Native to the South and Midwest, these easygoing summer bloomers feature daisylike flowers in warm colorsyellow, orange, and red. They thrive on neglect, so put away the watering can and fertilizer. They love heat, have no serious pests, and are not fussy about soil (though they must have good drainage). Easy to grow from seed; excellent cut flowers; deer resistant. Well- adapted to the beach.
G. aristata. BLANKET FLOWER. Perennial. This parent of the hybrid G. x grandiflora has been replaced to a large degree by its offspring, but the wild form is still much used in prairie restoration and wildflower mixes. Grows 2212 ft. tall and 2 ft. across, with flower heads up to 4 in. wide. Colors range from yellow to red; most familiar form is red with a jagged yellow border on the ray flowers.
G. x grandiflora. Perennial. Offspring of G. pulchella and G. aristata. Grows to 24 ft. high, 112 ft. wide. Somewhat rough, gray-green foliage; single or double flowers to 34 in. across. Much variation in flower color; range includes various warm shades of red and yellow with orange or maroon bands. Exceptionally long bloom period for a perennialfrom early summer until frost. Plants flower first year from seed. Can be short lived in hottest, most humid areas.
Many strains and selections are available, including dwarf kinds and types with extra-large blossoms. 'Baby Cole' grows just 68 in. tall, with yellow-tipped red flowers. Foot-tall choices include 'Arizona Apricot' (golden yellow flowers with soft apricot center), 'Arizona Red Shades' (deep red petals with yellow tips), 'Goblin' (red-orange flowers with bright yellow tips), and 'Goblin Yellow' (solid yellow). 'Mesa Yellow' is a uniform grower to 1618 in. tall, with a profusion of solid yellow flowers. Commotion series offer brightly colored flowers with striking, fluted petals. Grow 1824 in. tall. Among 212-ft.-tall choices are deep red 'Burgundy'; pure orange 'Tokajer'; 'Painter's Palette', a seed strain with blooms in burgundy, clear yellow, rosy red with golden tips, and other red-and-gold combinations; and 'Torchlight', with yellow flowers bordered in red. 'Yellow Queen' has clear yellow blossoms with a golden eye and may reach 3 ft. tall.
G. pulchella. INDIAN BLANKET. Short-lived perennial usually treated as an annual. To 1122 ft. high, 1 ft. wide, with soft, hairy leaves and long, whiplike stems carrying 2-in. flowers in red, yellow, gold. Easy to grow; sow seeds in warm soil after danger of frost is past. 'Red Plume' and 'Yellow Plume' are double flowered, with 2-in. blossoms on uniform 12- to 14-in. plants. 'Dazzler Mix' reaches 20 in. high, with double flowers in cream, pink, rose, and orange. Plants in the Galya series are vigorous and free-blooming; available in single, double, and trumpet-petaled blooms in the full color range.