Blooming for about 10 weeks in summer to early fall, blanket flower (Gaillarida x grandiflora) brings intense, showy color to sunny spots in the garden. The flowers, sometimes reaching 3 inches across, have lemon-yellow, orange, and red petals with maroon to orange centers. While they grow quickly and bloom for a long season, they tend to be short-lived, sometimes dying out after two or three years. However, they are easy to start from seed or divide to produce more plants.
Common name: Blanket flower
Botanical name: Gaillardia x grandiflora
Plant type: Perennial
Height: 8 to 30 inches, depending on cultivar
Zones: 3 to 10, depending on cultivar
Family: Asteraceae (Aster)
- Sun: Full sun
- Soil: Average, well-drained soil
- Moisture: Dry to moderate
- Fertilizer: None required
- Mulch: In colder regions, cover with organic mulch after the ground freezes.
- Pruning: Deadhead to encourage more flowering. In colder climates, cut plants back to about 6 inches in late summer or early fall. This will encourage more basal buds that will help plants survive winter.
- ‘Arizona Sun’, an All-America Selection winner, has bold 3-inch flowers that have red-orange petals tipped with yellow. Grows 8 to 10 inches tall. Zones 6 to 10.
- ‘Baby Cole’ has 3-inch flower heads with a maroon center and yellow-tipped red petals. Grows 8 inches tall. Zones 3 to 8.
- ‘Dazzler’ has maroon centers and orange-red, yellow-tipped petals. Grows 16 to 34 inches tall. Zones 3 to 9.
- ‘Fanfare’ has yellow, trumpet-shaped petals with a red center. Grows 18 to 24 inches tall. Zones 3 to 10.
- ‘Goblin’(‘Kobold’) has red and yellow blooms with a red disk. Grows 12 inches tall. Zones 3 to 9.
- Good companions for blanket flower include yarrow, goldenrod, coreopsis, ornamental grasses, and lavender.
- If not deadheaded, some blanket flowers self-seed in good soil, but cultivars typically don’t come true to seed.
- Blanket flowers perform poorly in heavy clay soil with poor drainage, but tolerate dry, sandy soil.
- Native to North America, blanket flowers are a good choice for wildflower gardens, where they’ll attract butterflies and birds.
Pests and diseases
- Root rot occurs in wet soils.
- Blanket flower is relatively pest-free, but slugs, snails, powdery mildew, aster yellows, and fungal leaf spot diseases occasionally attack the plant.
- Sow seeds indoors in early spring, about six to eight weeks before last frost.
- Divide perennials every two to three years in spring.
All in the family
The Asteraceae family includes familiar perennials such as yarrow (Achillea spp.), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis triplinervis), knapweed (Centaurea montana), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), blazing star (Liatris spp.), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans).
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.