the grower only once, when there is a desire to grow a new variety. Subsequently, there will be so much planting material that the surplus can be sold and exchanged for other plants, and simply shared in a neighborly way.
Sowing seeds for seedlings
At the very beginning of the calendar spring, in the first days of March, seeds of armeria are sown for seedlings. To awaken the seeds and get friendly shoots, it is advisable to stratify the seeds before sowing : keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, and immerse in warm water for several hours before sowing. To maintain the temperature of the water, the container is placed on the battery.
Soddy land and sand in equal quantities, a little sawdust or vermiculite – this is the ideal soil for sowing armeria for seedlings. Such a mixture will be quite light, loose, breathable.
They are sown both in containers and in separate cups to a depth of 0.5-1 cm. In a common container, planting should not be thickened, because the seeds of armeria are distinguished by excellent germination, and densely sown seedlings are easily injured during subsequent picking.
Accurate moderate watering of the soil, bright diffused light, temperature not less than 20 0 C, and in three weeks seedlings will appear.
The appearance of the first pair of true leaves indicates the need for picking. Sprouts from a common container, after pinching the central root, are seated in separate pots. If sowing was carried out in individual small cups, then they dive into larger ones.
Seedlings live on the windowsill in the same conditions as before the dive, until mid-May. 10-12 days before planting in open ground, seedlings are hardened: the window is opened so that the sprouts get used to direct sunlight and fresh air.
Transplantation in open ground
By the end of May, when the threat of the last frosts has passed, the young army is planted in the place allotted to it, which must be sunny, with sandy-stony soil, without stagnant moisture, with good drainage.
It is important to remember that armeria does not tolerate alkaline environments, preferring acidic soils. If there is excess alkali in the soil, then the place allotted for armeria is previously spilled to neutralize with acetic acid, and ammonium nitrate is added for digging.
Holes for seedlings of armeria are prepared in advance in the earth dug up with organic matter and cleared of weeds at a distance of at least 30 cm from one flower outlet to the next and about 40 cm to other plants. Such intervals are necessary due to the very rapid growth of armeria. If it is planned to grow a solid carpet or a dense flower path, then seedlings can be planted not in holes, but in trenches 20 cm apart.
Sowing armeria in open ground
To do without seedlings, planting seeds immediately in open ground in the fall, residents of areas with harsh winters can afford. Seeds thus undergo stratification in natural conditions.
The principles of planting in the ground are the same as the seedling method. But in the spring it is necessary to carefully carry out the first weeding so as not to tear out the armeria, the shoots of which are easy to confuse with weeds.
After planting, a developing plant requires fairly frequent watering. After full adaptation with the beginning of the development of a deep taproot, the flower itself will be able to extract the necessary amount of moisture. An exception will be the need for watering during periods of long dry and hot weather. So that the moisture at the roots does not stagnate, it is useful to loosen the soil around the sockets after watering.
Armeria will begin to bloom in the second year after planting. Before flowering, the plant must be fed with any complex mineral fertilizer. To prolong the flowering period and stimulate the largest number of peduncles, wilted inflorescences and peduncles are cut off.
The five-year army needs to be updated. In early spring, and better in late autumn, the plant is dug up, cut into several equal parts with a sharp knife so that each individual part has healthy roots and growth points. The resulting delenki, planted in new places, take root very easily and bloom in the coming season.
This procedure is called rhizome division. For armeria, the division of the rhizome is a mandatory procedure, the neglect of which leads to the degeneration of the plant: the root system will begin to suffer from fungal diseases, and the decorative part will degrade and lose its attractiveness.
In winter, perennial armeria will feel great under a rich layer of snow without much shelter. An exception is the soddy armeria: by the onset of cold weather, it is covered with spruce branches, non-woven covering materials.
Reproduction of armeria
Armeria is very easy to propagate in any of three ways:
- Self-seeding is a natural way of reproduction. If you need to get seeds of armeria, then it’s easier to do it in the following way. A wilted but not yet dried flower is tied with a cloth. After the flower is completely dry, it is cut off. After untying the fabric over the paper, pour out all the contents and select the seeds for drying, then pack them in a paper bag for storage. Armeria seeds remain viable for 2-3 years.
- The division of the rhizome is a necessary procedure that is carried out every five years
- Cuttings are the easiest way to obtain planting material. The mother bush will give birth to babies all season from spring to autumn – basal rosettes that are easily separated, quickly take root and will bloom by the end of their first season.
Types and varieties of armeria
In nature, there are at least 90 types of armeria, of which about 15 are in demand in floriculture and landscape design. The most popular of them are the following types:
- Armeria maritima – seaside armeria is most often found in flowerbeds and flower beds. It is this species that grows on the coasts, and in flower arrangements it feels great and looks very impressive near natural and artificial reservoirs. The bushes are compact, low (about 20 cm), blooms from May to August. Varieties differ in the color of inflorescences:
- Alba is an albino armeria with snow-white flowers (“Alba”)
- The pride of Düsseldorf is painted bright pink (“Düsseldorfer Stolz”)
- Brightness – a telling name for a variety of all shades of pink (“Splendens”)
- Corsica – salmon-colored armeria (“Corsica”)
- In red – passionate carmine shades of flowers (“In the Red”)
- Vindictive – bright red variety
Primorsky armeria are distinguished by their particular unpretentiousness, drought resistance and excellent decorative effect even without flowers.
- Armeria vulgaris is an ordinary garden armeria with peduncles up to 60 cm, on which inflorescences of a carmine-pink palette flaunt. The number of inflorescences forming one flower cloud reaches 40 pieces.
- Armeria juniperifolia – soddy, juniper-leaved armeria – the only species of this family, about which it is difficult to say that it is unpretentious. The vagaries of the soddy variety of armeria include the fear of direct sunlight, and intolerance to excess moisture, and the need for mandatory shelter for the winter. But all these nuances more than pay off during the flowering period of very compact (up to 15 cm) bushes: not every variety of other species can boast such abundant and lush flowering as varieties of soddy armeria:
- Alba – a snow-white hat of flowers (“Alba”)
- Bevan’s Variety – various shades of pink (“Bevan’s Variety”)
- Brookside with creamy pink flowers (“Brookside”)
- Rubra – salmon and ruby colors (“Rubra”)
- Beechwood – the most delicate cream pastel (“Beechwood”)
- Brno – lavender colors (“Brno”)
It is these low-growing, but densely flowering varieties that are used to obtain dense flower carpets, because their flowering is so plentiful that it hides the foliage.
- Armeria pseudarmeria – beautiful armeria (pseudo-armeria) – this species about 40 cm high is distinguished by especially dense greenery and spherical flowers on long peduncles:
- Joystick white – white flowers, height up to 35 cm (Joystick White)
- Thrift – up to 20 cm
- Red planet – red balls at a height of 35 cm
- Bees Ruby – flowers of bright pink colors, height 60 cm
- Armeria formosa – beautiful armeria – grass-like leaves are collected in small rosettes, and balls of flowers (about 5 cm) delight the eye almost until October
- Armeria alpina – alpine armeria – adorns the garden with silver-white, pale pink, lilac, lilac or salmon shades of flowers in the second half of summer, and the foliage of the alpine species is distinguished by rich dense greenery:
- Alba – white flowers
- Laucheana – different shades of red
- Rosea – bright pink variety
- Armeria arctica – arctic armeria – under natural conditions, a perennial up to 20 cm with flowers up to 2.5 cm in diameter. Having come to the attention of breeders and flower growers, this species manifests itself as a biennial.
- Armeria welwitschii – Armeria Velvich – Armeria of Spanish origin, blooming until the first frost.
- Armeria alliacea – bulbous armeria – one of the highest species, up to half a meter, blooms in the first half of summer. Named bulbous because of its resemblance to allium, an ornamental onion crowned with a globular inflorescence.
- Armeria pungens – prickly armeria – a dense pillow of several dozen compact rosettes of a bluish-gray hue, pink flowers.
- Armeria sibirica – Siberian armeria – grows in the mountainous regions of Mongolia and Siberia. Peduncles not higher than 30 cm, flowers are pinkish, small, blooms in June-August. Differs in special frost resistance.
- Armeria Zunderman is a very interesting hybrid of soddy and seaside armeria.
Diseases and pests of armeria
Being extremely unpretentious, armeria does not cause much trouble to the gardener. However, there are some potential problems to be aware of.
It has already been said that armeria does not tolerate alkali in the soil . If, nevertheless, the soil was not acidic enough, the plant may become ill with spotting. In this case, it is necessary to cut the plant, and acidify the soil.
Stagnation of moisture, too abundant watering , poor drainage can cause root rot. You can deal with the problem as follows: dig a bush, remove parts of the root affected by the disease, transplant the plant to another place in compliance with all necessary conditions.
attacked the bush (this is the only pest that can encroach on the flowers of this family), then sprinkling the plant with tobacco dust or spraying tomato leaves with infusion will help.
Wherever armeria takes its place: in a crevice between the stones of an alpine hill or in a mixborder, along a garden path or on a sunny lawn, it will become a worthy element of any flower garden and will delight with dense greenery and bright flowers all summer.