Let’s go with gaillardias

July 19th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Gaillardia 'Arizona Red Shades'

My gaillardias have been flowering for a few weeks, now, so what makes me think that this is a good time to sow gaillardia seed?

Well, modern varieties are very different from the old and straggly types. I’ve been growing those, too, but I’m heaving them out this autumn. ‘Amber Wave’ is a recent variety in the old style and is not only very floppy, but in a couple of years the roots have run so much that shoots are coming up in the path. Not for long.

Modern gaillardias, the Arizona Series in particular, are shorter, bushier, don’t need support, don’t run at the root and come with enthusiastically upward facing daisies. Flowering starts in June or July and continues into the autumn, especially if the plants are deadheaded regularly.

There are three varieties in the Arizona Series: ‘Arizona Apricot’, ‘Arizona Sun’ (a red and yellow bicolour) and ‘Arizona Red Shades’. All are prolific plants for sun and soil that’s not too soggy. And you can sow seed now.

The trick is to raise the seedlings just as if you were sowing in spring: sow the seeds in a 9cm pot, prick the seedlings out into large cells or 7cm pots, grow them on until they’re big enough to plant, get them in and they’ll establish themselves before the winter.

At this time of year the seeds don’t need heat, they don’t even need a cold greenhouse. Simply cover the pots with a clear propagating hood, keep them out of the sun in case they get too hot, and make sure they don’t dry out.

I’ve seen them start to flower in May, they’ll certainly get started in June and if you dead head regularly they’ll just keep on going.

And if you just can’t be bothered with all that, as I write Mr F still has plants of ‘Arizona Apricot’ in 9cm pots and ‘Arizona Apricot’ in 2 litre pots available for planting now. Either way, give them a try.

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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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