Native Blanketflower Will Blanket Gardens in Bold Color
Blanketflower is a native wildflower that is easy to grow from seed. It is reliable and adaptable, and will fill your garden with summer color.
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Photo by Jill Staake
Few plants offer a bright sunburst of color quite like blanketflower (Gaillardia pulchella). Emerging in late spring, the blooms come in a combination of yellow, orange, red and maroon and stick around until September. Budget gardeners looking for a terrific pop of color in their gardens from spring through fall (and nearly year-round in zones 9 and 10) shouldn’t pass up one of our best native wildflowers. Its bright yellow and orange bi-color flowers are produced in abundance for months on end. The plants are easily started from good quality seed.
How to Care for Blanketflower
- Botanical name: Gaillardia spp.,
- Zones: 3 to 10
- Attracts: Birds, bees and butterflies
- Light needs: Full sun
- Size: 2 to 3 feet tall
- Grown for: An explosion of color and drought tolerance
- Foliage: Long gray-green leaves
- Soil: Well draining
Via Proven Winners
Blanketflower has made multiple Birds & Blooms “best lists”, including flowers that beat the heat and the top 10 plants for sandy soil. This easy-to-grow wildflower is great for pollinators and wonderful for cutting, too. You’ll often find it along roadsides and in wildflower meadows, and anywhere native flowers are emphasized. It does well in containers and is even salt-tolerant. These plants ask for nothing but lots of sun, and the occasional bit of rain. However, blanketflower does poorly in clay soil. Rabbits usually give it a pass.
Photo by Jill Staake
Interestingly, I often come across articles indicating this plant is difficult to start from seed. This always makes me laugh. My own yard is full of Gaillardia and all of it comes from a single packet of seed I purchased years ago from the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative. From a single $3 investment, I have reaped probably thousands of blooms over the years, on dozens and dozens of plants. They die back after a freeze, and sprout again nearby a few weeks later, Blanketflower gives me reliable blooms here in Florida from late February until winter returns again.
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As fall approaches, leave flower stalks and seed heads standing to help the plant become more winter hardy. Bonus: Goldfinches snack on the seeds.
Cultivars to Try
There are also several other Gaillardia species native to the U.S. Many have great value for wildlife or in a cutting garden. You can find single colors, a “pincushion” effect, and more. Mesa Red’s deep red-orange flowers are a dramatic magnet for butterflies. For something a little sunnier, try cheery Mesa Yellow. Arizona Sun also offers classic bicolor.
In my experience, blanketflower hybrids are reliable only for one season, and rarely re-grow well from seed. You can certainly plant and enjoy these. Just don’t depend on them coming back for years to come (although they may).
Next, check out our complete guide to coneflowers: care tips, new varieties and more.