Joystick Red Thrift
or Redball Seapinks
"Sea-thrift grows by the summer sea,
Till the summer's close,
On a grassy cliff, 'neath a radiant sky,
While sun and summer & wind go by,
Sea-thrift blows & blows."
The Joystick series of Armeria pseudarmeria (formerly A. cephalote or A. latifolia) come not only in 'Joystick Red Shades,' but also as Joystick White, Lilac Shades, & Pink Shades. This series is a shorter than the 'Formosa' Giant series of thrifts. 'Joystick' will send up flowers to one-foot height, much larger than other species of thrifts, but quite a bit shorter than 'Formosa' which is sixteen or eighteen inches tall. Both series have flowers up to golfball sized.
The basal leaves of both form a low tight clump. A. pseudameria is sometimes called Wide-leaf Thrift because the strappy foliage is not quite as narrowly turf-like as smaller thrifts.
'Joystick Red' can have two or three shades of red popping out of a single clump, & even an occasional purple. It seems only the white ones have predictable color.
Most armerias don't bloom until their second year if grown from seed, but Joystick blooms its first year, so that it is possible to grow it as an annual in zones too for it to perennialize. If sewn in January or February there'll be blooms for July & August. This means getting them started indoors in trays, & putting them out after the last threat of frost.
As an annual it is good for a wide range of zones, 3 through 9. In zones 7 & 8 it will perennialize, with its one to two inch spherical blooms present April to August, sometimes running earlier & later. They need full sun & perfect drainage to not rot out of the garden.
Periodic deadheading keeps it blooming. They make fine cut flowers, or dried flowers for winter arrangements.
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