Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
When it comes time to choosing plants for your cutting garden, you’ll never go wrong when you choose All-America Selections winners. For 2005, several flowers received top honors. Of these, the Arizona Sun blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) and Magellan Coral zinnia are wonderful cut flowers. They deserve a place in the cutting garden.
Because Arizona Sun blooms the first year from seed, it can be treated as an annual. Yet, it should survive over the winter in many locations as a perennial. It is hardy in USDA zones 2-8. It is also quite tolerant of heat, and is recommended for AHS heat zones 12-1.
Whether you choose Arizona Sun for its vibrant blossoms, or the fact that it’s so easy to grow, you’ll be very pleased with this cut flower. As a matter of fact, this also received the Fleuroselect award. Fleuroselect is a European flower organization that runs trials for new flowers, and gives awards to outstanding varieties
Floral designers will also like the fact that Arizona Sun blanket flower is very early to bloom, and it continues through the fall. So, you’ll be able to harvest lots of stems. The colors of the blooms have been described as that of the desert sun-mahogany red with yellow around the edges. The abundant blooms are three to four inches wide.
Arizona Sun blanket flower has a compact, mounding habit, only a foot in height with an equal spread. So, they shouldn’t take up a lot of space in the cutting garden.
These plants require little attention. It’s needs for fertilizer is minimal. Once it is established, it is drought tolerant.
Seeds of Arizona Sun blanket flower should be available from retail stores, online, and mail-order catalogs in 2005. Local garden centers and nurseries should also have plants for sale in the spring as well.
For earlier blooms, the seeds can be started indoors or in a greenhouse about 2 to 3 months before the expected last frost date. When planting the seeds, avoid covering them. They need light in order to geminate. The germination process can take about 2 to 3 weeks.
Like other blanket flowers, the stems of Arizona Sun should have a vase life of about a week or so. For designs, they are often used to provide mass in bouquets.
For the cutting garden in 2005,Arizona Sun blanket flower is a true winner.