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How to Grow and Care for Blanket Flower (Gallardia)

Miss Chen
Gaillardia, also known as blanket flower, is an easy-to-grow, short-lived perennial with richly colored, daisy-like flowers. The plant forms a slowly spreading mound and the common name may be a reference to how they can slowly spread and "blanket" an area. The plants grow to about 24 inches in height with about a 20-inch spread. Blanket flowers are fast-growers and will bloom in their first year. This garden favorite puts out large showy blossoms in shades of reds and yellows throughout the warm season months.


7 Tips for Every Gardener
Common Names Gallardia, blanket flower
Botanical Name Gaillardia x Grandiflora
Family Asteraceae
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size 12 to 18 in. tall; 12- to 24-in. spread
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Any well-draining soil (avoid clay soil)
Soil pH 6.1 to 6.5 (slightly acidic)
Bloom Time Repeat bloomer, summer through fall
Flower Color Various shades of red, yellow, orange, or peach
Hardiness Zones 3-10 (USDA); varies by variety
Native Area Cultivated hybrid; parents are native North American wildflowers
Toxicity Slightly toxic to humans
Blanket Flower Care
Gaillardia X Grandiflora is fully hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8. Due to extensive hybridizing you will likely be able to find a variety to fit your zone and climate conditions. The flower can reseed and easily sprawl through your garden. Since the original plants are hybrids, expect some variation from self-seeding.

Gaillardias are such long bloomers that they work equally well in borders and containers. Blanket flowers do well with other heat-loving plants that thrive in full sun. The bold, daisy-like flowers blend especially well with soft textures, like thread-leaf Coreopsis and cosmos, as well as airy ornamental grasses. For more contrast, plant them with spiky plants like Kniphofia, Crocosmia, or daylilies. 'Burgundy' contrasts well with blue flowers, like Salvia and veronica. All the Gaillardia varieties make excellent cut flowers.

These plants thrive best in full sun. The blanket flower can handle some partial shade, particularly in hot climates, but they will get a bit floppy and will not flower as profusely.

Gaillardia is not particular about soil pH, but it does need well-draining soil. It will grow in somewhat moist conditions, but heavy clay soil will probably kill it.
Immediately after planting, water frequently (every other day or so) until you see the flowers. Once established, Gaillardia is extremely drought tolerant. It can go without watering unless there are extremely hot and dry conditions, then it's best to water the bed once or twice per week. Avoid overwatering.

Temperature and Humidity
Blanket flowers thrive in full sun and can withstand hot summer temperatures. They do not require a humid environment and do better in hot, dry climates over cool, moist ones. In cooler climates, protect your overwintering blanket flowers with a thick layer of mulch.

Poor soils seem to encourage more flowering than rich soils, so go easy on (or avoid) the fertilizer.

Types of Blanket Flower
There are over two dozen species in the Gaillardia genus and most are native to some areas of North America. Gaillardia pulchella, which is native from the southeastern U.S. through to Colorado and south into Mexico, was cross-bred with Gaillardia aristata, a prairie flower, to create Gaillardia X Grandiflora, which is the most common garden form.

Here are other popular types:
Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun': A 2005 All-America Selections Winner, these 3- to 4- inch flowers have a red center surrounded by yellow.
G. 'Burgundy': These flowers feature wine-red petals with a yellow center disk that ages to burgundy.
G. 'Fanfare': This variety produces trumpet-shaped flowers that shade from soft red through yellow radiate from a rosy center disk.
G. 'Goblin': This is a very hardy variety with large green leaves that are veined in maroon.
G. 'Mesa Yellow': The 2010 All-America Selections Winner is known for its striking yellow flowers.
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. Deadheading isn't mandatory, but it may stimulate additional blooms. If the plant languishes in the heat of summer, cutting it back dramatically may reinvigorate it for good fall blooming.

Propagating Blanket Flowers
There are seeds for 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. Since the plants can be short-lived and they don't grow true from seed, it is best to divide the plants every two to three years in the spring to try to keep them going. Follow these steps to divide blanket flowers:

Use a spade to dig a circle about 6 inches to 8 inches around the mound of blanket flowers that need dividing. Dig down about a foot to release the root ball.
Lift the root ball from the soil using the spade. Shake the root ball slightly to remove some of the dirt to expose the roots.
Gently tease roots apart with your fingers and divide into two or three clumps. Each clump should include a few shoots of foliage.
Replant divisions in a prepared area that will allow the roots to spread.
Once roots are covered with soil, water thoroughly to moisten the roots.
Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, until you see the plant is no longer stressed, and then cut back on watering as you would with established blanket flowers.
Common Pests & Plant 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.2 Plants that do contract aster yellows should be destroyed. They will not recover and the disease can continue to spread. ​

Aster yellows are spread by leaf-hoppers and aphids, so the best thing to do is to encourage predators, like ladybugs.3 Hopefully, you will have enough natural predators around to keep them in check. Otherwise, spray with insecticidal soap which helps ward off the pests.
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