How to Grow Acantholimon Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Prickly Thrift

The common name for the hardy perennial Acantholimon is Prickly thrift and they look great growing in rock-gardens.

It is important to grow the Acantholimon plant in dry conditions and it typically flowers from July to August.

Acantholimon androsaceum
Acantholimon androsaceum picture by Bdk, CC

Description of Acantholimon

Prickly thrift plants are normally evergreen, have many star shaped flowers, and needle-like prickly leaves.

It is native to the dryer and desert areas of Europe, South America, and central Asia.

In the Garden it is best suited for rockeries, or for growing in wall crevices.

Plants have a cushion and mat-forming habit

Common Acantholimon Plant Photographs

Latin names of some of the more common species that I have no photographs for include Acantholimon androsaceum; acantholimon acerosum; acantholimon puberulum; and acantholimon armenum

Acantholimon ulicinum

Acantholimon ulicinum

Acantholimon ulicinum (Gorse Prickly Thrift) photograph by Ghislain118.

Acantholimon venustum

Acantholimon venustum

Acantholimon venustum (Beautiful prickly thrift) by Biodiversity Heritage Library, CC.

Acantholimon glumaceum

Acantholimon glumaceum
Lithograph of Acantholimon glumaceum, CC.

Acantholimon olivieri

Acantholimon olivieri photograph by col&tasha, Creative Commons.

Of all these alpine species, few can be reliably grown. They will require a vertical wall or crevice that faces South or West. Acantholimon glumaceum and Acantholimon venustum should be the easiest to grow.

How to Grow Acantholimon Plants (Prickly Thrift Species)

As Acantholimon is a very difficult garden plant to germinate from seed it is recommended that seedlings be purchased from garden centers or nurseries.

Plant purchased plants about 8 to 12 cm (3 to 5 inches) apart in wall gaps. This can be done either after the last spring frost or in the Autumn.

Caring for Prickly thrift and other Acantholimon Plants in the Garden

Acantholimon Care: Prickly thrift plants prefers= strong light. They should be grown in sunny conditions in an alkaline soil that is gritty or sandy.

The plants grow very slowly and should be supplied with winter mulch.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Name (s): Prickly Thrift, Gorse prickly thrift
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 4 to 8 / H7 (Hardy to at least —20°C (-4°F).
  • Best used for: Stony slopes, Walls, Crevices. Alpine Garden.

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Alpine evergreen subshrub.
  • Plant Height: 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm).
  • Plant Spread: Mat-forming. 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm).
  • Blooms: Early summer.
  • Flower Details: Showy. Funnel. Five petals. White, pink.
  • Leaf Foliage: Leaves are Prickly and hard. Linear. Tufted shoots. Branched stems.

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight
  • Suitable Soil Types: Sand, grit, Limestone soils.
  • Soil Soil Moisture: Vertical (or vet steep) drainage required. Dry to medium moisture.
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Take semi-ripe cuttings in late summer. Or sow seeds in the spring.
  • Care: Once seedlings have been transplanted into a wall, leave them be. Provide shelter. Protect from wet conditions in the winter.

Further Information

Common Questions

How many members does the Acantholimon genus have?

The Acantholimon genus has around 120 species. These plants are evergreen perennials or subshrubs, belonging to the Plumbaginaceae family.

Do members of Acantholimon make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Acantholimon plants are excellent for rock gardens, slopes, and borders, offering interesting foliage and small, spiky flowers.

Which Acantholimon species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Acantholimon glumaceum (Cheddar Pink) is commonly grown for its dense cushion of spiny blue-green leaves and pink flowers.

Are members of the Acantholimon plant genus fragrant?

No, Acantholimon plants are not typically known for their fragrance. Their appeal lies in their ornamental foliage and flowers.

What is the perfect location to grow Acantholimon?

Acantholimon plants prefer full sun and well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. They are very drought-tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping.

Is Acantholimon invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Acantholimon is not presently considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Acantholimon plants from my garden?

If you need to remove Acantholimon plants, carefully dig up the plant making sure to get the entire root system. Dispose of the plant properly to prevent spreading.


The Acantholimon genus, part of the Plumbaginaceae family, contains about 120 species of evergreen perennial plants. Native to the mountainous regions of central and western Asia, these plants, commonly known as prickly thrift, are well-suited to alpine and rock gardens due to their cushion-forming growth habit and spiny leaves.

Acantholimon plants prefer full sun and well-drained, gritty soil. They are extremely drought-tolerant and can handle poor soil conditions, making them an excellent choice for xeriscaping. The pink or purple flowers that appear in summer provide a beautiful contrast against their prickly, grey-green leaves.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow the Acantholimon Plant. You may also enjoy the following bulb growing guides:

How to grow Narcissus plants and Tulips.