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How to Grow and Care for Gorgeous Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia)

How to Grow and Care for Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia)
Their rich bright color and hardy nature makes blanket flowers ideal for backyards or flower beds. Blanket flowers are easy to grow and attractive to butterflies, making them a favorite among gardening enthusiasts. Gardenerdy provides some growth and care tips of the gaillardia plant.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Mar 4, 2018
Did You Know?
Blanket flowers can be used as a food source for farm animals and livestock.
The blanket flower is native to North and South America. It belongs to the Gaillardia genus, Asterales order and Asteraceae family. Its scientific name is Gaillardia. It was named after an 18th-century French magistrate M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, who was known to be a supporter of botany. It was named blanket flower due to its resemblance to a blanket knitted by Native American Indians. Blanket flowers resemble daisies and are available in shades of yellow, red, bronze. They are often used as cut flowers, many species are also bred for ornamental use.

It is not fussy about soil pH, but requires a well-draining soil. It thrives on less moist soil, but heavy clay soil will kill your plant. It grows to a height of around 1½ to 2 feet. They are drought tolerant flowers, which comes in both perennial and annual variety. Their leaves are green and gray in color, while flowers bloom from summer to early fall. The leaves grow to about 3 to 6 inches long.

There are around 20 species of Gaillardia that are cultivated in the United States, but the common ones that are grown are Gaillardia Pulchella and Gaillardia Aristata. If you wish to grow blanket flowers in your garden or backyard, you need to know its watering needs, soil requirements, winter care, along with the pests and insects which are likely to infest this plant. Blanket flowers can be an exciting, and colorful addition to your garden, and here are some tips for growing this plant.
Growing Blanket Flowers Indoor
  1. Blanket flowers can be grown from seeds, and they can be sown directly in your garden, or you can sow the seeds indoor too but the saplings have to be transplanted later. You can invest in heated germination mat if you plan to sow the seeds indoor.
  2. For planting them indoors, choose a container or pot large enough to accommodate a gaillardia sapling. Now, fill your chosen pot with drained, rich hummus-potting soil. You can even add perlite, or peat moss for better drainage. Gaillardias prefer dry conditions, and will not survive in wet or waterlogged soil, so ensure that there are ample number of drainage holes in your pot.
  3. Place your container in a spot where it will receive full sunlight for at least 7 to 8 hours a day. Sunlight is necessary for gaillardias to survive. Do not place the pot in cooler areas, or in front of heating gadgets.
  4. Sow three seeds, place them in the center of pot, don't cover the seeds, and using a spray bottle, mist the surface of the seeds lightly. Keep a check on the soil, and if it is dry enough, fill ½ inch of the pot. Pour water slowly to avoid erosion of the seeds.
  5. Check the pot after two weeks, for signs of germination. It is a slow process, so you need to be patient. When the seedlings develop their first set of leaves, analyze the seedlings, and make a note of the strongest seedling in the pot.
  6. Remove the two weak seedlings out of the pot carefully, without disturbing the third sapling's roots. If the top 1-inch of soil tends to become dry, water the pot. To test the moisture content in the soil, gently insert your finger in the pot till the end. Water the pot in the morning.
  7. You can use fertilizers for the seedling, in equal proportion 10:10:10 phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium water-soluble fertilizer once every 10-15 days. Now, it's time to transfer the gaillardia sapling outdoors.
  8. Once the soil temperature reaches 65ºF, transplant it outdoors after the last winter. Select a location where the soil drains quickly, and is fertile for its growth. Again, choose a place that has direct sunlight.
  9. Dig a hole which is as huge as its root ball. Maintain at least 12 to 15 inches distance between successive saplings or plants. Remove the root ball from the pot, and massage its ends, as that would help the roots to spread out. Place the plant directly in the hole, and cover it up with soil, slightly tapping it. Don't forget to water the area properly.
Growing Blanket Flowers Outdoors
  1. Find a location where the soil is not very soggy, and does not store water for long. Also, ensure that your chosen location receives direct sunlight for 7 to 8 hours a day. Utilize compost, decomposed manure, peat moss to increase the soil's drainage.
  2. Spacing can be done according to the various varieties of the plant. Small plants can be cultivated about a foot apart, whereas tall plants can be about 18 inches apart.
  3. A garden bed can be prepared by using garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil. Mix 2- to 3-inch layer of compost. Dig holes deep enough to accommodate the root ball entirely in the soil. Remove the plant from the pot, tuck it in to remove any extra air pockets.
  4. After planting, water your plant generously. In a few weeks time, top and root growth will occur depending on the environment conditions. Keep in mind, that deep watering every week is highly beneficial and useful than everyday light watering.
  5. If you live in a warmer region, you can plant the saplings in early fall, flowers will most likely bloom in the first spring. However, if you are from a colder region, blooming period may stretch up to the second spring.
Blanket Flowers Care Tips
  1. During the winter, the sunlight is not strong and the temperature drops, making it hard for blanket flowers to survive. To ensure that your blanket flowers survive the winter, prune the plant to about 6 inches in the height. Remember, this has to be done only when the foliage is dead and the blooming period has stopped.
  2. Water the newly pruned plants deeply so that it keeps their roots moist. The key is to keep the roots moist enough during winters, this helps in healthy root formation.
  3. Use a spade or sharp shears to cut off the roots, and remove excess blanket flowers. This prevents overcrowding of the soil.
  4. Get rid of plant debris near your blanket flowers as this can attract unnecessary insects and disease. Remove the debris from your flower bed.
  5. During winters, in cooler climates, mulch the plant with one-inch of organic material. You can even prune the flowers to about 1 or 2 inches from the ground.
  6. To increase flowering, deadhead plants more frequently. Insects like aphids and leaf-hoppers are common insect infestations for these plants, keep an eye on them as they can spread disease like Aster Yellows.
You can add blanket flowers to your gardens for their beautiful rich colors. Deadhead the flowers to increase their blooming period. Some species of blanket flowers don't live for long, particularly if the soil is poorly drained.
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