First year flowering perennials: gorgeous gaillardias

November 24th, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Gaillardia 'Firewheels'

In hot and sunny summers, gaillardias are amongst the most colourful flowers you can grow but on the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground, this summer, they looked good even after a downpour. And they flowered prolifically in their first summer from a March sowing.

‘Sundance Red’ (below) was outstanding. My notes say: “Tight and compact. More or less self-supporting. Double flowers strawberry scarlet with faint orange flashes, fluted and flared, very prolific even after rain.” Well worth growing, but short at about 30cm.

Gaillardia 'Sundance Red'Also excellent was ‘Firewheels’ (above), a taller single flowered variety reaching about 60cm and so much for suitable for cutting.

I also liked the two of the three varieties in the Arizona Series that were trialled this summer (the third was mysteriously omitted). I’ve been noticing ‘Arizona Apricot’ and the red-and-yellow bicolour ‘Arizona Sun’ since they were first introduced ten years ago. These are short, too, but I found this summer in my own trial garden that they produce so many stems that cutting some with a few embryonic buds below the opening flowers doesn’t seem to ruin the display.

‘Goblin’ is similar to ‘Arizona Sun’, but taller at 45cm and the red colouring is perhaps a little less vivid.

All need full sun, and are best in well-drained soil. In heavy clay the crowns stay too wet in winter and shoots not may emerge in spring.

For the house, cut gaillardias just as the flowers have opened; they should last at least a week, longer if you use flower food and change the water every day.

If you’ve not grown gaillardias before, give them a go.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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