Whether you are an experienced gardener or not, Gaillardia plants are the missing piece from your beloved plant family. These flowers have a way to win your heart from the very first eye contact, but they are more than beautiful ornamental plants! Keep reading and you will see for yourself!
Gaillardia is a genus that contains between 25 and 30 stunning species of annual, biennial, and perennial flowering plants. These flowers are growing in a wide range of habitats, such as grasslands, valleys, open prairies, montane areas, meadows, or dry plains. They are native to numerous regions of South and North America.
Commonly known in cultivation as ‘Blanket Flowers’, these plants are pretty popular ornamentals in both outdoor and indoor settings. Once established, they are usually carefree plants that can tolerate short periods of drought and have few pest or disease problems.
Gaillardias bloom profusely and are wonderful additions to every garden, big or small. These flowers will bring a warm dash of colour to cottage gardens, cutting gardens, rocky or sandy gardens, butterfly gardens, and perennial borders. Moreover, they look absolutely gorgeous in pots and taller varieties can make for great cut flowers.
- The most spectacular cultivars of Gaillardia plants include G. ‘Arizona Sun’, G. ‘Burgundy’, G. ‘Fanfare’, G. ‘Goblin’, G. ‘Mesa Yellow’, G. ‘Sun Devil’, and G. ‘Sunset Popsy’.
- Gaillardia species play a big part in the lives of other beings. They serve as a food source for the caterpillars of different Lepidoptera species like bina flower moth, blanket flower moth, or painted schinia moth.
- Not only us, humans, appreciate their colourful and hypnotic flowers. They are also highly attractive to various species of small birds and butterflies.
- Texas State University has two school colours: old gold and maroon. This combination of colours was inspired by Gaillardia blooms.
- In traditional medicine, many folks used parts of Gaillardia plants as a treatment for various health problems including sore eyes, gastroenteritis, and skin disorders. They also have antirheumatic and diuretic properties.
- Their seeds are edible. Some people ground the dried seeds into a powder, knead them to obtain a tasty butter, and eat it spread it on bread.
- These plants prefer warm to hot climates where they require minimal care to thrive. In regions with cooler conditions, the over-wintering plants will benefit from some protection with a thick layer of mulch on the soil.
- Blanket flowers are excellent companions to other species of plants, such as Blue Oat Grass, Creeping Thyme, Lavender, Gayfeather, Montbretia, Red Hot Poker, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Siberian Iris, Tall Verbena, or Yellow Loosestrife.
Gaillardia Features: An Overview
- Gaillardia plants belong to the Asteraceae family. They share some common features with other species from this family including daisies, sunflowers, and asters.
- They are herbaceous subshrubs that can reach from 12 to 35 inches (31-90 cm) in height and up to 35 inches (90 cm) in width. Sometimes, these plants have rhizomes.
- The foliage of Blanket flowers is dense and comes in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Their grey-green leaves grow alternately arranged on long, branching, and erect stems.
- Gaillardia plants bloom multiple times each year from summer through fall. During this period, they show up many inflorescences with a solitary flower head.
- Some of their flowers can lack ray florets, but they usually present 15 or more. The centre of the flower’s head consists of numerous tubular and hairy disc florets that exhibit a similar range of tints to the petals.
- Sometimes, the blossoms can appear rolled into a funnel shape. They measure between 3 and 4 inches (7.6-10 cm) in diameter when open. They fill up the foliage with various shades and mixes of red, yellow, orange, pink, purplish, brown, and white.
- Once their flowering period has come to an end, Gaillardia plants produce fruits where the blooms were. The fruit is a hairy achene or spiky pappus that comes packed with seeds.
If you want to give your Gaillardia plants the time of their life, make sure you are growing them in lots of bright and direct light. Of course, these flowers can also tolerate some partial shade, especially in hot and dry climates. Still, they will grow somehow floppy and will not bloom the same in these conditions. For optimal results, keep your plants in a location where they can receive at least six hours of full sunlight daily.
In general, Blanket flowers thrive in regions that mimic their native habitat. Thus, they perform best in hot, dry climates and can withstand extreme summer temperatures. These plants do not need high levels of humidity and require some protection during the cooler months. In areas with harsh winters, it is wise to grow your plants in pots and bring them inside in autumn.
Although Gaillardia species are typically pest and disease-free, some issues like aster yellows can occur in improper growing conditions. This virus-like disease will show its presence by turning the flowers green and impede the overall growth of your plants. Usually, aphids and leaf-hoppers are those pests that spread aster yellows on the plants.
In case of infection, you must destroy the unhealthy plants to prevent any future spread. Natural predators like ladybugs can help you keep your Blanket flowers in check. If you cannot encourage them to appear, spray your plants regularly with insecticidal soap to get rid of the problematic pests.
Gaillardia plants grow at their best in slightly acidic soils with a pH range of 6.1 to 6.5. They are susceptible to root rot, so you should plant them in a substrate that has excellent drainage. These flowers can do well in somewhat damp mediums, but heavy clay soils are most likely to kill them. If you want to keep them indoors, look for pots that have drainage holes at the bottom to avoid waterlogging.
It seems that Blanket flowers perform better in poor soils in general. Due to this fact, they do not require any extra fertilizing to grow healthy and happy. Yet, these plants can sometimes grow slower and produce fewer blossoms than usual. If you notice any of these signs, you can provide your plants with a balanced fertilizer once every year in spring.
we know, Gaillardia plants do already look fabulous without additional pampering. But we come along with top-secret information! Your plants will improve their overall appearance in the next spring if you cut their stems back after their flowers fade. Also, they will bloom for a longer time if you remove the damaged or spent flowers right away.
In their natural habitat, Gaillardia plants usually have a nice time without too much water around their feet. And they will also demand these environmental conditions from their owners! Right after planting your beauties, provide them with water once every day until they start to produce flowers. Their healthy blooming is a common sign that your plants have settled in.
Once established, Blanket flowers can tolerate periods of drought pretty well. Keep in mind that is always better to water your plants less than over-watering them. Still, the frequency of watering may vary based on the season and climate.
Unless you live in a region with hot and dry summers, Gaillardia plants can do just fine without supplemental irrigation. During the winter, you can skip watering for good or just give them a pinch of water when the soil seems too dry. To avoid soggy conditions or waterlogging all year round, make sure you water your plants only when the soil has dried out entirely.
Although you can already find seeds of many Gaillardia varieties in markets or nurseries, where would be the fun in that? Sometimes, these plants will not grow true from seed, especially when it comes to hybrid species like Gaillardia × Grandiflora. If you want to start these plants from seed, however, sow them in late summer and protect them during the winter months.
Of course, this process is as simple as it seems and, maybe, you will be among the lucky gardeners if germination occurs. For guaranteed results, it is better to propagate your Blanket flowers through division. These plants are usually short-lived and will not mind a little extra help to keep them going.
No worries, this method will not demand too much effort on your part! All you have to do is dig your babies out of the soil and use a sharp knife to divide their roots into more pieces. After this process, you can transplant the tiny Gaillardia plants absolutely anywhere you want to.
In general, Blanket flowers will benefit from regular sessions of propagation in spring. You must divide your plants once every two or three years, but they will not mind if you are doing this more often. And if the space around your house is not enough, plant them in pots and surprise your beloved ones with a lovely gift!
There is no doubt that Gaillardia plants are among the most splendid flowers out there! They have an easy-going nature and don’t need much to thrive and to produce colourful flowers.
Are you growing Blanket Flowers in your garden? Share your experience in the comments below!