How to Care for Globe Gilia Plants (Gilia Capitata)

HomeHow ToCare GuideHow to Care for Globe Gilia Plants (Gilia Capitata)

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Globe Gilia, also known as Gilia capitata. They are an annual herb that can grow up to 1 meter in height. The plant has lacy green foliage and upright stalks that bear round clusters of small, blue flowers. The flower clusters, which can contain anywhere from 10 to 100 individual flowers, range in color from pale blue to bright lavender-blue.

The plant is indigenous to the western regions of North America, particularly California, Oregon, and Washington, thrives in a variety of habitats, from coastal bluffs to inland valleys, and is commonly found in grasslands, open woodlands, and chaparral. Their adaptability to different soil types and climatic conditions has contributed to their widespread distribution. The plant often appears after an area has been burned, making it a fire follower.

Historically, Native American tribes in California recognized the value of Globe Gilia, using it for both medicinal and ornamental purposes. The plant’s vibrant flowers were often incorporated into traditional ceremonies and used as a natural dye.

Botanical Name
Gilia capitata
Plant Type
Annual herb
Family
Belongs to the Polemoniaceae family, commonly known as the Phlox family
Height
Grow to a height of 6 to 42 inches
Foliage
Fern-like foliage that is bluish-green
Bloom Time
The spring and summer
Climate
Thrives in hot, dry climates and can grow at elevations up to 6,000 feet
Sun Exposure
Full sun to grow well
Soil Requirements
Prefers well-draining soil with a neutral pH
Hardiness Zones
Globe Gilia is perennial in hardiness zones 7 to 10 and can be grown as an annual in zones down to 5
Flowering
Produces spherical clusters of small, tubular flowers that are attractive to pollinators
Seasonal Features
Known for its long blooming period, which lasts from early spring to midsummer
Drought Tolerant
Once established, Globe Gilia requires very little water
Pollinator Friendly
Attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
Low Maintenance
Easy to care for and can self-seed
Toxicity
Non-toxic to humans and pets

How to Care for Globe Gilia

Water

Globe Gilia is highly drought-tolerant and requires minimal watering once established. During the initial planting phase, it’s important to water regularly to help the roots become established. Once the plant is mature, an occasional deep soaking is sufficient, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Usually established plants can rely on rainfall to meet their watering needs But supplemental irrigation is beneficial during extended periods of extreme heat and dryness. This method mimics the plant’s natural habitat conditions, promoting healthier growth and preventing root rot.

Sunlight

Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) thrives in full sunlight, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to flourish. This exposure is crucial for its growth and vibrant blue-to-purple blooms, which attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. When grown in full sun, the stems of Globe Gilia become stronger and bulkier, whereas, in shaded areas, they may become leggy and less robust.

Choose a planting site that gets morning sunlight and, if possible, some afternoon shade, especially in regions with very hot summers. This can help protect the plant from excessive heat stress.

Fertilizer

Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) thrives best in well-drained soils with moderate fertility, benefiting from minimal but strategic fertilization. Before planting, incorporating a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer (such as a 10-10-10 NPK formulation) into the soil can enhance growth. During the growing season, a light application of the same balanced fertilizer or a bloom-boosting formulation with higher phosphorus content can support flowering. Over-fertilization should be avoided, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of blooms. Organic options like compost or well-rotted manure are also beneficial, providing essential nutrients and improving soil structure without the risk of chemical buildup

Soil

Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) typically grows in dry, rocky soils in open areas such as grasslands, meadows, and slopes, with a neutral pH (around 6.0-7.0). A good soil mix for Globe Gilia would include a combination of Sandy loam, Perlite or coarse sand, Organic matter, and Peat moss. Avoid heavy clay soils that retain too much moisture, as this can lead to root rot and other issues. While the soil should be moist during direct sowing or transplanting and as the plants establish, mature Globe Gilia plants are drought-tolerant.

Prune

Pruning Globe Gilia isn’t a common practice. However, you can deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms in late spring or early summer. Collect the removed flowers and dispose of them properly, and prevent the plant from self-seeding excessively, which may lead to overcrowding. In the fall, cut the plants to the ground and compost everything. This is important as they won’t survive frost or harsh winters. Once you’ve finished pruning, make sure to clean up any debris around the base of the plant to prevent the buildup of pests or diseases.

Temperature & Humidity

Globe Gilia generally grows well in temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). It even can handle temperatures up to 100°F (38°C), but may not perform as well in extreme heat or cold. In terms of humidity, Globe Gilia is drought-tolerant and requires very little water once established. However, it needs supplemental irrigation during prolonged drought conditions and harsh sun.

Container

When choosing a container for Globe Gilia, it’s important to select one that provides good drainage, as these plants thrive in well-drained soil. A container with multiple drainage holes at the bottom is ideal to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. The container should be deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root system, typically around 12 inches in depth. Additionally, using a container made of breathable materials like terracotta can help regulate soil moisture and temperature.

Potting and Repotting

When potting Globe Gilia, use well-draining soil and ensure the container has drainage holes. Repotting is not typically necessary as the plant is an annual.

  1. Select a container with good drainage holes. Globe Gilia prefers well-draining soil.
  2. Use a well-draining potting mix. You can add some compost to enrich the soil.
  3. Scatter the seeds onto the surface of the soil and firmly compress them, but do not cover them. Globe Gilia seeds require sunlight to germinate. Water the soil lightly to keep it moist but not soggy.
  4. Repot the seedlings when they reach 2-3 inches tall. Carefully remove the seedlings from their current container and transplant them into the new container. Ensure the roots are not damaged during the process.
  5. Water the transplanted seedlings and place them in a sunny location. Continue to water them lightly until they are well-established.

Types of Gilia

Globe Gilia encompasses a diverse array of varieties, each contributing its unique allure to the botanical world. Whether adorning gardens with shades of blue, white, or pink, or captivating onlookers with its compact or towering forms.

  • Classic Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) is the quintessential Globe Gilia, also known as Blue Thimble Flower, boasting vibrant blue to violet spherical flower heads atop slender stems. Each blossom is comprised of numerous tiny tubular flowers.
  • White Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata ‘Alba’) is a delightful variation of the classic species, the White Globe Gilia showcases pristine white flower heads that exude an air of purity and elegance.
  • Rosy Globe Gilia with its soft, rosy-pink flower heads, offers a delicate twist on the traditional blue blooms.
  • Dwarf Globe Gilia presents a diminutive yet equally enchanting version of its larger counterparts. This compact species features smaller flower heads nestled amongst finely divided foliage, making it an ideal choice for rockeries, crevices, or alpine gardens.
  • Tall Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata ‘Thurberi’) attention with its lofty stature and striking presence. Characterized by elongated stems adorned with spherical flower heads, this cultivar adds vertical interest to garden beds or meadow plantings.

How to Propagate Globe Gilia

Propagating Globe Gilia, or Gilia capitata, is quite straightforward. Regardless of the method you choose, make sure to provide the young plants with adequate moisture and protection from extreme temperatures until they are well-established. Once established, globe gilia is relatively low-maintenance and will often self-seed, providing you with new plants for the following season.

  1. Seed Collection: Globe Gilia is a self-sowing plant when in open meadows or natural settings. If you have existing plants, you can collect seeds from them once the flowers have matured and dried.
  2. Sowing Seeds: The best time to sow Globe Gilia seeds is in the autumn. This allows the seeds to take advantage of the cool weather and rain, which helps with germination. You can sow the seeds directly onto the soil without the need for scarification or stratification. Ensure the soil is well-draining and has a neutral pH level of about 7.0.
  3. Light Requirements: While Globe Gilia can grow in a range of light conditions, from full shade to full sun, it thrives best in full sun.
  4. Watering: Once established, Globe Gilia is drought-tolerant and requires very little water. An occasional deep soaking is appreciated.
  5. Maintenance: This wildflower is low-maintenance. If you wish to limit self-seeding, you can deadhead the flowers before they set seed. This can be done by shearing or mowing.
  6. Transplanting: If you start seeds indoors, you can transplant the seedlings outdoors when they reach about 2-3 inches tall.

How to Get Globe Gilia to Bloom

To encourage blooming, ensure the plant receives full sun and is planted in well-draining soil. Deadheading spent flowers can also promote more blooms.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Globe Gilia, known scientifically as Gilia capitata, is a resilient wildflower that is generally free from serious pests and diseases. However, it is important to avoid overwatering to prevent fungal diseases and root rot. Providing proper airflow and sunlight is key to keeping these plants healthy. For those looking to cultivate Globe Gilia, it’s reassuring to know that with the right care, pest and disease issues are unlikely to be a concern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Pair with Gilia Capitata?

Gilia capitata can be paired with a variety of plants to create visually appealing and ecologically beneficial garden combinations. Some options include California poppies, lupines, yarrow, penstemons, sage, dwarf sunflowers, blue flax, globe mallow, sulfur buckwheat, and coneflowers.

Is Gilia Capitata Invasive?

Gilia capitata is not considered invasive. However, it can self-seed and spread under favorable growing conditions, so it’s best to monitor its growth in the garden.

Is Gilia Capitata deer resistant?

Yes, Gilia Capitata is considered deer-resistant due to its bitter taste and strong scent. Deer typically avoids grazing on it.

Can Gilia Capitata Be Used in Cut Flower Arrangements?

Yes, the bright blue flowers of Gilia capitata make beautiful additions to cut flower arrangements. They add color and texture to bouquets and floral displays.

Is Gilia Capitata Suitable for Xeriscaping?

Yes, Gilia capitata is well-suited for xeriscaping and low-water landscapes. It is drought-tolerant once established and requires little maintenance, making it an excellent choice for water-wise gardening practices.

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