Heat it up in the gar­den with daz­zling new blan­ket flow­ers

Merced Sun-Star - - Atwater Signal - BY NORMAN WIN­TER

In early June I had the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend the Young’s Plant Farm 2020 Trial Gar­den Tour, which is one of the most pres­ti­gious plant tri­als in the coun­try. Among the showiest flow­ers were two gail­lar­dias or blan­ket flow­ers that made their de­but this spring. Heat It Up Yel­low and Heat It Up Scar­let look to ful­fill that lust most gar­den­ers have for this flower.

As a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist who was born and raised in Texas, I can tell you The Gar­den Guy has a deep and pas­sion­ate love for the blan­ket flower, also known as firewheel, sun­dance and In­dian Blan­ket. Whether you are a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist or not, you too may have fallen for this mag­i­cal flower that is na­tive to 38 states.

Heat it Up Yel­low and Heat It Up Scar­let are hy­brid gail­lar­dias com­ing from Proven Win­ners. Those of us who love gail­lar­dias will ad­mit to lov­ing them all, Gail­lar­dia pul­chella that I was re­fer­ring to above and Gail­lar­dia aris­tata na­tive to the west and north­ern half of the coun­try all the way to New York. We love the hy­brids too. Deep down we wish we had a 12-month gail­lar­dia, not an­nual, not peren­nial, but eter­nal.

That’s not hap­pen­ing, but Heat It Up Yel­low and Heat It Up Scar­let have been win­ning awards that should catch ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion. Take the yel­low for in­stance: Per­fect Score Louisiana State Univer­sity, Per­fect Score All Sea­son Univer­sity of Ten­nessee, Per­fect Score Ore­gon State Univer­sity and the award that catches my eye, Leader of

the Pack Early Summer, Leader of the Pack Summer and Leader of the

Pack Late Summer, at the North Carolina State Univer­sity J.C. Raulston Ar­bore­tum. Those same awards went to Heat it Up Scar­let too; that’s what we re­ally want, a gail­lar­dia that blooms all summer.

When I was di­rec­tor of the Na­tional But­ter­fly Cen­ter in Mis­sion, Texas, we planted gail­lar­dias as part of a wild­flower refuge in the front of the visi­tor cen­ter. Sure, we did this for beau­ti­ful color, but we did this to bring in pol­li­na­tors. It will work just like that at your house too. Even though we’re in July, if you are for­tu­nate to find healthy trans­plants at your gar­den cen­ter, buy them and get them in the ground.

Heat it Up Yel­low and Heat it Up Scar­let may very well give you a spring re­turn in Zones 8 and warmer but you can’t beat the value when grow­ing them as an an­nual. The pol­li­na­tors will love you – well maybe it’s the flow­ers they’ll love most. Plant in full sun in fer­tile welldraine­d soil. This need not be lux­u­ri­ous soil, just not boggy. They will reach 24 inches tall with a spread of 36 inches, so plan on spac­ing 12 to 24 inches. You do not have to dead­head. Once the petals fall, you are left with a yel­low globe that al­most re­sem­bles a gom­phrena.

Like the dis­play Mother Na­ture gives you at the road­side or in mead­ows, it is the mass­ing that catches your eye. One here and one there will be no match for plant­ing a flat of these star per­form­ers. In the tri­als the Heat It Up Yel­low com­bined with Un­plugged So Blue salvia took our breath away.


Heat It Up Yel­low Blan­ket flower, Un­plugged So Blue salvia and Knock­out Rose cre­ate a col­or­ful three-part har­mony.


Heat It Up Scar­let blan­ket flower, or gail­lar­dia, will reach about 2 feet tall with a spread of close to 3 feet.

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