With fall coming, LSU AgCenter horticulturists are encouraging planting Mesa series gaillardias in September or October. If they’re planted early enough, gaillardias will begin flowering before Christmas.

Also called blanket flowers, gaillardias are native Louisiana perennials.

Although traditionally planted in spring, the versatile Mesa series are being promoted for fall planting, which allows them to really show off what they can do, AgCenter horticulturists say.

These plants are winter-hardy and will not be severely damaged by cold weather. The main advantage of fall planting is improved performance the following spring and summer.

Mesa gaillardias, which have been named Louisiana Super Plants for this fall, come in three colors — Mesa Peach, Mesa Yellow and Mesa Bicolor. The large, 3-inch, daisy-like flowers appear in amazing abundance through an exceptionally long blooming season. The bright flowers are rich in nectar and will attract butterflies.

Mesa Yellow was an All-America Selections winner in 2010. It was the first hybrid blanket flower with a controlled plant habit and prolific flowering and has been impressive in AgCenter trials. Individual plants are neat and mounded, reaching about 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide.

Plant Mesa gaillardia in a full sun, well-drained landscape bed. They are adaptable to smaller-space gardens or any type of container. When planted near the inside edge of the container, they’ll cascade down the side. They’re relatively maintenance free because they tolerate drought and aren’t menaced by insect pests.

Louisiana Super Plants selections have a proven track record with many years of reliable performance in Louisiana landscapes or have gone through several years of university evaluations and observations. Louisiana Super Plants are “university tested and industry approved,” according to the AgCenter.

Look for Mesa gaillardia at area nurseries and garden centers.

Upcoming events

The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden will roll out the fall welcome mat with a corn maze and pumpkin patch festival from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 27-28, in conjunction with the LSU Rural Life Museum’s Harvest Days.

Tickets will be on sale at the Rural Life Museum Visitors Center. Admission is $7 for corn maze activities in addition to LSU Rural Life Museum Harvest Days, which is $9 for persons age 12 years and older or $8 for those 62 years and older and children ages 6-11. Children under 5 enter free.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.