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How to Grow and Care for Gaillardia — Blanket Flower

Gaillardia blanket flower
Blanket flower, Gaillardia aristata

Gaillardias are short-lived perennials and annuals grown for their long-lasting brightly colored daisy-like flowers that appear from summer into early fall. Gaillardias bear single and double flowers in shades of red, red-orange, maroon, and yellow.

There are about 30 species of Gaillardias. They are native to central and western North America. Most Gaillardias grown in gardens are hybrids developed to bear large blooms, 3 to 5 inches (7.6-12cm) wide.

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Gaillardias are members of the Aster family. They bear rosettes of hairy leaves topped by single or double daisy-like flowers. Perennial Gaillardias commonly live for three to five years.

Gaillardias are easy to grow from seed. They are a colorful choice for borders and cutting. They often reseed.

Blanket flower, Gaillardia x grandiflora
Blanket flower, Gaillardia x grandiflora

Get to know Gaillardia

  • Plant type: Annuals and perennials
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 2 to 10
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -35°F (-37°C); thrives in hot, warm, or cold climates
  • Height and width: 10 to 36 inches (25-91cm) tall; 10 to 24 inches (25-61cm) wide, depending on the variety
  • Foliage: Toothed or lobed slightly hairy leaves from basal rosettes
  • Flowers: Daisylike, disk florets flowers
  • Flower colors: Red, orange, yellow, and bicolors; double and semi-double blooms
  • Bloom time: Summer through frost
  • Uses: Beds, borders, wildflower gardens, and containers; seaside gardens (salt-tolerant), hillsides, raised beds, parking areas, sunny walkways, patios, and bare and dry spots (drought-tolerant)
  • Common name: Blanket Flower, gaillardia
  • Botanical name: Gaillardia spp.
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Origin: North America

Where to plant Gaillardia

  • Plant Gaillardia in full sun—tolerates heat and drought.
  • Gaillardia grows best in average well-drained soil; poor, dry, and sandy soil is not a problem. Blanket flower prefers drier soil.
  • Soil too rich will cause plants to be floppy.
  • Gaillardia is drought and salt-tolerant.
  • Gaillardia prefers a soil pH of 6.1 to 6.5.

Gaillardia uses and companions

  • Mass Gaillardia for a colorful effect.
  • Use Gaillardia in a cottage and informal gardens.
  • Gaillardia can be included in wildflower plantings.
  • Gaillardia is best matched with other hot-colored flowers.
  • Good garden companions for Gaillardia are Achillea, Coreopsis, Hemerocallis, Linum, Solidago, and ornamental grasses.

When to plant Gaillardia

  • Plant Gaillardia in spring; perennial varieties can be planted in fall.
  • Sow seeds of annual Gaillardias indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring.
  • Sow seed outdoors after the last frost. Gaillardia is easy to grow from seed.
  • Set container-grown Gaillardia in the garden in spring and autumn.
Blanket flower,  Gaillardia aristata
Blanket flower, Gaillardia aristata

Planting and spacing Gaillardia

  • Sow seed indoors 1/8 inch deep in sterile seed starting mix or potting soil. Light aids germination, so gently press the seeds into the soil surface.
  • Sow seed outdoors in evenly prepared soil.
  • Space Gaillardia 1 to 2 feet (30-61cm) apart.

How to water and feed Gaillardia

  • Water Gaillardia until the soil is deeply moist, then allow the soil to dry before watering again. Allow the soil to dry between watering.
  • Established plants can tolerate dry soil.
  • Fertilize Gaillardia lightly if at all. Use an all-purpose fertilizer.
Blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella
Blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella

Gaillardia care

  • Trim Gaillardia spent blooms to keep the plant blooming.
  • Taller plants may need staking.
  • Gaillardia easily re-seeds itself so remove plants you don’t want.

Gaillardia pests and diseases

  • Gaillardia is prone to powdery mildew and leafhoppers.
  • Gaillardia is susceptible to crown rot in wet conditions.
  • Downy mildew may attack the undersides of leaves causing them to turn yellow.

Gaillardia propagation

  • Propagate Gaillardia by seed (see above), division, or stem cuttings taken in early summer.
  • Seeds germinate in 14 to 21 days at 55°-64°F (13°-18°C).
  • Propagate by rooting cuttings taken in winter. Grow cuttings in a cold frame before planting them in the open garden in spring.
  • Divide perennial Gaillardia every 2 to 3 years in early spring.
Blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella
Blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella

Gaillardia varieties to grow

  • G. aristata, blanket flower: Perennial wildflowers can grow to 30 inches (76cm) tall and spread to 24 inches wide; 4-inch-wide flowers with red-orange centers and yellow petals with lobes at the tips; blooms summer to fall.
  • G. x grandiflora, blanket flower: Short-loved perennial to grow in Zones 2-10; grows 24 to 36 inches (60-91cm) tall; 3 to 5 inch wide flowers in a combination of reds, Maroon,s oranges, and y3llo2w from early summer to fall; dwarf cultivars grow 8 to 16 inches (20-40cm) tall.
  • G. pulchella, blanket flower: Annual grows to 18 inches (45cm) tall; bears red, yellow, or red and yellow daisylike flowers to 2 inches wide with purple-black centers from summer to fall; grows in Zones 2-11. ‘Red Plume’ is an All-America Selection with dwarf habit and extended bloom time; ‘Yellow Sun’ produces dense mounds of foliage and bright yellow flowers.

Gaillardia x grandiflora — Blanket-flower

Gaillardia x grandiflora bears 3-inch-wide, single or semidouble, daisylike flowers that are banded with bright colors from early summer to mid-fall. Rounded, dark burgundy or russet centers are surrounded by two-toned, gold-and-maroon petals with jagged notches at their tips. Leaves are 6 inches long, gray-green, and toothed, somewhat resembling dandelion foliage. Gaillardia x grandiflora is a hybrid between an annual and perennial species. It is a perennial that lives just two or three years.

  • Size: 2 to 3 feet tall; 2 feet wide.
  • Light: Full sun.
  • Soil and moisture: Fertile, sandy, well-drained soil. Tolerates seashore conditions. Allow to dry between waterings; drought tolerant.
  • Planting and propagation: Plant container-grown plants in spring, spacing 1 ½ feet apart. Divide in spring, replanting root sections that show new growth. Self-sown seeds may not come true. Take stem cuttings in summer.
  • Special care: Deadhead plants to prolong blooming.
  • Pest and diseases: Sometimes powdery mildew and leaf hoppers. Crown rot if too wet. Root rot in winter in heavy soil.
  • Climate: Zones 2-10; heat tolerant.
  • Cultivars and similar species: ‘Gobling,’ 4-inch flowers with yellow-edged red petals, dwarf to 1 foot tall; ‘Golden Goblin,’ pale yellow, 1 foot tall; ’Baby Cole,’ 3-inch flowers with yellow petals banded with red, dwarf to 8 inches tall; ‘Burgundy’, solid wine-red; ‘Aurea Pura’ and ‘the Sun’, solid golden yellow; ‘Monarch Mix,’ seed-grown, variable mix of solids and bicolors. G aristate: one of its parents, less showy but longer lived; use in naturalistic gardens and meadow plantings.
  • Garden use: Cottage and informal gardens. Gaillardia’s Bicolored blossoms are difficult to combine with other flowers. Best coupled with other color flowers or their pastel versions.

Gaillardia frequently asked questions

Q: What conditions do Gaillardia like?

A: Gaillardia likes hot sun and dry soil. It needs very little fertilizer. It actually prefers infertile soil.

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