When someone says “drought tolerant”, they are talk about a plant that can grow with very little water. But when you are talking about Blanket Flowers, what you should say is “desert tolerant”. I honestly am not sure these plants need water.
The flower pictured to the right is the descendant of a North Carolina Souvenir. I make it a point to bring back a plant from every pace that I visit. On a trip to North Carolina with family several years ago, we stayed in a beach house in Nag’s Head, North Carolina. The beach outside the house had only one kind of plant growing in it, and that was hundreds of Blanket Flowers or Gaillardia. The sand was of the fine, fine kind. Lovely for beaches, not so great for plants and yet these tenacious plants survived.
I scooped up one, plopped it in a used plastic beer cup (I have that kind of family) and held it in my lap all the way home. I gingerly planted it in the driest bed I have and it rewarded me by abandoning the bed a year after I planted it. Apparently, it preferred to grow in the cracks in the sidewalk next to the bed, because that is now the ONLY place in my garden I can get it to grow.
Massive, 2 – 3 foot tall plants grow from 1/4 cracks. TLC is apparently the last thing this plant needs. It just wants to be kicked to the curb and abused. I think that there is a psychological condition that addresses this mindset, but I am not a plant shrink, so I don’t know what to call it.
Blanket Flowers were named for an amateur botanist who happened to have alot of money to give to professional botanists (note to Bill Gates, Paris Hilton or any of the Princes of Saudi Arabia, if you give me money, I promise to find you a plant to name after you). As a result of financial contributions, Frederick Pursh named this plant after M.Gaillard de Charentonneau in the botanical book, Flora Americae Septentrionalis. Many of the plants that were in this book were discovered during the explorations of Lewis & Clark, which is the case with the Blanket Flower. Found in Montana by that famous party, it now grows wild in many part of the US and beyond.
The common name of Blanket Flower comes from the fact that they were colored much like the brightly woven blankets of the Native Americans who lived in the area where the plant was first found.
Pretty flower, doesn’t need my help to grow and yet does not feel the need to bully my other plants. While this may be a loner plant and it may grow in inconvenient locations (good thing the kids have learned that plants come before convenience), it is one plant I am glad has decided to join my garden party in a rebel, you suck but I’ll hang sort of way.