If there is one plant I intend to keep in my garden every year it would be a gaillardia and more specifically 'Oranges and Lemons'. 'Oranges and Lemons' gaillardia (blanket flower) is a prolific bloomer that gives a bright and sunny look to the perennial plantings from summer through fall (zones 5-9). Even after the blooms have faded the seed heads still provide for some fall and early winter interest.
Last year I had a really nice gaillardia in the front garden but unfortunately it didn't make it. After analyzing the location I suspect that its demise was caused by a wet winter combined with a poor location. (It was planted on the northern side of our house.) No sun and too much moisture means dead plant. Good drainage is a must, after all it is very drought tolerant once established.
If you try to raise 'Oranges and Lemons' from seed you will find a surprise waiting for you. 'Oranges and Lemons' is a hybrid and will not come true from seed. Instead you will find a gaillardia of another color and size but don't let that discourage you from planting the seeds. Sometimes new variants from hybrids are worth keeping! The gaillardia that died self sowed in our front garden revealing this red colored version in its place. The bloom is fairly large and bears a resemblance to Gaillardia x grandiflora which is probably one of the cultivars used to breed 'Oranges and Lemons'. Perhaps I'll try to back cross my surprise gaillardia with my 'Oranges and Lemons' just to see what happens.
Right now I have two 'Oranges and Lemons' planted, one in the birdbath garden and another one alongside our deck. The one next to our deck is paired with a moonflower and caryopteris. Next to, underneath, and all around the gaillardia is some spearmint which we use in our iced tea.
Gaillardia can be propagated through stem cuttings fairly easily and is how more 'Oranges and Lemons' are made for cultivation. Unfortunately 'Oranges and Lemons' is a patented variety and propagation should not be done (without a license) but if you have a non-patented variety stem cuttings can easily make many more for you!
Here's how to propagate gaillardia:
- Select a piece if the stem with one to two nodes
- Treat with rooting hormone
- Stick in moist rooting media
- Keep moist for up to 3-4 weeks.
- Pot up when rooted
Gaillardia is an easy grower that could find a place in every garden!