Sundance

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Sundance

Image by Jason A. Samfield
Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel, Indian blanket, Indian Blanketflower, or Sundance), is a short-lived perennial or annual flowering plant native to the central United States.

The branching stem of this plant is hairy and upright, growing to 60 cm (2 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, mostly basal, 4–8 cm long, with edges smooth to coarsely toothed or lobed. The pinwheel, daisy-like inflorescences are 4–6 cm diameter, vividly colored with red, orange and yellow. The central disc florets of the flower head tend to be more red-violet, with the outer ray florets being yellow. In one variety, almost the entire flower is red, with only the barest tips of the pedals touched with yellow. It blooms practically year-round in some areas, but more typically in summer to early fall. The seed is an achene.

It is a hardy plant, not picky about soil, though sandy and well-drained are best. It has a high drought tolerance and does best with a dry, hot climate in full sun. Its vibrant colored flowers can be seen carpeting fields and the sides of highways for miles in the summer to late fall. In the garden, the flowers can be removed/deadheaded to promote further blooming. It self seeds freely.

Gaillardia pulchella (with the perennial Gaillardia aristata) is the parent of Gaillardia x grandiflora, a hybrid, from which several cultivars have been created. One of these is ‘Sundance Bicolor’, a perennial double-form with the flower heads having florets of alternating red and yellow. Because of its bright colors it is well adapted in the sun. Others are Goblin and Tangerine.

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Peter N. Toby, 38, at home with Baby-Girl Ture, 30, and their son Rdriffa T. Toby, 4. Toby spends each morning listening to Truth FM radio station for leads.

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