How To Care For The Blanket Flower: Growing The Gaillardia Daisy

About thirty species of Gaillardia [Gay-LAR-dee-uh] Daisy grow wild throughout North and South America and are native to the central United States. Among these species are annuals, perennials, and biennials.

These bright, carefree native wildflowers are often found covering sunny hillsides and prairies, giving rise to their most often-used common name, Blanket Flower.

Gaillardia Flower aka Blanket Flower Pin

Other common names include:

  • Rose Ring Blanket-Flower
  • Indian Blanket Flower
  • Great Blanket Flower
  • Common Gaillardia
  • Brown-Eyed Susan
  • Indian Blanket
  • Fire Wheel

The genus name of this member of the Asteraceae family of plants honors Gaillard de Charentonneau, a botanist in the 18th century.

Gaillardia Flower

Gaillardia Daisy Care

Size and Growth

These pretty cousins of sunflowers range in height from 1′ to 3′ feet. Individual plants may have a spread as great as about one-and-a-half feet. They have a moderate rate of growth with a low trailing habit.

However, these short-lived perennials last only around two seasons before dying out.

Indian Blankets’ simple, oblong, or lance-shaped green leaves are 3-6 inches long and 1” to 3” inches wide. They are arranged alternately along the stems. Leaves are typically deep green and rather furry.

Flowering and Fragrance

The daisy-like flowers are quite showy and may be 3″ or 4″ inches wide. Colorful blooms are abundant throughout the growing season, stretching its bloom time from early spring to early autumn.

The various species of Indian Blanket produce blooms in a vast array of vivid colors, including:

  • Coppery Brown
  • Yellow Gold
  • Burgundy
  • Orange
  • Red

..and combinations thereof. However, it’s well-known for its striking yellow flowers.

The showy, radial blooms typically have twenty petals each. The flowers are long-lasting and do well as cut flowers.

Light and Temperature

Fire Wheel enjoys full sun (a minimum of six hours daily). The plant does well in hot summer temperatures and can tolerate quite a bit of humidity.

Moreover, this perennial prefers a temperature of about 60° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit.

Blanket Flower is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3a through 8b.

Watering and Feeding

This drought-tolerant wildflower can do very well in dry conditions. However, occasional watering is still needed, especially once established. During times of extreme drought, soak and dry watering is recommended.

Moreover, it’s best to water the garden bed once or twice weekly. But avoid overwatering, as it can result in root rot and other fungal diseases.

Brown-Eyed Susan can do well in very poor soil and has little or no need for fertilizer.

Soil and Transplanting

Common Gaillardia needs well-draining soil with a neutral pH level (6.0-8.0). It can do very well in moist conditions or shallow, rocky soil but has little tolerance for soggy soil or wet feet.

It will do even better in light, loose soil type that has been well-amended with organic matter. In contrast, heavy clay soil will cause failure to thrive, and rich soil will encourage more leafy growth.

When planting seedlings, place them 1’ to 3’ feet apart to allow space for growth.

Grooming and Maintenance

Regular deadheading throughout the growing season is an essential part of the care of blanket flowers. This will keep your Indian Blanket looking neat and tidy. It will also encourage continuous flowering and stimulate additional blooms.

If plants become too tall and leggy, you can cut them down close to the ground or mow them. They should spring back with new growth fairly quickly.

After the first frost, consider cutting back the clumps to prepare them and make them last through the winter months. Don’t forget to apply a thick layer of mulch for protection in places with cooler climates.

How To Propagate Gaillardia Daisy

These easy-to-grow plants can be propagated by seed, division, or root cuttings. Established stands of Gaillardia will self-sow.

You can direct sow seed into the well-drained soil early in the springtime or in late summer (after all danger of frost has passed). You can do so by letting the flower head completely dry out and pinching them after for the blanket flower seeds.

However, the resulting plants will not grow as vigorously or bloom as quickly as those that have been self-sown by mature plants the previous fall.

To propagate Gaillardia by division, dig up and separate plants early in the autumn. Prune back excess vegetation and mulch over the newly planted roots to give them some protection against the winter cold. Water deeply immediately after planting.

Gaillardia Daisy Main Pest Or Diseases

For the most part, a healthy Rose Ring blanket flower is impervious to pests and disease. They are fairly unfazed by drought, heat, poor soil, and deer.

Plants that have been overwatered may be subject to attack by fungal diseases, such as fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, and aster yellows. Leaf miners and aphids may also attack weakened plants.

You can spray with insecticidal soap to eliminate these pests.

Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?

Gaillardia is covered with fuzzy hairs that can be irritating to the skin. The plant also contains irritants known as sesquiterpene lactones. 

To avoid problems with skin irritation, wear gloves when handling your plants. Wash up promptly afterward.

Is the plant considered invasive?

With such wide different varieties of Gaillardia, not all are listed as native in the areas where they thrive, but they are also not listed as invasive.

The plants do grow easily and enthusiastically, and they self-seed. To prevent unwanted spreading, you can keep the spent blooms rigorously deadheaded.

If you find your plants have spread to areas where they are unwelcome, pull them up.

Suggested Gaillardia Daisy Uses

Fire Wheel attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. It also provides cover and habitat for desirable fauna, and goldfinches love the seeds.

These cheery, carefree wildflowers require little attention, water, and soil quality. They thrive in grass-dominant prairies and other settings that would be inhospitable to many flowering plants.

In fact, there is almost no setting where Gaillardia Daisy will not thrive.

In addition, these blanket flower plants make a colorful addition to any perennial garden or flower bed, offering long-lasting hues of color because of their richly-colored, daisy-like flowers.

Suggestions for other use include:

  • Pollinator & Butterfly Gardens
  • Accent & Specimen Plantings
  • Naturalized Meadows
  • Borders & Walkways
  • Container Gardens
  • Small Groupings
  • Cottage Gardens
  • Coastal Gardens
  • Native Gardens
  • Mass Plantings
  • Slopes & Banks
  • Rock Gardens
  • Small Spaces
  • Xeriscaping
  • Roadside Plantings

Gorgeous blanket flower plants also work well when grown with other soft-textured plants and airy ornamental grasses at the garden centers. They can also be used to restore colonies of native plants.

Some species of Indian Blanket were used by the Native American people to make rawhide waterproof, to treat a wide variety of illnesses, and as inspiration for some of the beautiful patterns woven into their blankets.

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