How To Grow and Care For Globe Gilia


Gilia capitata [GEE-lee-uh, kap-ih-TAY-tuh] is an annual wildflower producing pretty, blue puffball like flowers and member of the Phlox family.

It is native to North America, growing naturally in many parts of the United States and Canada. 

globe gilia (Gilia capitata)globe gilia (Gilia capitata)

This hardy, rugged wildflower does well in areas lower than 6,000′ feet in elevation. 

It thrives on dry, open plains, on slopes, and chaparral banks.

The plant’s common names are as numerous as its many native settings and include:

  • Blue Head Gillyflower
  • Queen Anne’s Thimbles
  • Blue Thimble Flower
  • Thimble Flower
  • Bluehead Gilia
  • Globe Gilia
  • Blue Gilia

Globe Gilia Care

Size & Growth

  • These enthusiastic wildflowers grow to be between 1′ and 3′ feet high. 
  • They spread easily through natural reseeding.
  • The plants’ stems are stout and sturdy. 
  • Leaves are small and bluish green. 
  • Both the stems and the leaves are covered with a thick coating of sticky fur.

Flowering & Fragrance

Although a powdery baby blue is the most common color for Thimble Flower, it also comes in shades of violet, lavender, and deeper blue. 

The flower heads consist of many tiny blossoms arranged in a globe formation. 

Bloom time lasts from early in the spring until midsummer.

The fragrant blooms are very attractive to beneficial wildlife such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Light & Temperature

Blue Thimble Flower can do well in all light settings ranging from full shade to full sun, but the plants do best in full sun. 

Because Bluehead Gilia’s native habitat ranges widely across the US and Canada, it is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones ranging from 1 through 10.

Watering & Feeding

Globe Gilia is drought tolerant and requires very little water. 

Once established, these wildflowers appreciate an occasional deep soaking.

Fertilizing is not necessary, but mulching with compost through the winter will help enrich the soil for healthier spring plants and blooms.

Soil & Transplanting

These easy-going native plants do well in all sorts of soil, ranging from sand to loam to clay. 

A neutral pH level of about 7.0 is best. 

The most important quality of the soil is it be well-draining.

There’s no need to transplant Queen Anne’s Thimbles as the plant grows best from seed sown directly onto the soil.

Grooming & Maintenance

These wildflowers are carefree. 

If you wish to limit self-seeding, deadhead the blooms before they go to seed. 

This is accomplished by shearing or mowing. 

You may wish to mow your field of Thimble Flower in late autumn for a tidier winter appearance and a clean, new start in spring. 

How To Propagate Gilia Capitata

Blue Gilia wildflowers are self-sowing when planted in open meadows, along roadsides, and in other natural settings. 

  • To start them in your garden, sow the seeds any time from fall to early in the spring.
  • It’s best to sow the seeds in autumn when they can take advantage of cool weather rain. 
  • Settling into the soil through the winter gives the seeds a chance to scarify for better germination.
  • This method follows the natural germination process as the flowers go to seed and self-sow in the autumn, and the seeds germinate and grow into healthy plants in the springtime.

If you hand sow the seeds, do so several times at two-week intervals. 

This will lead to more continuous blooms throughout the summer. 

When you scatter the seed on the ground, press it in lightly to ensure seed to soil contact.

After seeds germinate, thin the seedlings to allow about a foot of space between each plant.

It is also possible to sow seeds indoors a month or two before the last frost expected in your area. 

When all danger of frost has passed, plant your Gilia seedlings directly into your garden or into containers outdoors.

Gilia Capitata Main Pest or Disease Problems

These happy-go-lucky plants are entirely disease, and pest resistant as long as they receive good airflow, plenty of sunlight, and are not over watered.

Is The Gilia Plant Toxic Or Poisonous?

Plants in the phlox family are non-toxic.

Is The Gilia Invasive?

This native North American wildflower cannot be considered invasive in the United States. 

There are no reports of it becoming invasive in non-native settings. 

Nonetheless, if you live outside of its natural range and in an area conducive to its spread, take care to keep it contained within your garden, so it does not take hold and edge out local flora. 

Suggested Globe Gilia Uses 

Blue-head Gilly-flower is an excellent addition to your butterfly and pollinator garden. 

It is a component of many wildflower mixes and is great for mass planting in meadows, along roadsides, and in other open settings.

Individual plants do well as container plants through the summer. 

Because they are annual plants, they will not live through the winter if brought indoors.

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