Gaillardia: Direct Sow or Potted Plant Perennial
How to Sow and Plant
Gaillardia may be grown from seed sown early indoors and transplanted outside after frost, or sown directly in the garden in summer, or planted as a potted plant.
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Direct sow in full sun in poor but well-drained soil after danger of frost.
- Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth.
- Sow seeds evenly and thinly and cover with ¼ inch of fine soil.
- Firm lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 7-14 days depending on soil and weather conditions.
- Thin to stand about 15 inches apart when large enough to handle.
Planting Potted Plants:
- Choose a location in full sun with poor but well-drained soil.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
- Plant on a cloudy day or in late afternoon to reduce transplant shock.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Unpot the plant and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root growth.
- Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
- Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their germination.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For perennials, an organic mulch of aged bark or shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Careful watering is essential in getting perennials off to a good start. Water thoroughly at least once a week to help new roots grow down deeply. Soil should be damp at about 1 inch below the soil surface. You can check this by sticking your finger in the soil. Water early in the morning to give all leaves enough time to dry. One inch of rain or watering per week is recommended for most perennial plants. You can check to see if you need to add water by using a rain gauge. Gaillardia is drought-tolerant once it is established.
- Until plants become established, some protection from extreme winds and direct, hot sunlight may be necessary. Good air movement is also important.
- Deadhead plants for continuous bloom.
- Divide the plants every 2 or 3 years in spring or fall.
- Plants prefer poor soils, be careful to not overfertilize.
- Many gardeners do not cut back perennial flower seed heads in the fall, but wait until early spring before the new foliage appears. This provides food for wildlife over the winter.
- Gaillardia is excellent for the middle of the border, in the cottage garden and for naturalizing in a wildflower meadow. They are quite striking when planted en masse.
- Gaillardia makes a fine cut flower.
Common Disease Problems
Aster Yellows: Plants are stunted, develop witch's brooms (excessive growth), petals turn green and become deformed. This virus-like condition is spread by leafhoppers. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants and control leafhoppers. Remove weeds in the area which serve as alternate hosts to the disease.
Bacterial Leaf Spot: Areas between the leaf veins turn dark brown and collapse. The entire plant may be killed. The disease may also affect and disfigure flower heads. Burpee Recommends: Remove and destroy infected plants. Avoid overhead watering. Do not work around plants when they are wet.
Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots of seedlings as well as mature roots. Burpee Recommends: Pull up and discard infected plants. Avoid overwatering and do not mound mulch against the plants.
Septoria Leaf Spot: This is most severe during rainy seasons in closely planted gardens. Tan spots with tiny dark brown to black dot-like fungal fruiting structures appear on the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Remove and destroy infected plant debris. Don't handle or brush against plants when they are wet. Do not overhead water.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Leafhoppers: Leafhoppers cause injury to leaves and stunt growth. They also spread disease. Burpee Recommends: Remove plant debris. Use insecticidal soaps. Consult your Cooperative Extension Service for other insecticide recommendations.
Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
Can I grow gaillardia in a container? Yes gaillardia is fine for containers. Make sure you have excellent drainage and use a commercial potting mix.
Is gaillardia deer resistant? Yes, gaillardia can be deer resistant.
Is gaillardia a good pollinator plant? Yes, it attracts butterflies and bees.
Why did my gaillardia not bloom? Gaillardia will bloom the second year from seed so if you just sowed this year it will not bloom until next year. Also, gaillardia needs at least six hours of sun daily, and is sensitive to rich soils or fertilization. If the plant is growing lushly in full sun, be sure not to over fertilize.
Why should I grow gaillardia? Gaillardia is a very easy plant to grow if you have the proper conditions (full sun and well-drained soil), it attracts pollinators, it blooms for a long season, it makes great cut flowers, there are a variety of bright cheerful colors and it is very low maintenance.