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The Blanket Flower
Gaillardia, also called the blanket flower, is considered a most useful and attractive plant for the landscape.
Sometimes known as Indian blanket, it is well suited for planting in rock gardens, border plantings, containers, and flower beds. This quick growing, long blooming flower is rarely subject to insect or disease problems.
Well suited to coastal plantings, it tolerates salty air quite well.
The variously colored flowers last for several weeks. These can be used as cut flowers.
Butterflies enjoy the nectar, and visit the flowers on a continuing basis once blooming begins.
Some varieties of Gaillardia are especially floriferous with a dozen or more blooms at a time. Blooming continues for three or four months when the plants receive optimal care.
The ball-shaped, daisy-like flowers come in a range of colors, including orange, maroon, white, bronze, red, and others. Typically, they will be multi-colored. These are borne on long stems.
Depending on the variety, Gaillardia can be either annual or perennials. As the latter, they bloom the first year from seed. In some areas, they tend to have shorter life spans than some other perennials.
Gaillardia prefers a sunny spot in well drained soils. Though they will grow in heavy clay, they really do better in sandy soils. If your soil is heavy, try growing them in raised beds. These plants will tolerate drought and high temperatures, making them suitable for areas with hot summers.
To keep the plants blooming longer, cut the old blossoms as they fade.
The plants are usually propagated by seeds. If youíre growing them as annuals, it would be best to start them indoors about four to six weeks before the last expected frost date. By doing so, they will definitely bloom the very first year.
The origin of Gaillardia isnít too clear. Some say they apparently originated in Central and South America. Others report that they are native to parts of the Caribbean.
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