September 2019 plant of the month series for Boulder Colorado area landscapes
September, 2019: Gaillardia
Gaillardia, commonly known as Blanket flower is a xeric or low water perennial flower that grows well here in our Boulder Colorado landscapes. It is offered in a variety of colors, but it is mostly the orange, yellow and red combinations that are most striking. The leaves form a compact clump, ranging in height from about 8” for the Dwarf varieties up to about 24” for the standard varieties.
Gaillardia is in the Sunflower family and is native to North and South America. The name Blanket Flower may relate to the ornate colors of blankets made by the Native Americans and the flower’s resemblance to those patterned color combinations. It is extremely drought tolerant once established, but the plant and flowers will remain small and sparse if left to natural moisture. It will thrive in rock gardens, finding moisture tucked under the larger rocks. If irrigated lightly, it will flower and leaf out more profusely. Over irrigation, or excessive mulching may result in root rot and dieback. Rock mulch is better for Gaillardia as it thrives on the heat and drier conditions.
One favorite is ‘Oranges and Lemons’ with its bright yellow flowers, sometimes turning orange, but remaining a more monotone color versus most other cultivars which are strongly contrasted with yellow and red. It was discovered in 2002 as a chance seedling in a garden in England, with one parent flower unknown, and was cultivated from that seedling. All Gaillardia require full sun for best blooming.
Plant 10 in a mass planting in your landscape and watch the colors abound next summer. They are easy to plant and establish, and require little care or water. Deadhead in summer to promote blooms and don’t over water! Enjoy!
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