Heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant and requiring minimum care, Gaillardia aristata “Arizona Red Shades,” a cultivar of this plant commonly called blanketflower, is up for just about anything, except moist soil. From spring through autumn, the big orange-red to yellow flowers bloom on 10- to 12-inch stalks. This cultivar grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Grow “Arizona Red Shade” anywhere you want a great deal of shade with minimum fuss.
Watering for Color
Water from the summer to keep the plants growing vigorously, but if water is scarce, it is possible to let this drought-tolerant wildflower cultivar fend for itself. The blossoms can wilt and die back but “Arizona Red Shade” will recover from the dry period when water, either through natural rainfall or manual watering, is reintroduced. This and other blanketflower cultivars are sensitive to excessively moist soil. Avoid planting in clay soil and also places that remain wet through part of this year.
Fertilizer for General Vigor
Use a general-purpose flower fertilizer to keep this cultivar blooming abundantly through the growing season. Feed “Arizona Red Shade” monthly with 6 1/2 ounces of granular fertilizer for every 10 square feet of lawn bed area. Scatter the fertilizer over the ground, being careful to keep it off the leaves and stalks then scratch it into the top 1 inch of the ground. Water when you finish spreading the fertilizer until the ground is moist at least 2 to 3 inches deep.
A Yearly Trim
In late winter or early spring, then cut out this past year’s leaf and flower stalks close to the ground line. Cut carefully to prevent damaging the leaves growing close to the ground. When the flowers begin to perish during the summer, pinch them off with hand-held pruning shears or your fingernails. This encourages more flowers. If you want “Arizona Red Shade” into self-seed, leave a few blossoms on the stalks until late autumn or winter. Remember to wash your pruning tools with a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water before and after trimming.
Keeping Pests in Bay
While normally immune to pests, including deer, “Arizona Red Shade” sometimes attracts aphids, mites or thrips. Check the undersides of the leaves weekly for pests. Aphids form colonies of miniature green, brown or white insects beneath the leaves while spider mites are detectible by the webs they spin leaves. Thirps look like miniature black, white or clear insects on the leaves. Control these insects with insecticidal soap spray combined at a dilution rate of 2 1/2 tablespoons mixed with 1 gallon of water. Spray all the leaves where the insects are visible. You might have to repeat the application weekly till they disappear.
Diseases and Prevention
In full sun and well-draining dirt, “Arizona Red Shade” isn’t susceptible to most diseases. The plants can contract bacterial leaf spot, and you will observe across dark spots on the leaves, or rust, a state that leaves dark red rusty deposits on the leaves. To prevent or minimize an existing issue, Water just at the foundation of “Arizona Red Shade.” Powdery mildew, a grayish white, powder on the leaves may take hold in humid weather but tends to disappear when it dries out.