A Plant I Couldn't Resist ('Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia)

There was one plant that I knew I would purchase the second I saw it 'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia. I found one last year on a discount rack and rescued it from an unknown fate. 'Oranges and Lemons' quickly became one of my favorite plants in the garden. It bloomed forever and had some really attractive seed heads shaped like globes that I left in place since they looked neat. Unfortunately mine didn't make it through the winter. It was located in a spot on the northern side of our house that gets plenty of sunlight during the summer months but the problem was the wet winter months. During the winter it is rare to see the sun on that side of the house and consequently everything stays wet, soggy, soaked, and completely saturated with water. I suspect that this drought tolerant, sun loving perennial wasn't too happy over the winter with wet feet and shade.

So this year when I found my gaillardia I quickly snatched up two of them bought them and planted them...on the south side. They were long and leggy and quickly wilted in the hot sun. This was because the stems and leaves had outgrown what the roots in the small pot could sustain adequately. I did what any gardener should do in this circumstance - decapitation! I trimmed the leggy perennials about halfway down the stems and the result was no more wilting. A little pruning will also stimulate more foliar growth to make a bushier plant. Often with plants that have been on the shelf a while you have to find the balance point between roots and foliage. Small root systems just can't keep a full grown plant growing. Pretty soon the long and leggy gaillardia will become like the bushy and beautiful blanketflower from last summer!

'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia September 2008

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