Plant of the Month – February, 2010
Gaillardia pulchella ‘Dazzler Mix’. Photo courtesy of Thompson and Morgan Seed Co.
Gaillardia Dazzler Mix or Razzle Dazzle Mix
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Gaillardia pulchella ‘Razzle Dazzle’ or ‘Dazzler Mix’
Common name: Annual gaillardia, blanket flower, firewheel
Flowers: Double pompoms in multiple colors
Mature height: 20 in.
Width: 2 ft.
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Low
Sources: Mail order
Photo by Jimmy Turner.
You can always tell the real gardeners by how many seed catalogs they have stacked up beside the couch during the winter. I won’t even tell you how many I have, but let’s just say “too many.” Luckily for me, I actually get paid to buy weird seeds and try them out in the Dallas Arboretum Trial Gardens. A few years ago, while paging through the Thompson and Morgan Seed catalog — one of my personal favorites — I ran across a variety of our native gaillardia that had multi-colored double flowers. They looked just too cute to be real! The description read, “Ruffled Pompons in a Host of Bright Colors! Gaillardia Razzle Dazzle has amazing fully double blooms up to 3 inches in diameter, in a flashy mixture of cream, orange, yellow, burgundy and many bicolor shades. Use these bushy plants for creating a display in borders, containers or as a cut flower over a long flowering period.”
Those of you who have read or listened to me over time know that I’m not the most believing of any plant description written by a non-Texan. Three-inch flowers in all those different colors? Really? Who did they think they were trying to fool!? So I bought several packages of seeds and grew them out for the trial garden. I have to add that they sprouted quickly and grew like crazy. Personally, I think that’s due to their Texas heritage! Then the flowers started to appear. They really were 2- to 3-inch wide pompoms in every color the catalog claimed and a few it didn’t. There were creamy yellow ones, pinks, oranges, reds, purples and bi-colors. The flowers didn’t even resemble the orange-and-red pinwheels of the wild gaillardia we see across the state, but they were just as tough. The plants flowered from late spring right up until first frost and never even drooped in the hottest part of the summer.
The flowers are produced on tall, 20-inch stems, and make long-lasting cut flowers. ‘Razzle Dazzle’ doesn’t seem to be particular about soil type, from clay to sand, and is relatively pest free. Deer even leave it alone! Just be sure to remember that this is an annual gaillardia, not a perennial, so you will get just one year of bloom.
You most likely won’t find the plants in a nursery near you, but this variety is easily grown from seed. Just start the seeds inside anytime now, or sow them directly in the garden after last frost. I recommend covering the seeds lightly and keeping them moist until they sprout, which may take 14 to 25 days. When shopping, you may see this plant listed as ‘Razzle Dazzle’ or ‘Dazzler Mix’, depending on who is selling them. You can purchase seed directly from Thompson and Morgan Seed Company or from Park Seed Company.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the senior director of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit www.dallasplanttrials.org for more information on his trials.