Plant of the week: Gaillardia
Blanket flowers reward with bright daisies throughout summer
The blanket flower, or gaillardia, is one of those perennials that loves to please. Once established, this valuable garden asset will produce a succession of cheerful daisies in warm yellow, apricot or zingy red tones from early summer into autumn.
These fast growing, eyecatching plants come from the prairie regions of northern USA and southern Canada. They like moist, but well-drained conditions in full sun, but will tolerate drier conditions once established. They’re generally short-lived, two to three years in the case of G. aristata or annuals, such as G. pulchella. A hybrid between the two, G. grandiflora, which is a short-lived perennial, forms the basis of the 25 or so varieties found in gardens. You can encourage the more perennial varieties to survive winter by removing spent flowers in late summer. Avoiding wet or over-rich soil, or shaded positions will also help. Taller forms are prone to flop when in flower, so growing them in more spartan conditions will keep them more compact. They’re useful for filling gaps or planting in clumps with other summer perennials, such as monarda, helenium or anthemis.
Gaillardia is easily grown from seed, even the perennial types quickly form plants that are highly likely to flower the same year if sown early enough, or the following year if sown later. They can also be bought as plugs
or established plants, when they can be planted at any time.