Also known as the blanket flower, gaillardia adds brilliant colour to a summer garden. The most popular variety features golden petals with bright eyes of reddish-orange, but not all gaillardias are variegated. These prolific bloomers may be solid red, yellow or orange and shades of violet. Available as both single and double blooms, gaillardias resemble daisies. Growing to heights of 2 feet or more, these annuals self-seed readily, leading many to think they are perennials.
Plant gaillardia seedlings in a prepared bed that receives direct sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours a day. Position the seedlings to the original planting depth, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. Fill in around the roots with soil and firm down to secure the plant.
Water thoroughly to saturate the soil to the depth of the roots. Young plants need adequate water to establish a strong root system. Keep soil moist until vigorous growth appears.
Reduce water to once a week when new grow appears and plants are established. This drought-tolerant plant often thrives with natural rainfall but may need supplemental water during dry spells.
Fertilise sparingly since these hardy plants tolerate low fertility. They may benefit from an application of water-soluble fertilise once established and again just before blooming.
Deadhead blooms as soon as they begin to fade by clipping them from the plant. This tricks the plant into thinking it has not produced enough flowers to reproduce and forces new blooms.
Remove all dead foliage in the fall once it is killed by a hard frost, if preferred. Some prefer to allow gaillardia to stand naturally throughout the winter, as it adds interest to the garden and provides seeds for birds.
Allow flowers to go to seed in late summer or early fall, so the plant can self-seed. Seeds germinate in the spring, creating new gaillardia plants.