All About Growing Gaillardia
Gaillardia, or Blanket Flower, is am easy to grow, short-lived perennial with richly colored, daisy-like flowers. There are over two dozen species of Gaillardia and most are native to some area of North America. Gaillardia pulchella, which is native from southeastern U.S. through to Colorado and south into Mexico, was cross bred with Gaillardia aristata, a prairie flower, to create Gaillardia X grandiflora.
Most of the modern blanket flowers we grow in our gardens are the hybrid Gaillardia X grandiflora
Gaillarida forms a slowly spreading mound. Although generally short-lived, it can reseed and sprawl through the garden. Since the original plants are hybrids, expect some variation from self-seeding.
- Leaves: Lance-shaped gray-green leaves are sometimes lobed.
- Flowers: 3 - 5 inches across, in various shades of yellow and red. Some have petals surrounding a center disk which produces florets. Others have trumpet-shaped florets surround the entire disk.
Gaillardia x grandiflora
Most blanket flowers will be reliably perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 - 10, but hardiness does depend on the variety and the growing conditions,
Full sun. Blanket flower can handle some partial shade, particularly in hot climates, but they will get a bit floppy and will not flower as profusely.
Mature Plant Size
12 - 18 inches (h) x 12 - 24 inches (w)
Blanket flowers have a long season of bloom, repeat flowering from mid-summer through fall.
Suggested Blanket Flower Varieties
- Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' - 2005 All-America Selections Winner. 3-4" flowers have a red center surrounded by yellow.
- Gaillardia 'Burgundy' - Wine-red petals with a yellow center disk that ages to burgundy.
- Gaillardia 'Fanfare' - Trumpet-shaped flowers that shade from soft red through yellow radiate from a rosy center disk.
- Gaillardia 'Goblin' - Large green leaves are veined in maroon. Very hardy.
- Gaillardia 'Mesa Yellow' - 2010 All-America Selections Winner. Striking yellow flowers grow true from seed.
Using Blanket Flower in the Garden
Gaillardia are such long bloomers, they work equally well in borders and containers. The bold flowers blend especially well with soft textures, like thread-leaf Coreopsis and cosmos, as well as airy ornamental grasses.
Blanket Flower Growing Tips
Soil: Gaillardia is not particular about soil pH, but it does need a well-draining soil. It will grow in somewhat moist conditions, but heavy clay soil will probably kill it. Once established, Gaillardia is extremely drought tolerant. Poor soils seem to encourage more flowering than rich soils, so go easy on the fertilizer.
Planting Blanket Flower: You can find seeds of many Gaillardia x grandiflora varieties. You can sow them in the spring, but they may not flower the first year. Get a head start by sowing in late summer and protecting the young plants over the winter.
Blanket flower is more commonly grown from purchased plants. Since the plants can be short-lived and they don't grow true from seed, it is best to divide the plants every 2-3 years, to keep them going.
Plant blanket flower any time after frost and keep them well watered until you see them actively growing. Then you can ease up on the water and let them acclimate to your garden.
Caring for Your Blanket Flower Plants
Blanket flower does not require deadheading to keep blooming, but the plants will look better and be fuller if you do cut the stems back when the flowers start to fade.
You will also get more continuous flowering with deadheading, so don't be shy about it.
Divide Gaillardia plants every 2-3 years, to keep them from dying out.
Pests & Problems of Gaillardia
Diseases: Blanket flower plants are usually problem free, but they are susceptible to aster yellows, a virus-like disease that can stunt their growth and cause the flowers to be green. Aster yellows is spread by leaf-hoppers and aphids, so the best thing to do is to encourage predators, like lady bugs. Plants that do get aster yellows should be destroyed. They will not recover and the disease can continue to spread.
Pests: As noted under Diseases, leaf hoppers and aphids can spread disease. Hopefully, you will have enough natural predators around to keep them in check. Otherwise, spray with insecticidal soap.