Arizona Apricot blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata). Photo: Proven Winners

For long-lasting, easy-to-grow color in the garden, few plants rival blanket flower. This sun-loving prairie native with daisy-like flowers needs little care once established, rewarding with months of continuous bloom from late spring to fall. The common name is derived from the bright flower patterns that resemble blankets woven by American Indians, and refers to wild colonies that blanket the ground.

There are over two dozen species of annuals and perennials, most of which are native to North America. The nectar-rich flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and insect pollinators, while the seed heads are a food source for songbirds. Add some of these indispensable plants to your yard.

On this page: Basics | Planting Blanket Flower | Blanket Flower Care | Pictures | Design Ideas

On this page:

BASICS

Botanical name:

Gaillardia spp.

Common names:

Blanket flower, common gaillardia, or Indian blanket

Hardiness Zones:

3-10 for perennials, depending on the variety.

Height/Spread:

Upright, mounding or spreading habit, 1 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom time:

Late spring through fall

Flowers:

Daisy-like flowers bloom over an exceptionally long time, from late spring to fall. They occur in shades of orange, yellow, red, apricot, peach, and bronze, many with distinct patterns. Petals are pointed, fringed or tubular, in single or double arrangements.

Foliage:

The gray-green foliage is slightly hairy, with lance-shaped leaves that have smooth or lobed edges. Vigorous plants are upright or bushy with a strong branching habit.

Toxicity:

Skin irritation can occur on contact. Wash affected area with soap and water.

PLANTING BLANKET FLOWER

Pineapple Mango Nut container recipe with Heat it Up® Yellow blanket flower, Superbells® Dreamsicle®, and ColorBlaze® Wicked Witch™ coleus. Photo by: Proven Winners.

When to plant:

Plant starts or direct sow seeds outdoors in late spring after all danger of frost is past. Seeds can also be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date.

Where to plant:

Plant in a site that receives full sun and good air circulation.

How to plant:

Amend garden beds with compost or other organic matter. For containers, use a high-quality potting soil. Make sure soil is loose and well-draining. If plants are pot-bound, gently tease out the roots. Dig a hole the size of the root ball and place in the planting hole so the top of the root ball is level or slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Fill in the hole with soil, tamp down gently to remove air pockets, and water thoroughly. Water plants 2 to 3 times a week until established.

Growing from seed:

  • Indoors: Sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost-free date. Use seed starting mix and sow seeds on the surface of the soil. Keep evenly moist until germination in 7 to 20 days. Transplant seedlings outdoors when minimum temperatures are at least 50 degrees F.
  • Outdoors: Direct sow seeds in a sunny site with average well-draining soil. Thin seedlings 6 to 12 inches apart.

BLANKET FLOWER CARE

Heat it Up® Scarlet blanket flower. Photo: Proven Winners.

Pruning and deadheading:

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage rebloom. At the end of the growing season, leave seed heads as food for goldfinches and other song birds. Perennial types can be short-lived. To increase their chances of winter survival, shear clumps back to 6 inches tall in late summer.

Watering:

Keep soil evenly moist until plants are established. Mature plants will tolerate drought and need little supplemental water. Water once or twice a week if conditions are hot and dry. Avoid overwatering, which can cause root rot and fungal diseases.

Soil:

Blanket flower thrives in average soil and is tolerant of poor, sandy or rocky soils. It is not particular about soil pH, but loose soil with good drainage is essential. Avoid planting in heavy clay soil.

Amendments and fertilizer:

Blanket flower needs little or no fertilizer. Apply a thin layer of compost around the base of established plants in spring.

Dividing:

To increase vigor and extend the life of perennial forms, divide plants every 2 to 3 years in spring or fall.

Diseases and pests:

Blanket flower has few problems when planted in the right conditions. Diseases included powdery mildew, aster yellows, and fungal leaf spot. Plant in an area with good air circulation to reduce the chance of powdery mildew. Root rot can occur in poorly draining soil or prolonged periods of rain. Pests include aphids, leaf hoppers, and thrips.

Deer resistance:

Deer find the rough texture of the stems and leaves to be distasteful, though extreme conditions can result in deer grazing on plants they wouldn’t otherwise.

BLANKET FLOWER PICTURES

Swipe to view slides

Heat it Up® Yellow blanket flower. Photo: Proven Winners.

Heat it Up® Yellow blanket flowerBuy now from Proven Winners
Gaillardia hybrid

Habit: Upright spreading habit
Size: 8 to 12 inches tall and 10 to 16 inches wide
Bloom time: Early summer to fall

Blooms are produced continuously even without deadheading. This vigorous heat and drought-tolerant annual has a trailing habit.

Heat it Up® Scarlet blanket flower. Photo: Proven Winners.

Heat it Up® Scarlet blanket flowerBuy now from Proven Winners
Gaillardia hybrid

Habit: Upright spreading habit
Size: 12 to 24 inches tall and 18 to 36 inches wide
Bloom time: From planting to hard frost

Bright scarlet flowers add sizzle to containers and borders. This fast growing annual prefers rich moist soil with good drainage, but can tolerate dry conditions, drought, heat and humidity once established.

Arizona Apricot blanket flower. Photo: Proven Winners.

Arizona Apricot blanket flowerBuy now from Proven Winners
Gaillardia aristata

Habit: Upright spreading habit
Size: 8 to 12 inches tall and 10 to 16 inches wide
Bloom time: Early summer to fall

This short-lived perennial is not only dazzling in the landscape, it is exceptionally hardy, blooming prolifically over several months. Use this compact form in containers or as edging.

Photo by: Venchelana / Shutterstock

Great blanket flower
Gaillardia aristata

Habit: Upright spreading habit
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide
Bloom time: Late spring to fall

Native to western U.S. prairies, this long-lived perennial wildflower produces colorful daisy-like flowers over an exceptionally long time. Plant this taller form in a mixed border or naturalize in a meadow setting.

Photo by: Angelchev Spyrydon / Shutterstock

Indian blanket flower
Gaillardia pulchella

Habit: Upright habit
Size: 12 to 24 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide
Bloom time: Late spring to fall

Native to the eastern and southern US, this quick-growing annual is best sown from seed, as plants may not be readily available. Tolerates a wide range of soils, heat, and drought. Grows well in sandy beach locations and is salt tolerant.

Photo by: Maxine Livingston / Shutterstock

'Fanfare Blaze' blanket flower
Gaillardia ×grandiflora

Habit: Upright spreading habit
Size: 12 to 24 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide
Bloom time: Early summer to fall

This short-lived, fast-growing perennial performs best with regular water, though can take some drought once established. Remove spent flowers to encourage rebloom. Also makes a good cut flower.

Photo by: Ray Akey Photography / Shutterstock

'Arizona Sun' blanket flower
Gaillardia ×grandiflora

Habit: Compact spreading habit
Size: 6 to 12 inches tall and 10 to 18 inches wide
Bloom time: Early summer to fall

Large flowers bloom profusely over several months and create a riveting color pattern in the landscape. Deadhead for continuous bloom. Exceptionally cold hardy and butterfly-friendly.

Photo by: Alejandro Guzmani / Shutterstock

'Goblin' blanket flower
Gaillardia ×grandiflora

Habit: Compact spreading habit
Size: 8 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide
Bloom time: Early summer to fall

This short-lived, low-growing perennial blooms continuously all summer long, delivering vibrant color in the landscape, containers, waterwise borders, and rock gardens. Tolerant of heat, drought, and humidity.

Photo by: Thomas Pajot / Shutterstock

'Mesa Peach' blanket flower
Gaillardia ×grandiflora

Habit: Upright spreading habit
Size: 16 to 18 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide
Bloom time: Late spring to late summer

This bushy short-lived perennial begins blooming 2 to 3 weeks earlier than most other varieties, flowering in its first year. The showy 3-inch blooms are fade-resistant, retaining their color in the heat of summer.

DESIGN IDEAS

There are many ways to incorporate blanket flower into your landscape. Here’s how:

  • Plant blanket flower in a cottage-style border alongside other easy-care summer bloomers such as black-eyed Susan, salvia, phlox, coneflower, veronica, and bee balm.
  • Place a smaller type in a container as a filler element in combination with other plants with similar needs such lantana, verbena, sedums, or small ornamental grasses such as blue fescue.
  • Edge a sunny pathway with a low growing type for nonstop color all summer long.
  • For eye-popping contrast, plant blanket flower alongside other summer bloomers in cooler hues such as purple salvia, Russian sage, or blue lily of the Nile.
  • Mass on a slope for erosion control alongside other drought-tolerant perennials such as ornamental grasses, milkweed, catmint, and lavender.
  • Naturalize with other native plants such as daisies, coneflower, tickseed, yarrow, and blazing star for a low-maintenance landscape.
  • Transform a curbside strip with tough drought-tolerant plants such as blanket flower, sedums, sneezeweed, fescues, and asters.
  • Plant taller forms in a cutting garden along with other cut flower favorites such as cosmos, zinnias, and dahlias for colorful fresh bouquets all summer long.
  • Combine in a rock garden with other summer bloomers such as stonecrop, ice plant, dianthus, and beardtongue.

Companion plants:

Combine blanket flower with other drought-tolerant perennial companions such as lantana, coneflower, bee balm, blazing star, salvia, catmint, lavender, ornamental grasses, tickseed, and milkweed.

RELATED:
21 Easy Flowers
Drought-Tolerant Plants
12 Summer Flowers
20 Fabulous Fall Flowers

JOIN 95,000 GARDEN LOVERSSign up for weekly gardening inspiration and design tips

Get plant information, gardening solutions, design inspiration and more in our weekly newsletter.

* Required Fields
We will never sell or distribute your email to any other parties or organizations.

More about the newsletter

Follow Us Garden Design Magazine Facebook Garden Design Magazine Twitter Garden Design Magazine Pinterest Garden Design Magazine Instagram Garden Design Magazine Youtube

Shop Garden Products

From tools to furniture, these garden products are sure to delight

Discover unique garden products curated by the Garden Design editors, plus items you can use to solve problems in your garden right now, and best sellers from around the web.

Shop Garden Design!