The annual blanket flower is a native of the Plains states to the East Coast. The name "blanket flower" comes from its resemblance to Indian blankets, blooming in yellow, orange, red, and their combinations.
Description of blanket flower: The annual gaillardia grows erect, 1 to 2 feet tall, with narrow leaves 2 inches long and flowers on long stems. In addition to single-flowered varieties, there are doubles with numerous quilled petals. In these, the original orange, red, and yellow colors have been extended to bronze and cream colors.
Growing blanket flower: The annual gaillardia will grow well in full sun in any well-drained soil. It does not like clay, excess water, or fertilizer. A fungicide may be needed in areas with high humidity. It continues to perform admirably under dry conditions. Space it from 9 to 15 inches apart.
Propagating blanket flower: By seed. Barely cover, since gaillardia needs light to germinate. Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. For earlier bloom, sow indoors 4 to 6 weeks prior to planting out. Seeds germinate in 4 to 10 days at 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for blanket flower: Plant gaillardias in groups. Grow them in meadows, in the cottage garden, at the edge of lawns, or near woodlands. The flowers are good for cutting.
Blanket flower related species: Hybrids under the name G. grandiflora behave as perennials. Two dwarf forms are Goblin, with flowers of deep red edged in yellow, and Yellow Goblin, a pure yellow. Portola Giants, growing 21/2 feet tall, have bronze-colored flowers with yellow tips. The long flower stems are good for cutting. Arizona Sun, an All-America Selections winner, is a floriferous, compact selection. Fanfare has curious, tubular petals. Painter's Palette strain contains deep red, orange-tipped, and yellow flowers.
Blanket flower related varieties: Gaiety is a mixture of heavily quilled, double flowers in bright yellow, orange, rose, maroon, and bicolors, many tipped with yellow. Double Mixed flowers are 3 inches in diameter in cream, gold, crimson, and bicolors. Sundance Bicolor, an All-America Selections winner, has double orange flowers.
Scientific name of blanket flower: Gaillardia pulchella