Gaillardia, also known as ‘Blanketflower,’ is a type of perennial wildflower native to the US. You may see it growing along highways and in open fields, producing vibrant red-orange, daisy-like blooms during the spring. Since it’s so popular as groundcover in many gardens, people also wonder if you can grow them in pots.
You can grow gaillardia very well in pots. Most gardeners choose to transplant several adult gaillardia plants into a single pot rather than cultivate from seed. This is because the seedlings may not bloom in their first season. Putting several plants in one pot is also more visually attractive.
This article will explore how to grow gaillardia in pots. I will include information about light requirements, pots, soil, watering, and more.
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How To Grow Gaillardia in Pots
Gaillardia (Gaillardia aristata) can be grown easily in pots either from seed or by transplantation. They are hardy, drought-tolerant, and low-maintenance plants (source).
Gaillardia’s basic care requirements include:
- Soil: A well-draining commercial potting mix.
- Pot: Containers of at least 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter for adult plants (larger if you’re potting several plants together).
- Light: Full sun
- Water: Water when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry.
- USDA Growth Zones: Most Gaillardia varieties flourish in zones 3-9.
How To Transplant New Gaillardia Into Pots
You can purchase Gaillardia from your local nursery or big box garden supply store in early spring. They usually come as yearling plants, already flowering, and may be sold in 3-5 inch (8-12 cm) pots or larger.
These young plants will eventually grow 12-18 inches (30-46 cm) tall, although some varieties may grow as much as 36 inches (91 cm) tall. As such, it’s important to choose the right pot for your transplanting.
Choosing a Pot for Gaillardia
Choose a new pot that is 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) larger in diameter than the pot your Gaillardia came in (source).
A single plant in a 3-inch (8 cm) pot should be transplanted to a 5-6 inch (13-15 cm) pot. A single plant from the nursery in a 5-inch (13 cm) pot should be transplanted into an 8-inch (20 cm) pot, etc.
However, for a full and attractive arrangement, plant 3-4 yearling Gaillardia into a single 12-16 inch (30-40 cm) pot. Keep in mind that whichever size you choose, you will need to replant your Gaillardia at least once a year, if not more.
It may seem tempting to choose a larger pot to start, but this can be detrimental to the plant’s health. Excess room in the pot means excess soil, and excess soil holds onto more water. This often results in overwatering and root rot, which can kill your Gaillardia.
Transplanting Your Gaillardia
Do your transplanting on an overcast day or in a shady area. This will help prevent shock to the plant. Also, use fresh potting soil (source).
Most nursery plants require immediate transplantating. When you get them, their roots are usually overgrown and often tightly root bound.
For the best results, gently loosen the bottom of the root ball. It’s okay to break some of the roots.
This will encourage new root growth and help the plants establish themselves faster in the new pot. However, if you break the roots too much, you can shock the plant and slow the production of new flowers for a while.
Don’t worry! Gaillardia is hardy and will bounce back quickly with proper care. Water the newly transplanted Gaillardia and position the pot in a bright but partially shady area for a couple of days while it acclimates to its new environment.
After that, you can move it to a place with full sun, and you’ll have new growth within a couple of weeks.
How To Grow Gaillardia in Pots From Seed
Growing Gaillardia from seeds is extremely easy. In fact, many gardeners simply scatter the seeds across their gardens and let nature do the rest.
However, if you want to ensure a high level of success, the process takes a few more steps. You will need a different soil medium and different parameters for light, water, etc.
1. Choose the Right Soil Mixture
While Gaillardia seeds will start in regular potting soil and in the ground, starting them in a soilless seed starter mix will ensure more of the seeds germinate successfully. A fine seeding mix is easier for seedlings to root in and prevents them from being overrun with mold and bacteria.
There are several ways to get the right soil mixture for your Gaillardia seeds. You can purchase seed starter soil at your local garden supply store or make your own from a combination of compost, sphagnum moss, peat moss, perlite, and/or vermiculite.
There are many ways to do it, but here’s a basic recipe for a DIY seed starter (source):
- 4 parts compost
- 2 parts peat moss
- 1 parts vermiculite
- 1 part perlite
For best results, break up any clumps in this mix until you have a very fine medium. In fact, the finer the better. You can even put the mixture through a screen before you add the perlite to make sure it’s extra fine.
2. Choose the Right Container
Choose a small, shallow pot, no more than 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter. This is mainly because a larger pot will be too deep and require and too much soil.
If you like, you can even use a small Tupperware container or something similar. You want to have around 2-3 inches of the seeding mixture.
Fill the container with your seeding mixture and tamp the mixture down gently. Leave about 1 inch (2 cm) of space between the soil’s surface and the container’s lip.
3. Sow Your Seeds
Moisten the mix with a spray bottle before adding the seeds. However, don’t soak it. You want it to be moist but not soggy.
Place the seeds on the soil’s surface 1-2 inches (5-8 cm) apart. You can leave them on the surface or sprinkle some seed starter mix over them, but don’t bury them entirely. Gaillardia seeds need light to germinate.
If you add more soil over the seeds, spray it once more with your mister to moisten all the soil.
4. Provide the Right Amount of Light
Place the container indoors, on a windowsill, where it will receive direct sunlight. Eight hours of sunlight per day is ideal.
However, the temperature should remain steady between 60-65 °F (15-18 °C). Keep the container away from drafts, vents, and heaters. If you have a heat spell or the window gets too hot, move it away from direct sunlight until the temperature cools.
5. Care for Your Seeds Until They Germinate!
Germination takes around a month, but you may see growth as early as three weeks. During this time, you should check the container daily.
Continue to moisten the soil with a mister whenever the surface dries out. Check the top 1 inch (2 cm) of soil with your fingertip and water only when it feels dry.
6. Repot and Raise Your Seedlings
- When they have two leaves, you can remove the seedlings from the container. Pot them individually in 2-inch (4 cm) nursery pots with the same soil you’d use for adult Gaillardia.
- Fertilize the seedlings every two weeks with a diluted 10-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer. A good mix is one teaspoon (5 mL) to one gallon of water.
- Continue to give them full sun and water when the top inch of the soil is dry. They may need to be repotted one more time before winter into 4-inch (8 cm) pots.
- Transplant them into larger pots the following spring. They are now ready to be moved outside!
Gaillardia can easily be grown in pots from seeds or by transplanting established plants. They are hardy, drought-tolerant, and low-maintenance perennials that produce gorgeous red-orange blossoms which come back each spring.
Keeping Gaillardia in pots requires fast-draining soil, full sun, and infrequent watering. All you need to grow them from seeds is a basic seeding mix, a shallow container, a spray bottle, and a sunny windowsill.
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