Do you buy perennials or grow them from seed? My Mum was a remarkably thrifty – and patient gardener and grew many perennials such as delphiniums from seed. The first year they would get to be respectable sized plants but if they flowered it wasn't a spectacular show. They would typically take three years to get to that chocolate box image of towering spires of lavender, pink and blue blooms. That was enough to put me off – three years seemed much too long to wait!
So when I was given seeds for the perennial blanket flower (Gaillardia) from international plant breeder Benary I was initially rather underwhelmed. Their saving grace was that these perennials are drought tolerant and deer resistant and the bold colors would work with my color scheme so I decided to give them a go. I started the seeds indoors under grow lights in February of this year and by early spring they were large enough to prick out into individual 4" plants. (My Stumpdust dibber was the perfect tool for transplanting).
I really wasn't expecting them to do much this year so used the sturdy 4" plants to edge a raised bed of basil in my vegetable garden, planting both out at the beginning of June.
Wow did they GROW! Each plant quickly formed a compact mound at least 12" wide and bloomed in such profusion that they became a colorful highlight in the garden just six months after starting them from seed. In fact the plants are so big I may be able to divide them next spring.
If you prefer to grow the native blanketflowers looks for common blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata) which is a perennial that attracts native bees as well as butterflies. You can buy that wildflower seed here. Alternatively the annual, native Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) may self-seed in ideal conditions. Available here
Use in a drought tolerant border with lavender, sage and succulents. Perfect either in your landscape or even for a parking strip
Use in containers – they bloom for months without a break! Although I did deadhead spent blooms during the peak summer period, the seed heads themselves are attractive. These newer varieties lend themselves well to mixed containers, being more compact thus 'hiding' the foliage with flowers.
- Hardy in zones 3-8
- Full sun
- Water; average-low. Drought tolerant once established
- Soil; well drained soil is essential. Sandy or average loam is ideal. Avoid non-amended clay.
- Deer resistant (and said to be rabbit resistant – I'll let you know!!)