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The Blanket Flower

Contributed by Wendy Richard-Mount

Gallardia's, also known as blanket flowers, are brightly-colored, sun-loving, first-year flowering perennials that are easy to grow. They are heat and drought tolerant, and rabbit and deer resistant.

Blanket flower is a perennial with a long season of bloom. The daisy-like flowers are produced from early summer to early fall in shades of orange, red and yellow, adding pizazz to the garden and attracting nectar-seeking butterflies.

There is also an annual blanket flower called Gaillardia pulchella that is easy to grow from seed. Start seeds early indoors four to six weeks before the last spring frost, and then transplant to the garden when the weather has warmed. In warmer winter areas, sow seeds directly in late fall or very early spring.

Varieties are available with single, double, and semi-double flowers.

The blossoms of blanket flowers have petals that may be solid-colored shades of yellow, wine red, orange, or peach, or may be banded in combinations of red or orange with yellow. The petals of some are frilled, while others are tubular-shaped. Sizes range from 10-12 inch high dwarfs to selections as tall as 24-30 inches.

All are easy-care plants with few insect or disease problems, and most are hardy in zones 3-9. Nova Scotia is considered to be Zone 5.

The blanket flower is a plant that thrives despite neglect, and in sunny, dry, and rocky conditions. They naturally thrive in dry, porous soils and tend not to need extra watering. If a prolonged drought is in the forecast, it won’t hurt to water them, but again, they’re likely to survive everything but extreme drought conditions.

Don’t worry about prepping your beds for these flowers. Just toss them into that dry hillside where nothing else will grow, because they love these same conditions. Blanket flowers do well with echinacea, black-eyed Susans, salvia, sedum, herbs, and shrubs like juniper and heather. Some

varieties of heuchera are great options too.

This flower is a self-seeder, and plenty of seeds mean plenty of flowers. If you’re trying to keep things tidy, you’ll need to weed out volunteer flowers a few times a season.

The only possible challenge you’ll encounter is the eagerness of blanket flowers to spread beyond their original territory. Other than for that, this flower is a perfect choice for most gardeners.

Master Gardner Wendy Richard-Mount has been gardening and landscaping in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia for many years.

Wendy specializes in both residential and industrial design and maintenance.

She is also a photographer, writer and artist and creates art using elements found in nature.

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