How to grow Gaillardia
Commemorating M. Gaillard de Marentonneau, a French patron of botany (Compositae). Blanket flower. A small genus of annuals and perennials, natives of America, with a long flowering period, useful for cut flowers. Somewhat untidy in habit, the long stalks fall about in wind and rain. Gaillardias need some twiggy stakes to help to keep the flowers clean and in full view.
Annual species cultivated G. amblyodon, 2-3 feet, maroon-red flowers, autumn. G. pulchella, 2-3 feet, crimson and yellow flowers, late summer and autumn, best treated as a half-hardy annual; vars. brenziana, double flowers in reds and yellows ; picta, larger flower-heads. `Indian Chief’ with coppery-scarlet flowers is a named cultivar. In addition seedsmen usually offer mixed annual types under such names as ‘Choice Double Mixed’, `Special Mixture’, and ‘Double Fireball’.
Perennial species cultivated All garden varieties originate from G. aristata (syn. G. grandiflora) and comprise a great range of colour from pale primrose-yellow to crimson and bold orange, all flowering from June to October. Named cultivars include ‘Burgundy’, 2 feet, rich wine red with a narrow yellow frill along the outer edges of the petals; ‘Copper Beauty’, 2 feet, smaller flowers of orange-yellow suffused with brown; ‘Dazzler’, 2 feet, yellow with brown-red central zone; ‘Fire-bird’, 2 feet, a vigorous variety with flame-orange flowers; ‘Goblin’, 1 foot, dwarf, yellow with red zone; `Ipswich Beauty’, 21-3 feet, large deep yellow flowers touched with reddish-brown ; `Monarch Strain’, 21 feet, mixed colours; ‘Nana Nieski’, 1-11 feet, red and yellow flowers on shorter stems; `The Prince’, 21 feet, very large flowers up to 4 inches across, deep yellow tinged reddish-brown at the centre; `Tokaj’, 2 feet, wine-red and tangerine; `Wirral Flame’, 21 feet, a strong growing variety, tangerine flowers tipped yellow; `Yellow Queen’, 2 feet, golden-yellow.
Cultivation A sunny border in a moderately light soil is ideal and the drainage should be good. The annual kinds are raised from seed sown in March in gentle heat and gradually hardened off and planted in the border in late May to flower for the remainder of the season.
Twiggy stakes are needed for good effects, and bold planting repays in garden decoration. The perennial kinds prefer drier soils. Autumn and winter damp is their enemy, and if they do not survive, it is probably because of dampness. On the other hand, a sun-baked soil stunts the plants, so a mulch of leaf-mould or decayed manure in summer is helpful. Liquid feeds can be given to good advantage when the plants are coming into flower. Named varieties are best propagated from root cuttings taken at any time between February and April and put in a sandy box in the frame orAgreenhouse. Those that are taken early and do well may flower the first year. Alternatively basal cuttings taken from August to October, put into a sandy compost in a cold frame or under a cloche will soon get away. The plants can be divided in either October or March and any roots left in the ground at this time will sprout again.