Plant Picks – Blankets of Color
FIREWHEEL (Gaillardia pulchella)
Why We Love Them: A classic Texas wildflower, firewheels flourish in all corners of the state, from humid pine forests and arid roadsides to coastal prairies, Big Bend and beyond (well beyond, into 34 other states, in fact). A scrappy annual species, they’re even known to pop up in sidewalk cracks. That’s resourceful!
Preferred Garden Environment: Dry to mesic soils in sun to part shade; common in disturbed areas; prefers good drainage
Fun Fact: Some flowers are entirely yellow (perhaps a not-so-fun fact for those fond of flower identification).
Brings the Blooms: Look for brick red flowers fringed in yellow from May to August — or later with plentiful rain.
GREAT BLANKETFLOWER (Gaillardia aristata)
Why We Love It: Speaking of yellow Gaillardia species and tough IDs, this cheerful flower is a bit reminiscent of dandelions. We love its sunny color, brownish-orange disc flowers and fuzzy fruits (in fact, the entire plant is covered in fine hairs).
Preferred Garden Environment: Well-drained, moderately moist soil in sunny areas
Fauna Friends: Like most members of its genus, butterflies are drawn to its landing-
Bring the Blooms: July through September
WINKLER’S BLANKETFLOWER (Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri)
Why We Love It: Our ardor can be summed up in one word: lavender. Who knew blanketflowers came in this hue? Native to only 10 counties on Texas’ southeast side, this summer-blooming perennial also comes in white, not to mention a cultivar named ‘Grape Sensation’ that recalls bubblegum of the same color.
Preferred Garden Environment: Full sun and well-drained, sandy soil; drought and heat tolerant
Fauna Friends: This species supports bees, which are typically drawn to white, blue and yellow flowers.
Brings the Blooms: June through August, adding a cool, crisp color to hot days
PINCUSHION DIASY (Gaillardia suavis)
Why We Love It: It’s cute as a button — literally! Also known as rayless gaillardia, this species lacks ray flowers, or has them in short supply if they are present. With foliage only at the base (i.e., leafless stalks), pincushion daisy has the appearance of a colorful ball on a stick, making it unique in the garden and great for cut arrangements.
Preferred Garden Environment: Sandy or calcareous soils in full sun to part shade; medium water use
Smell Check: On a warm day, blooming pincushion daisies fill the air with a pleasant aroma, hence another common name: perfumeballs.
LANCELEAF BLANKETFLOWER (Gaillardia aestivalis var. aestivalis)
Why We Love It: Also known as prairie gaillardia, this is a showy, prolific bloomer with interesting flowers and attractive, narrow leaves. Its overall look is dainty and elegant.
Preferred Garden Environment: Dry, sandy soils in part shade; prefers good drainage
Pro Tip: With deadheading and pinching back, it will produce blooms until frost.
Brings the Blooms: May to September and beyond (see pro tip above)