Gaillardia [Gay-LAR-dee-uh] is a short-lived, easy-to-grow perennial, which sprouts richly colored, daisy-like flowers.
This plant has more than two dozen species, and most of them are native to North America all the way west to Colorado and down south to Mexico.
Gaillardia goes by the common name Blanket Flower or Indian Blanket because of its stunning bicolor flowers, which bear a resemblance to the colors found in the blankets created by Native Americans.
Moreover, as it grows, it also creates a mound, which spreads slowly and appears like blanketing the area.
The botanical name of this plant is Gaillardia Pulchella, and it belongs to the Asteraceae family (Sunflower family).
Once fully established, this plant becomes drought, heat-tolerant, and looks similar to the black-eyed susan.
Some popular varieties include:
- Gaillardia x grandiflora – Long season of bloom, daisy-like flowers.
- Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ – Orange-red blossoms, mesa yellow-tipped flower color.
- Gaillardia ‘Arizona Apricot’ – Softer palette in warm tones, central cone of amber.
- Gaillardia aristata (G. aristata) – Dandelion-like leaves, great blanket-flower.
- Gaillardia ‘Fanfare’ – Trumpet-shaped petals, red shades tipped with yellow.
- Gaillardia ‘Goblin’ – Flamboyant color scheme, sunny yellow serrated tips.
- G. pulchella – Shades of red-orange, sunflower appearance.
- Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’ – Wine red centers, 3″ wide blossoms.
- Gaillardia ‘Oranges and Lemons’ – Softer colors than other varieties, gold central cones.
Size & Growth
This plant grows up to 8″ – 10″ inches tall and 10″ – 12″ wide.
It has grayish green leaves and typically the bloom time is early summer to autumn.
The blanket flower has branched, wiry stems and its leaves are linear to lanceolate.
Flowering and Fragrance
This plant sprouts striking flowers in numerous shades of peach, orange, yellow and red.
A few have petals around the center disk and produce florets, while others include trumpet-shaped florets, which surround the overall center disk.
Gaillardia has a few or solitary flower heads growing on long peduncles.
These flowers are often long with thick woolly hair around the tip.
Light & Temperature
This plant prefers full sun to maintain its ideal self.
The blanket flower also tolerates partial shade, especially during hot temperatures.
However, they might become floppy and won’t be able to flower generously as they usually do.
Once fully established, the ideal temperatures are from 65° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C – 21° C).
Hardy in USDA hardiness zone 3 – 10.
Watering and Feeding
It is recommended to water frequently when planting Gaillardia.
It is best to water this plant after every one or two days till the flowers start appearing.
When fully established, it is highly drought-tolerant, which indicates it might survive without watering unless the plant is placed in dry or hot conditions.
In this case, water at least once every week, but make sure to avoid overwatering.
The blanket flower also doesn’t require much feed, so it is best to either totally avoid, or feed it once every few years.
Soil & Transplanting
This plant is not fussy about any particular pH of soil.
However, it needs well-drained soil for proper growth.
Somewhat moist conditions are okay for this plant, but hard clay soil might destroy it.
Grooming and Maintenance
Deadheading is best for Gaillardia in order to enhance flower growth.
This plant is typically short-lived, but their survival, especially during winter, may improve by cutting the clumps to 5″ – 6″ inches back in the late summer season.
The blanket flower is maintained better by dividing the plants after every 2 to 3 years during the early fall or late spring.
Plants newly divided or set out should be regularly watered until they are fully established.
How to Propagate Blanket Flower
Seeds are available for all varieties of Gaillardia.
Sow the seeds during the spring season, but typically, this plant doesn’t flower during its first year.
It’s best to sow during the late summer season and protect the plant throughout the winter season.
Commonly, this plant is grown using purchased plants.
As these plants are typically short-lived, it is recommended to propagate through dividing the plants after every two to three years to help them grow properly.
Indian Blanket Pest or Diseases
This plant is mostly problem-free but is also vulnerable to aster yellows.
This disease stunts the growth of the plant and results in the flowers turning green.
It is best to destroy a plant with aster yellows as in the majority of cases, the plant can’t recover, and there is a high chance the disease might spread.
In order to eliminate or prevent pests, insecticidal soap should be sprayed.
Gaillardia also causes skin irritation or skin rash when coming in contact with the sap or juice discharged from its foliage.
It is best to wear gloves when handling this plant.
In the case of poorly drained soil type, this plant might face root rot, especially in prolonged heavy rain.
It might also experience powdery mildew during increased humidity, but it doesn’t have a lasting impact on the blanket flower.
This plant is deer resistant.
Gaillardia Blanket Flower Uses
This native wildflower is highly beneficial for including species diversity in the seed mixes of native plants to rehabilitate disturbed sites.
It’s also utilized in generating wildflower sod to restore the colonies of native plants.
The blanket flower is also used as an ornamental plant in naturalistic or low maintenance landscapes.
It’s also useful as a food source for livestock, wildlife, and pollinators.
Another important use of this plant is as a diuretic, which is consumed for painful urination relief.
The leaves infusion should be taken internally, while it is also applied externally as a poultice, to treat gout.
The dried seeds of Gaillardia are grounded in a powdered form and kneaded into seed butter.
It is also useful for mixed containers, pot production and makes great cut flowers.