What is Gaillardia?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Gaillardia is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family. These plants are native to the Americas and can be found very widely distributed, thanks to their tolerance for a wide range of conditions, including harsh growing environments like the seashore. They are popular garden plants in some regions, with both seeds and seedlings available at nurseries, especially in the spring months.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Members of this genus can grow as annuals or perennials. They are low, herbaceous plants with colorful yellow and reddish to orange flowers. Physically, they resemble daisies or small sunflowers. Typically Gaillardia species grow in low mounds and they reseed readily in addition to spreading through shoots and runners. They are very easy to propagate and make excellent cut flowers in addition to visually pleasing additions to the garden.

These plants can grow in United States Department of Agriculture zones five through 10. They are drought tolerant and prefer full sun, although they can also grow in partial shade. Well-drained soil is recommended, although it does not need to be particularly rich. These plants are tolerant of a wide variety of environments and they resist pests and fungal infections. To keep Gaillardia blooming, deadheading the plants is recommended.

Plantings can tend to develop a leggy, slightly wild appearance as the branching and wiry stems start to sprawl. Pinching growth back can help the plant retain a neat appearance and even shape. Gaillardia is suitable for massed plantings, borders, edges, and background plantings and pairs especially well with other rugged wildflowers. Numerous cultivars are available, including plants with unusual color patterns for more visual interest.

People interested in growing a Gaillardia species can talk to other gardeners about the possibility of obtaining seeds or divisions. Many gardeners are happy to share, as they will be collecting seeds or dividing their plants anyway. If trades or sales with gardeners are not available, a nursery or mail order catalog can be used. Seeds should be started indoors during the spring to give them a chance to develop being planted in the garden.

Some cultivars are more or less hardy than others, and may have specialized growing requirements. If people are not sure about how to cultivate a particular specimen, they can ask for guidance at a nursery or botanical garden. Gardening guides, whether books on gardening, magazines, or websites, can also provide information about specific plants people are interested in growing.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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