Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Collecting Gaillardia Seed

Earlier this year I received some unknown seed from my mother-in-law.  Her labels were somewhat vague - yellow flower - red flower - but I decided to plant those seeds in the ground and see what surprises were in store for me.

This bag of fluffy seeds below was planted indoors under grow lights and to my delight, they grew with ease.

Once the weather grew warm I planted them in a container in the front garden and waited.  In a few months they looked like this and much fun was had guessing what they might be.

By the end of August it became clear as the plants expanded and flowers appeared - these are Gaillardia or Blanket Flower.

Aren't they pretty?  and long lasting too.  We've had some great fall weather here this year and these lovely flowers are still producing blooms out in the front yard.  Gaillardia come in perennial and annual varieties and I'm not sure which I have.  In fact, it appears that I actually have two different varieties all together as the petals are very different on these flowers.

Instead of petals there are individual flowers ringing the disk of this bloom
Regardless of the variety these pretty plants are producing seed and I have been collecting this over the last month so that next year I'll continue to have more of these beauties.

As the flowers begin to fade the petals start to fall off leaving just the disk behind

At first the disk retains its' colour but that eventually begins to fade as the seeds are formed.

You can see the fresh dark coloured disk in
the background and the drying disk up front
Eventually the disk dries to the point that it looks grey and the seeds begin to loosen.

I wasn't around in time to catch this flower before the seeds blew away in the wind.  Once they have dried you must be quick to catch them before they drop and scatter.  If you find a seedhead that looks dry a quick rub will tell you whether it is ready or not.  Seeds that fall away from the plant are ready for you to take inside for storage.  If they stick, they need a little time yet to dry.  


  1. I have had absolutely no luck with this plant...and have tried at least four times now..given up. Bravo and wonderful to you...don't know what your secret is...likely that PEI fertile red soil. A titch envious )

    Sorry not blogging right now..back soon.

  2. These flowers have always looked too stiff and almost artificial to me. But your photos make them appear so cute and sunny, and I love that they started out as mystery seeds! It must have been fun to watch them grow to discover what they were.

  3. Mystery seeds are fun to let grow. Our Master Gardener's greenhouse had some planted and none of us knew the plant they produced.

  4. That's a good sort of surprise to have! Gorgeous colour.

  5. You describe one of the joys of gardening. Growing from seeds to flower when you are not certain what they are going to be. Such beautiful flowers. I love 'daisy' type flowers.

  6. Brenda - I had no idea these were hard to grow. Crazy how I struggled with beets and kale yet this flower shot up like nothing.

    Laurrie - I completely understand your thoughts. These would not have been my first choice for a flower due to the super bright colours but I'm learning to appreciate reds and yellows in my yard. Other colours get lost but these beauties shine no matter how far away you're looking at them.

    Donna - most of the mysteries were solved this year but there's still a few that I never did figure out. There's a plant right next to the Gaillardia that never flowered so I have to assume they're perennial but I still have no idea what.

    Janet - as I said to Laurrie, I never was a fan of bright colours like this but I appreciate them more now with a large yard. They create a focal point that blues and purples just aren't capable of.

    Kentish - there is something special about growing from seed isn't there? Watching that miracle of life start with a tiny speck and growing into something so beautiful. There's a feeling of pride when you collect the seeds yourself and grow them on.

  7. What a fun surprise! I love this plant. I've never seen one like your second, with individual flowers on each petal! How unique!

  8. a lovely surprise, I love the one with all the little flowers around the centre so sweet, seed gathering is something I'm trying with the flowers from the packet seeds I scattered this year, it's not easy so well done, Frances

  9. My gaillardia were miserable this summer and I ended up pulling them. It was really frustrating since I love them so much. But I'm such a sucker for plants I love that I know I'll end up trying them again somewhere else in the garden next summer. :o)

  10. You had me fooled... I thought for sure that was going to come up as a weed!

  11. Holley - I wondered if anyone would recognize this plant. I've never seen it before either and I'm not sure if it's unusual to anyone else.

    Frances - some plants are easier to gather seed from than others. I've just shown a couple of the easier ones. In the past with some plants I've had a hard time recognizing what is a seed and what isn't.

    Tammy - I think I got lucky with placement on these plants as I obviously didn't even know what they were. Some of the other mystery plants didn't fare quite as well.

    Jess - LOL, it wouldn't be the first time that's happened to me. My mother was always a great one for giving me plants that turned out to be weeds. She never seemed to distinguish when she dug things up.