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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tale of the Scarlet Gilia

Scarlet Gilia.  The name conjures up an air of mystery, of dominance.  Perhaps a Spanish accent.  Like the side-kick to Zorro.  Ole.

And indeed, Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata) is a pretty fabulous plant.  Bright red tubular flowers hanging off tall, narrow stems, and leaves so narrow they almost look coniferous.  They bloom late in the summer (August), and hummingbirds and hawk moths love these beautiful flowers.  Drought tolerant and doesn't require much for nutrient input, this plant is great for Wyoming gardens.

Scarlet Gilia is a biennial, meaning it will bloom only after spending a year incognito.  I guess being this stunning takes a year of prep.  It will spend year 1 as a short rosette of leaves, and year 2 spring up with flower stalks.  It dies after blooming, but it is a heavy reseeder so you will likely get many new rosettes in the garden in year 3. 

We are in an off-year for Scarlet Gilia on the Berry Prairie.  Last summer, the green roof looked like it was to be overtaken by this species.  This year, we have just a couple plants in bloom:

And just wait for 2017; the Berry Prairie will be a sea of red in August.  And then we will learn if it really does have a Spanish accent.

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

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